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The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

How did the First World War affect sentiment, or feeling, about the Civil War?

Almost no person that we know of served in both the Civil War and the First World War: to do so, he would have to have been a teenager in 1861 and an octogenarian in 1917! The First World War, therefore, became the new great marker for millions of Americans who divided their lives into “before” and “after” sections. One can, of course, ask what was the great “before” and “after” moment for the two generations that grew to maturity between 1865 and 1917. The answer is that they did not have one.

Just as many Americans alive today lament that they “missed” the 1960s by virtue of being too young to participate, there were millions of Americans between 1865 and 1917 who were sad that they “missed” the Civil War. With the benefit of hindsight, we can assert that they were probably fortunate to have missed the blood and destruction, but that was not the way they saw it. Quite a few of those Americans also decried the fact that America was changing before their eyes because of immigration.



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