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ANTEBELLUM

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ANTEBELLUM

Postby Dr. Goodword » Tue May 12, 2009 10:25 pm

• antebellum •

Pronunciation: æn-tee-bel-êm • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Relating to the period preceding a war. In the US it most often refers to the period prior to the Civil War (1861-1865); elsewhere in the English-speaking world it most often refers to the South African War (1899-1902) or either of the two world wars.

Notes: Because it is literally a Latin, not merely a Latinate, word, antebellum has no direct relatives in English, such as nouns or verbs derived from it. The prefix ante-, however, does appear in quite a few other English words, such as antecedent, antechamber, to antedate, and my personal favorite, antediluvian, referring to something older than the Old Testament flood and Noah, as the antediluvian idea that black cats bring bad luck. Things that go on after a war are, of course, postbellum in nature.

In Play: Because rowdy Southerners started the Civil War, Americans associate this word with the South before that war: "Many of us picture antebellum southern belles in fluffy dresses and colorful bonnets, sitting on the front porch, while their fathers rock (in the original sense of the word) amiably nearby, sipping mint juleps." Elsewhere, however, this word may be used to refer to either WW I or WW II, so long as the context clarifies which: "After World War II the number of women in the work force did not fall back to antebellum levels."

Word History: This word was simply traced from a Latin phrase, letter for letter: ante "before" bellum "war". Ante and anti "against, opposed to" originate in the same Proto-Indo-European root, ant- "front, forehead". The sense of "in front of" slipped to "opposite" in the sense of living opposite someone, and from there to "opposed to", with the concomitant spelling change of ante to anti. We see ante plainly in anterior and antediluvian "before the flood", but we don't expect it to show up in English as end. Well, antonyms or near antonyms often share origins. English black and French blanc "white" come from the same PIE word, not to mention cold and scald. Bellum "war" has an interesting history, too. It originated as ancient Latin duellum "war", of dubious origins, which poets kept even after it changed to bellum and passed on to French as duel. (Today we thank the postbellum word-watching of Mary Jo Ashcraft-Costigan, who spotted today's Good Word and suggested we run with it.)
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Postby skinem » Wed May 13, 2009 9:04 am

My wife grew up in an antebellum home and her mother still lives in it. However, it doesn't fit the stereotype (columns, usually white) as it is a stone house.

Careful about who started the war now...and who was rowdy! :D
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Postby Stargzer » Wed May 13, 2009 10:54 pm

It was those damn-fool South Carolinians as I recall. Yes, the South had the best generals, but it didn't have the industrial base or the population. All chivalry and no common sense. It cost Robert E. Lee a nice piece of property.
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Postby Perry » Wed May 20, 2009 5:59 pm

Stargzer wrote:It was those damn-fool South Carolinians as I recall. Yes, the South had the best generals, but it didn't have the industrial base or the population. All chivalry and no common sense. It cost Robert E. Lee a nice piece of property.


Well that's one definition of slavery, I suppose.
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Postby Stargzer » Wed May 20, 2009 10:22 pm

Perry wrote:
Stargzer wrote: ... All chivalry and no common sense. It cost Robert E. Lee a nice piece of property.


Well that's one definition of slavery, I suppose.


Not really. After all, freedom didn't bring Civil Rights until a century later; and don't think that all the racists are in the south. Read the Wikipedia article on Malcolm X; his family's house in Lansing MI was burned down, allegedly by white supremacists. Lansing a good bit North of Mason and Dixon's Line.

If the South had any common sense they would have realized that they could not win a long, drawn-out war, and they also would have seen that slavery would be a losing proposition in the long run.

Don't forget that at the start of the war President Lincoln was more concerned with union than emancipation. In one of his letters he listed the cost of prosecuting the war and the cost of buying all the slaves, and wondered if he shouldn't just buy them all to end the war. In another letter he said if he could end the war by freeing the slaves he would do so, and if he could win the war by not freeing the slaves he would do so.

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in two parts (as I just found out). The first part, issued on September 22, 1862, freed all the slaves in states that were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863. The second, issued on January 1, 1863, named the ten states affected by the Proclamation. Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Kentucky were slave states, but since they remained in the Union they were not affected by the Proclamation. Even though Louisiana was affected, New Orleans and surrounding parishes were already under Federal control and were exempt.

Maryland would have seceded if it hadn't been occupied by the Union Army. If you think about the geography of the situation, Washington DC sits between Virginia and Maryland. When Virginia seceded, was there any way Washington would let Maryland secede and leave the Union capital in the middle of enemy territory?

The South, like much of the North and much of the 19th Century world, was caught up in the myth of "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" ("It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country"). I feel that slavery was only a part of the reason for the war, in that the South probably saw it as a States Rights issue. Most of the southerners didn't have slaves. Their attitude is summed up in the anecdote of the Yankee who asked the Rebel private why he was fighting since he didn't own any slaves. The Rebel replied, "Because you're down here!"

I think in those times many people had more allegience to their State than to the Federal Government. Look at Robert E. Lee: he didn't think that Virginia should have seceded, but he followed his State out of a sense of honor, knowing full well that if he didn't win a quick victory there would be no victory. The "nice piece of property" I mentioned is the land that is now Arlington National Cemetery.

Today, I think patriotism has been lost, especially for the majority of the younger generation, unlike WWI and WWII when patriotism ran high. Somewhere along the way the outrage we felt on September 12 has dwindled away, unlike the outrage we felt on December 8.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Perry » Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:55 pm

I cannot argue with you there. I am familiar with Malcolm X's life story; no lack of racists in Michigan. (I wasn't one of them, but I did grow up there.) Also, I recently read Team of Rivals. Among other things, the evolution of Lincoln's positions is laid out very well in this book. I highly recommend this book as a very engrossing read.
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Postby Stargzer » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:32 am

I've convinced that racism is ingrained into human nature, most likely as a survival mechanism. If you don't believe me, ask the Tutsi what happed at the hands of the Hutu in Rwanda in 1994. And that's not even the latest tribal warfare going on on that continent.
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Re: ANTEBELLUM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:14 pm

Gotta put in my two cents worth four years later. "A long drawn out war?" Didn't have to be. The war may have turned on Confederate General Longstreet arriving too late at Gettysburg to back up Pickett's famous charge deep into Union lines. Had he obeyed Lee's orders promptly and arrived on time, who knows?
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