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War and the Passions of Patriotism

Nicole Eustace

336 pages | 6 x 9 | 19 illus.
Paper 2015 | ISBN 9780812223484 | $26.50s | Outside the Americas £20.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Early American Studies
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"Insisting that the pen is mightier than the sword, Eustace presents the War of 1812 more as a cultural event than a military one and examines the nation that emerged from the war, re-formed by aggressive Republican party rhetoric. . . . A powerful analysis of the political rhetoric the war generated."—Carroll Smith Rosenberg, Journal of American History

"This is far and away the most important book written on the War of 1812 in several decades."—David Waldstreicher, Temple University

"Probably no book published on the occasion of the bicentenary of the War of 1812 offers so many new insights into the War of 1812 as Eustace's. The role of gender and race in popular representations of the war but also their relation to the burgeoning American nationalism in the war years had hitherto yet to be addressed in such a compelling manner."—Reviews in History

"With this second book, Nicole Eustace establishes herself as one of the premier cultural historians of the early American republic. Eustace paints the War of 1812 as a moral as well as emotional conflict. She shows how the war's supporters pushed the idea that all Americans could contribute to the nation by expanding the population, and that love, marriage and propagation were key forms of American liberty as well as expressions of patriotism. Women and even African-Americans could be enlisted in parts of this project. The only people left out completely were the original population of American Indians. In making this argument, Eustace shows the importance of the war to American history on the eve of its bicentennial."—C. Dallett Hemphill, author of Siblings: Brothers and Sisters in American History

As military campaigns go, the War of 1812 was a disaster. By the time it ended in 1815, Washington, D.C., had been burned to the ground, the national debt had nearly tripled, and territorial gains were negligible. Yet the war gained so much popular support that it ushered in what is known as the "era of good feelings," a period of relative partisan harmony and strengthened national identity. Historian Nicole Eustace's cultural history of the war tells the story of how an expensive, unproductive campaign won over a young nation—largely by appealing to the heart.

1812 looks at the way each major event of the war became an opportunity to capture the American imagination: from the first attempt at invading Canada, intended as the grand opening of the war; to the battle of Lake Erie, where Oliver Perry hoisted the flag famously inscribed with "Don't Give Up the Ship"; to the burning of the Capitol by the British. Presidential speeches and political cartoons, tavern songs and treatises appealed to the emotions, painting war as an adventure that could expand the land and improve opportunities for American families. The general population, mostly shielded from the worst elements of the war, could imagine themselves participants in a great national movement without much sacrifice. Bolstered with compelling images of heroic fighting men and the loyal women who bore children for the nation, war supporters played on romantic notions of familial love to espouse population expansion and territorial aggression while maintaining limitations on citizenship. 1812 demonstrates the significance of this conflict in American history: the war that inspired "The Star-Spangled Banner" laid the groundwork for a patriotism that still reverberates today.

Nicole Eustace is Associate Professor of History at New York University and author of Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution.

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