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Suffering Soldiers : Revolutionary War Veterans, Moral Sentiment, and Political Culture in the Early Republic (Paperback)

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This book examines how the moral sentiment of gratitude, as expressed in the image of the suffering soldier, transformed the memory of the Revolutionary War, political culture, and public policy in the early American Republic. This popular depiction removed the stigma of vice and treason from the Continental Army, legitimized the army as a republican institution, and credited it widi securing independence. By glorifying the now aged, impoverished, and infirm Continental soldiers as republican warriors, the image also accentuated the nation's guilt for its ingratitude toward the veterans.

Using Peterborough, New Hampshire, as a case study, John Resch shows that the power of the suffering soldier image lay partly in its reflection of reality. The citizen soldiers from Peterborough who fought in the Continental Army did indeed represent a cross-section of the town, and the experienced greater postwar deprivation and alienation than their peers who had not gone to war.

Personal and political sympathy toward the veterans eventually led to the passage of the 1818 Revolutionary War Pension Act, which attracted more than 20,000 applications. Resch shows how veterans---through their appearances in civic celebrations and as pension claimants---reified the image of the suffering soldier who deserved his country's honor and respect. The War Department gave him exactly that by its liberal administration of the pension program.

"This is a striking book on a much neglected subject: what happened to the veterans of the American Revolution? It is the first systematic analysis of the veterans based on a large sample of their pension applications. And it is the only study of the history of the struggle to pass the country's first general pension law. The book has the potential to reach scholars in a number of fields: the American Revolution, the military history of the war, social history, and New England. . . . Finally, it has many modern overtones, including post-traumatic stress disorder and welfare entitlements."---Alfred F. Young, author of The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution

"Resch has delved deeply into the source material. I am impressed with the sheer quantity of sources consulted: pension records, orations, newspaper articles, and local records. This book provides a solid perspective on a neglected yet important subject."---Robert E. Cray, author of Paupers and Poor Relief in New York City and Its Rural Environs, 1700-1830

"An important, original study of a neglected subject. Resch adds a new dimension to the study of patriotism and national identity in the early republic."---Charles Royster, author of A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783


Publisher Univ of Massachusetts Pr
Mfg Part# 9781558497887
SKU 211303266
Format Paperback
ISBN10 1558497889
Release Date 8/5/2009
Product Attributes
Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 0336
Publisher University of Massachusetts Press
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