"Swear this flag to live, for this flag to die": Flag Imagery in Constructing the Narrative of the Civil War and the Transformation of American Nationalism
Vanover, Eric Thomas
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The Civil War transformed nationalism in American society and created a notion of national identity closely tied to flag iconography. Flag symbolism developed as the prominent visualization of nationalism in American culture during and after the Civil War. The flags of the Civil War - namely the American flag, the Confederate national flag, and the Confederate Battle Cross - grew into iconic images within American communities. Their status as symbols of nationalism, patriotism, and an American historical past often advocated by newspapers, individual citizens, and the soldiers of the war themselves, initiated an American tradition of flag iconography for the purpose of nationalism unforeseen in American culture before the war. After the war, the issues of reconciliation and of what context the war would be placed in American history also became influenced by flag imagery. With the potential for post-war bitterness and lengthened disunity, the American flag offered a symbol that allowed Americans to remember the war as the deeds of patriotic citizens and as part of a continuous American national narrative. In doing so, the American flag became the iconic symbol of American nationalism.
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