Chapter

Patterns of Protest: The Raftsmen's Rebellion of 1857

Robert M. Sandow

in Deserter Country

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230518
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240845 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823230518.003.0003

Series: The North's Civil War

Patterns of Protest: The Raftsmen's Rebellion of 1857

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Wartime opposition in mountain communities fit recurrent patterns of social protest evident in the antebellum period. At the root of protest lay social and economic changes imperiling their society. The changes in lumbering accelerated the pace of forest exploitation and innovated methods of log driving that competed with rafting. The floating logs impeded rafters' access to markets and violated sense of customary use of the rivers. With a mindset of republican ideology, the watermen fought back against restrictions and the corruptions of power that favored industrial lumbering. In the American context, republicanism provided both a moral and political framework for protest. It was a philosophy cherishing representative government as the protector of liberty and the common weal. The rafters' rebellion in 1857 was an ominous foreshadowing of wartime opposition, when watermen were the source of violent dissent. Wartime hardships would exacerbate fears of economic vulnerability and push regional farmers into patterns of protest.

Keywords: wartime; republicanism; mountain communities; industrial lumbering; rafters' rebellion; watermen; protest

Chapter.  7094 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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