Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Professor Kyle G. Volk
Professor Anya Jabour
Professor Kyle G. Volk, Professor Anya Jabor, Professor Jody Pavilack
Antebellum, Statue, Memory, Slavery, Compromise, Daniel Webster
University of Montana
Political History | United States History
Professional Paper 1:
This professional paper is an in-depth analysis of a statue of Daniel Webster erected in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1859. Daniel Webster was a congressman for Massachusetts who became a controversial figure after he spoke in support of the Fugitive Slave Law as part of the Compromise of 1850. This paper analyzes the Daniel Webster statue and argues that the fractured politics of Union politicized public commemoration in the late antebellum period after the Compromise of 1850. This paper furthermore analyzes one of the first debates surrounding the public commemoration of a controversial historical actor with close ties to the perpetuation of American slavery. The Daniel Webster statue was part of a mass movement to commemorate and celebrate America’s past heroes from the revolutionary generation and the recent past. The monied aristocracy in Boston viewed the statue as an emblem of nationalist pride and unity in the months leading up to the war. Meanwhile, Garrisonian abolitionists contested the politics of commemoration and moral physical boundaries in antebellum American cities such as Boston. Southern politicians also debated the significance of the Webster state and engaged in rituals of the public commemoration.
This professional paper is an important contribution to the historical scholarship on statues, memorials, and the politicization of memory. Furthermore, it encourages historians to analyze how memorials fit into the politics of union and democratic practices of the late antebellum period. Monuments and other forms of public commemoration are deeply connected to moral about the political economy of slavery.
Professional Paper 2:
This professional paper analyzes the history of the Virginian oyster industry over the course of the long nineteenth century. It argues that the Virginia state legislature debated and ultimately implemented protectionist economic policies aimed to guard the state from Northern exploitation. To make Virginia more commercially independent, policymakers determined that the taxation, policing, and strict regulation of state-owned oyster beds would facilitate the revenue necessary for industrial modernization. This essay adopts the oyster commodity as its focus to analyze the Southern political economy of the late antebellum period and postbellum period. This exploration of the oyster commodity reveals how sectionalism impacted the relationship between Southern agricultural goods and Northern businesses and consumers. This paper also argues that Virginia’s oyster industry and state regulations relied on the threatened use of violence. The Virginia oyster police shows that the American regulatory state in the nineteenth century not only relied on matters of property and law, but also state-sanctioned violence. This professional paper contributes to scholarship on Virginian and Southern history. It also engages with scholarship on the Southern political economy in the nineteenth century.
Larmann, Michael James, "The New Monumental Era: Daniel Webster and the Commemoration of Compromise in the Age of Disunion, 1853-1865" (2021). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11828.
© Copyright 2021 Michael James Larmann