This chapter explores the making of manhood, freedom, and citizenship, in one of the most destructive wars in history. The Civil War destroyed more than half a million lives, and it also destroyed an extraordinary lucrative system of forced labor whose cultural power exceeded its monetary value. It was in the wake of such unfathomable destruction that the language of redemption attained a new meaning to help most Americans to come to terms with their world’s violent transformation. Even as the language of redemption often spoke to a desire to transcend the violence of the past, the struggles over its meaning showed the centrality of violence to American political life.
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