Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI:
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's letters showed vitality and independence. He tweaked his dear English friends for supporting the Confederacy and he derided his abolitionist neighbors for their simplicity. He marveled at how war-spirit galvanized the nation and even proclaimed a desire to shoulder a musket himself. However, he failed to see what would be gained from the slaughter and was more than willing to let the Confederacy go provided that the border states—Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—remained with the Union. In Washington, D.C. Hawthorne became part of a Massachusetts delegation that called at the White House and met Abraham Lincoln. He returned to Concord and completed the manuscript of “Chiefly About War-Matters.” The essay was a searching meditation on the war, simultaneously patriotic and treasonous, lyrical and satirical. James Fields, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, liked the piece, but asked Hawthorne to alter his description of Lincoln which Hawthorne later refused.

Keywords: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Confederacy; Union; Washington; D.C.; Chiefly About War-Matters; James Fields; Abraham Lincoln

Chapter.  9696 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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