I don’t know when this interview with Gary Gallagher took place, but this little comment caught my attention in response to the question of where further research is most needed.

I’m not sure there is a big hole in the literature that’s just crying out to be filled. What’s interesting is that a book occasionally will come out, and you’ll think, “Wow!” I think that applies to my student Adrian Brettle’s topic, Confederate expansionist ambitions. Why hasn’t somebody written about that? We know a good bit about antebellum southern expansionist sentiment, but the wartime continuation of that sentiment has gone largely unexplored.

The desire to unite all the slaveholding states into one nation has been discussed in connection with Confederate military strategy, but I would love to read something that connects to the antebellum period. After all, the sectional rift was essentially over the expansion of the nation into the western territories and we know that many in the Deep South looked south for additional territory to expand.

Confederates had every reason to believe that they would be victorious in the war so it would not be surprising to learn that politicians and other leaders discussed expansionist opportunities that would arise as a result.

About Kevin Levin

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5 comments add yours

  1. Check out Lincoln Prize finalist, Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics by Robert E. May. The subtitle says its about Lincoln, Douglas but it is really about a broader topic including Southern expansionism.

  2. I thought this topic had been written about before. Thanks for mentioning Robert May, I figured he would have written one. There might be a few others, too. This isn’t so much a hole in scholarship as Gallagher thinks. Just not super popular. Still, I’d love to read it and see if the author brings anything new to the table.

    • I believe Paul Quigley’s Shifting Grounds touches on it as well.

  3. River of Dark Dreams has one or two chapters on the subject. Problem i saw is how widespread were the thoughts across the deep south.

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