Rebel Nationalism: E. H. Cushing and the
EMORY M. THOMAS*
C ONCEIVED IN DISSENT, SUSTAINED BY SLAVERY, AND DESTROYED
through violence, the Confederate rebellion stands as a most un-
American one. The southern rebels seem to have served American tra-
ditions of liberal progress only in defeat, and the historical importance
of the Confederacy has rested largely on the triumph of union, free-
dom, and democracy over it. Yet these southern Americans created
more than a rebellion. They created a southern national state and
through this instrument prosecuted a protracted war. They remolded
their polity, economy, and society to meet the demands of modern
war and in so doing underwent an experience very similar to that
of their northern enemies. The career of Edward Hopkins Cushing
(1829-1879), a newspaper editor on the geographical fringe of the
Confederacy, illustrates one aspect of this experience. Cushing serves
as a case study in Confederate nationalism.
Royalton, Vermont, was an unlikely birthplace, and a degree from
Dartmouth College an unlikely education, for a classic Confederate.
While in school, Cushing had "evinced a partiality for literature and
ancient languages" and decided on a career in teaching. Soon after
he completed his studies, he immigrated to Texas'
During his early years on this fast developing cotton frontier, he
became absorbed in the growth of his adopted state. His later writings
show that his appreciation of southern mores and institutions grew
with the avid zeal of the convert. He first taught school in the Rev-
erend John McCulloch's academy in Galveston before moving inland
to schools in Brazoria and Columbia. In 1853 Cushing took a job
on the Columbia Democrat and Planter,' thus turning his literary
*Mr. Thomas, assistant professor of history of the University of Georgia, has published
articles and reviews in The Journal of Southern History, Civil War History, The Saturday
Review, and Virginia Cavalcade. The author acknowledges his sincere appreciation to the
late Professor Andrew Forest Muir of Rice University for his patient assistance in the
preparation of this article.
1E. B. Cushing, "Edward Hopkins Gushing: An Appreciation by His Son," Southwestern
Historical Quarterly, XXV (April, 922), 261-262.
'A. C. Gray, "History of the Texas Press," in A Comprehensive History of Texas, z635-
1897, edited by Dudley G. Wooten (2 vols.; Dallas, 1897), II, 399; A. B. Norton, "A
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed July 12, 2014.