Other Scholarly Content


States' Rights Nationalists: Governors Joseph Brown and Zebulon Vance versus Conscription Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF


Attribute NameValues
  • Confederate governors Joseph Brown and Zebulon Vance have long been considered obstructionists to the Confederate cause through their steadfast commitment to states' rights. States' Rights Nationalists throws in its own interpretation of these two men into the historiographical conversation taken on by well-known Civil War historians like Frank Owsley, Albert Burton Moore, Gordon McKinney, Paul Escott, John Barrett, and Joseph Parks. This paper will analyze the case studies of these two notorious Confederate governors, to answer the following research question: Did Confederate governors intentionally obstruct the implementation of the Conscription Act of 1862 by prioritizing the rights of their individual states over the Confederacy? Where previous historians have often judged these men as either nationalists or obstructionists, this paper considers a spectrum between these polar ideas. Governors' reactions to conscription connects to a larger historical question that historians have asked repeatedly: Why did the South lose the Civil War? Historians like Frank L. Owsley and Albert Burton Moore blamed governors' commitments to states' rights as failing to create a unified front against northern aggression. However, this paper argues the inverse and contends that it was the failure of the Confederacy to protect the sovereignty of the states that created much of this internal division. Instead, it was the governors who acted as nationalists to the Confederacy, as they understood it and its founding principles, and created their own middle-ground between Confederate nationalism and states' rights.
Resource Type
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed



This work has no parents.