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Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America$
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Thomas J. Brown

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653747

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653747.001.0001

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Visions of Victory

Visions of Victory

(p.186) 4 Visions of Victory
Civil War Monuments and the Militarization of America

Thomas J. Brown

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter situates northern and southern monuments to Civil War victory within longstanding traditions in art history. The triumphal arch came to the United States after the war. Proposals for arches framed debates about the future of antebellum landscapes like town commons and parade grounds, and arches also figured prominently in the shaping of public parks, largely a key feature of post-war urban planning. Increasingly sexualized statues of Nike, or Winged Victory, imagined Union triumph as a more comprehensive consummation than the most renowned successes of antiquity. Early attempts to represent peace incorporated a foundation in social or political change, but peace gradually converged with martial victory. The shift in Union memorials from regeneration to self-congratulation paralleled the rise of Confederate victory memorials. These works partly celebrated the overthrow of Reconstruction and consolidation of white supremacism but also illustrated a deepening national reluctance to engage in critical introspection.

Keywords:   Nike, peace, public parks, Reconstruction, triumphal arch, urban planning, white supremacism

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