“Branded as Cain”: Jonathan Worth and Unionism in post-Civil War North Carolina

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Elizabeth A. Ellis (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Mark Elliott

Abstract: This project examines the political legacy of North Carolina's “inner civil war” that seems largely forgotten in popular memory. How was Unionism defined in North Carolina? Who were the leading Unionists and what did they want? Did North Carolina's Unionist legacy really disappear? If not, what happened to it? Analyzing the political career of Jonathan Worth, a politician with Quaker roots from Randolph County, during Reconstruction helps to answer some of these questions. In 1865, Worth was the first post-war governor to be elected in North Carolina after campaigning on his original Union record. In the social and political struggles that emerged after the Civil War, two distinct versions of Unionism emerged in North Carolina: a Conservative Unionism that drew on the Old South and pre-war understandings of the Constitution versus a Progressive Unionism that embraced Reconstruction changes to the Constitution. Much hung in the balance between these two Unionisms, including civil rights, collective memory of the war experience, and national identity. Worth's understanding of Unionism was Conservative, and thus more sympathetic to former Confederates than former slaves. Despite Progressive Unionist success in 1868, Worth’s Conservative interpretation of Unionism would triumph in the long term, helping to form the basis of a New South Nationalism in North Carolina that outwardly professed loyalty to the United States but was also used to resist federal interference in Jim Crow laws and challenges to the Lost Cause interpretation of the war.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
Civil War, Jonathan Worth, Nationalism, North Carolina, Reconstruction, Unionism
Worth, Jonathan, $d 1802-1869
Unionists (United States Civil War) $z North Carolina
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877) $z North Carolina
North Carolina $x Politics and government $y 1865-1950

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