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During the Civil War, Walt Whitman described his admiration for the Union soldiers' loyalty to the ideal of democracy. His argument, that this faith bonded Americans to their nation, has received little critical attention, yet today it raises increasingly relevant questions about American patriotism in the face of growing nationalist sentiment worldwide. Here a group of scholars explores the manner in which Americans have discussed and practiced their patriotism over the past two hundred years. Their essays investigate, for example, the extent to which the promise of democracy has explained citizen loyalty, what other factors--such as devotion to home and family--have influenced patriotism, and how patriotism has often served as a tool to maintain the power of a dominant group and to obscure internal social ills.
This volume examines the use of patriotic language and symbols in building unity in the early republic, rebuilding the nation after the Civil War, and sustaining loyalty in an increasingly diverse society. Continuing through the World Wars to the Clinton presidency, the essay topics range from multiculturalism to reactions toward masculine power. In addition to the editor, the contributors include Cynthia M. Koch, Cecilia Elizabeth O'Leary, Andrew Neather, Stuart McConnell, Gaines M. Foster, Kimberly Jensen, David Glassberg and J. Michael Moore, Lawrence R. Samuel, Robert B. Westbrook, Wendy Kozol, George Lipsitz, Barbara Truesdell, Robin Wagner-Pacifici, and William B. Cohen.