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Title: Defining America : the politics of citizenship and national identity in the United States, 1844-1850
Author: Laughlin, Aoife
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 0925
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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The 18405 witnessed significant changes to the demographic, geographic, and political landscape of the United States. A huge influx of European immigrants to the country resulted in the rapid diversification of American society along ethnic and religious lines. American sovereignty had been extended across the continent through a combination of diplomacy and conquest, resulting in the incorporation of the territories of Texas, Oregon, New Mexico and California to the Union. Expansion had significant consequences for the political structure of the Union. Following the annexation of the new territories, a contentious debate about the future of slavery in the United States gripped the nation, exacerbating sectional tensions across the Union. These myriad profound changes to the socio-political and geographic landscape of the United States stripped away, to borrow Paul Giljee phrase, the 'supposed homogeneity' of the nation and forced Americans to grapple with questions of national identity This thesis examines antebellum political rhetoric about citizenship and national identity in the United States. The thesis examines the intersection of questions about national identity with major congressional debates about immigration, expansion. slavery, and the eruption of foreign revolutionary movements in Europe. The dissertation deconstructs a of the key issues dominating political discourse during the period leading up to and surrounding the 1848 election to explore how membership and citizenship in the American nation-state was debated and ultimately conferred or withheld from different groups. The overarching aim of the dissertation is to examine the consolidation of an American national identity taking place in the mid-19th century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available