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Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War

James O. Lehman and Steven M. Nolt

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During the American Civil War, the Mennonites and Amish faced moral dilemmas that tested the very core of their faith. How could they oppose both slavery and the war to end it? How could they remain outside the conflict without entering the American mainstream to secure legal conscientious objector status? In the North, living this ethical paradox marked them as ambivalent participants to the Union cause; in the South, it marked them as clear traitors.

In the first scholarly treatment of pacifism during the Civil War, two experts in Anabaptist studies explore the important role of sectarian...

During the American Civil War, the Mennonites and Amish faced moral dilemmas that tested the very core of their faith. How could they oppose both slavery and the war to end it? How could they remain outside the conflict without entering the American mainstream to secure legal conscientious objector status? In the North, living this ethical paradox marked them as ambivalent participants to the Union cause; in the South, it marked them as clear traitors.

In the first scholarly treatment of pacifism during the Civil War, two experts in Anabaptist studies explore the important role of sectarian religion in the conflict and the effects of wartime Americanization on these religious communities. James O. Lehman and Steven M. Nolt describe the various strategies used by religious groups who struggled to come to terms with the American mainstream without sacrificing religious values—some opted for greater political engagement, others chose apolitical withdrawal, and some individuals renounced their faith and entered the fight.

Integrating the most recent Civil War scholarship with little-known primary sources and new information from Pennsylvania and Virginia to Illinois and Iowa, Lehman and Nolt provide the definitive account of the Anabaptist experience during the bloodiest war in American history.

Reviews

Reviews

I found this book fascinating. It is an easy read, with lots of arresting stories of faith under test. Its amazingly thorough research, which comes through on every page, makes the book convincing.

Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War is well worth exploring.

Fascinating even to the lay reader.

A valuable book that gives Brethren a source to turn to when considering the experiences of our own spiritual ancestors.

Enriches our understanding of the impact of the Civil War on Mennonites and Amish, and on American religious groups in general. In addition, the authors have enhanced our knowledge of the influence that religion had on the war.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
376
ISBN
9780801886720
Illustration Description
24 b&w photos, 6 maps
Table of Contents

List of Tables and Maps
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Religion, Religious Minorities, and the American Civil War
1. Politics and Peoplehood in a Restless Republic
2. Our Country Is at War
3. Conscription

List of Tables and Maps
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Religion, Religious Minorities, and the American Civil War
1. Politics and Peoplehood in a Restless Republic
2. Our Country Is at War
3. Conscription, Combat, and Virginia's "War of Self-Defense"
4. Negotiation and Notoriety in Pennsylvania
5. Patterns of Peace and Patriotism in the Midwest
6. The Fighting Comes North
7. Thaddeus Stevens and Pennsylvania Mennonite Politics
8. Did Jesus Christ Teach Men to War?
9. Resistance and Revenge in Virginia
10. Burning the Shenandoah Valley
11. Reconstructed Nation, Reconstructed Peoplehood
Appendixes
A. The Sonnenberg Petition
B. Mennonites Identified on Roll of Exemptions
List of Abbreviations
Notes
References
Index

Author Bios
Steven M. Nolt
Featured Contributor

Steven M. Nolt

Steven M. Nolt is a professor of history and Anabaptist studies at Elizabethtown College and director of the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.