Hail Columbia! Happy land!: Southerners in Europe and American nationalism, 1830-1860
Smith, Miles, IV
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This thesis examines the opinions of seven southerners who visited Europe between 1830 and 1860. Europe was experiencing the great nationalist upheavals of the nineteenth century, and these seven southerners (five men, two women) recorded their own thoughts and opinions about Europe. At the end of the same period, the United States was dividing along sectional lines. This work explores whether there really was a southern nationalism, an idea proposed to explain the southern states‚Äô motivation for secession. Using the diaries, journals, and letters of the seven studied here, it is clear that they viewed themselves as Americans first and foremost. When these southern men and women were exposed to the aspirations of oppressed nationalities in Europe, they were sympathetic but they did not see any commonality between the oppressed minorities and the South. They were not reminded of a southern need for liberty. Instead, they gloried in their freedoms they had as Americans. As late as 1859, a South Carolina Methodist minister visiting Europe extolled his American nationality by writing "Hail Columbia! Happy land!" in contrast to the unhappy and divided "Old World."