2020 Draughon Seminars
Alabama’s military forces were fierce and dedicated combatants for the Confederate cause. In this talk, Dr. Severance argues that Alabama’s electoral and political attitudes were, in their own way, just as unified in their support for the cause of southern independence. To be sure, the civilian populace often expressed unease about the conflict, as did a good many of Alabama’s legislators, but the majority of government officials and military personnel displayed pronounced Confederate loyalty and a consistent willingness to accept a total war approach in pursuit of their new nation’s aims. As Dr. Severance puts it, Alabama was a “war state all over.”
Dr. Severance examines the state’s political leadership at multiple levels of governance—congressional, gubernatorial, and legislative—and orients much of his analysis around the state elections of 1863. Coming at the war’s midpoint, these elections provide an invaluable gauge of popular support for Alabama’s role in the Civil War, particularly at a time when the military situation for Confederate forces was looking bleak. The results do not necessarily reflect a society that was unreservedly prowar, but they clearly establish a polity that was committed to an unconditional Confederate victory, in spite of the probable costs.
Dr. Ben H. Severance is a Professor of History at Auburn University at Montgomery. A former officer in the U.S. Army, he joined the History Department at AUM in August 2005. His specialties are Civil War and Reconstruction, Antebellum America, and American Military History. He is also an avid reader of short-story horror fiction and pre-steroids baseball history. Dr. Severance has published three books: Tennessee’s Radical Army: The State Guard and Its Role in Reconstruction, 1867-1869 (University of Tennessee Press, 2005); Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War (University of Arkansas Press, 2012); and most recently, A War State All Over: Alabama Politics and the Confederate Cause (University of Alabama Press, 2020).
Draughon Seminars in State and Local History is a series of lectures sponsored by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University. The series is funded by the Kelly Mosley Endowment in honor of Dr. Ralph B. Draughon, president of Auburn University from 1947 to 1965. Draughon was a historian with a deep commitment to both state history and public education.
Last Updated: March 30, 2021