Was there a Culture War in Nineteenth-Century America?



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The country is deeply polarised. Each party believes the other not just to be wrong on public policy questions but a profound threat to the nation. At stake are the most fundamental of questions about the values that underpin society. The US today? But also the US in the 1850s. Culture Wars are nothing new. In this episode Adam talks to two historians who have broken the mould of how to think about the Civil War era by recognising how cultural issues like gender could shape every other political issue: Lauren Haumesser, author of The Democratic Collapse: How Gender Politics Broke a Party and a Nation, 1856-1861, and Mark Power Smith, a colleague here at Oxford, and the author of Young America: The Transformation of Nationalism before the Civil War. So, how do culture wars start, why are they fought... and how do they end?

Download this episode here.