I’ve said it before that I often find it difficult to teach my students the concept of Union as it was understood during the Civil War era by the vast majority of Americans. We have some sense of why white Southerners took up arms for the Confederacy. It’s a tangible explanation that each of us can easily empathize with, but Union often seems abstract. Arguably this difficulty tells us much more about our own views of the federal government and the level of trust we place in our elected leaders since the 1970s.
I am a big fan of The Civil War Trusts Civil War in 4 video series. In 2012 I did one on memory. In the video below Gary Gallagher discusses the importance of Union and how it framed notions of American Exceptionalism. It hits on many of the themes in his most recent book and is ideal for classroom use.[Uploaded to Vimeo on December 13, 2014]