Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Embattled Conservatism: Hamilton Gamble and Conservatism in Civil War Missouri
by Ayres, Patrick, M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2019, 112; 13877422
Abstract (Summary)

This project analyzes the career of Missouri politician Hamilton Gamble (1798–1864), and argues that his life and career during the antebellum period and up to the secession crisis encapsulated nineteenth-century conservative attitudes and thoughts on a wide range of subjects from proper government to race relations. During the period of Gamble's life under consideration (1818–1861), Gamble held a variety of positions in Missouri, ranging from membership in the state legislature in the 1840s, to presiding over the Dred Scott case in 1852 as the Chief Justice of Missouri's Supreme Court. Eventually, Gamble served as governor of Missouri during the Civil War.

Far from simply being an ideology, conservatism in the nineteenth-century United States was a political disposition, used by its adherents to craft moderate solutions to preserve large societal institutions. Only through such institutions, conservatives believed, could society not only advance, but also maintain the rule of law. Gamble's conservatism was also shaped by a Western identity, and this thesis uses Gamble to argue for the importance of recognizing regional identities beyond a traditional binary of a North vs. South dichotomy, which dominates the historiographical literature. For Gamble, this Western identity reinforced conservative ideas on compromise and mediation, and citizens of the states along the Ohio and Missouri rivers identified their region as the nation's sectional arbiters between North and South.

This work is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 examines the migration of Gamble and others to the Western states, and focuses on the gradual development of a Western, conservative identity in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Chapter 2 analyzes the growing sectional conflict of the 1840s and 1850s, and Gamble's struggle to reconcile his conservatism with the infamous Dred Scott case. Lastly, Chapter 3 explores the attempts of Gamble and other Westerners to prevent war by attempting a last-ditch effort at compromise.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Alexander, Erik B.
Commitee: Jack, Bryan, Paulett, Robert, Stacy, Jason
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 58/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Military history
Keywords: Border state, Conservatism, Missouri, West
Publication Number: 13877422
ISBN: 978-1-392-25968-9
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