Charles Mason and the Civil War : the Story of a Jacksonian in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Schwiebert, Mark W.
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The Civil War period was an era of intense political emotions when many traditional allegiances were severed or strengthened. Since Jacksonian Democrats had dominated the political stage in America for many of the years preceding the war, their reactions to the growing tensions and war itself become of interest in exploring the development of American political thought. This thesis examines these reactions as encountered in the personality of Charles Mason, a Jacksonian Democrat born in New York and later a resident of Iowa and Washington, D.C. Mason took a role in the Jacksonian movement in New York early in his life and for the rest of his career remained conspicuously active both in Iowa and in national Democratic politics. The thesis examines the political activities of Mason as they developed during the Civil War period. Beginning with his earliest pro-Jacksonian political expressions as contributor, then editor, of the New York Evening Post, the paper traces the process by which Mason was driven during the Civil War to take positions not only inconsistent with Jacksonianism, but anomalous to Mason's prevalent political attitudes. Correspondingly, the sources of these anomalies are discussed and examined in this thesis. Heavy emphasis is placed on the Mason Papers found in the Iowa State Historical Building in Des Moines, Iowa. Of these papers, especially important are Mason's diaries which give a fairly intimate view of the Democrats intellectual development and activities during this period.
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