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"Antebellum" is an expression derived from Latin that means "before war" (ante, "before," and bellum, "war").

In United States history and historiography, "antebellum" is commonly used, in lieu of "pre-Civil War," in reference to the period of increasing sectionalism that led up to the American Civil War. In that sense, the Antebellum Period is often considered to have begun with the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, though it is sometimes stipulated to extend back as early as 1812. The period after the Civil War is called the Reconstruction era.



There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the "Old South." Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind...

— From the opening of the film Gone with the Wind (1939)

While most western civilizations mark an important turning point during the period of the 1800s due to the Industrial Revolution, those who romanticize the Antebellum South credit the widespread destruction of Sherman's March to the Sea from Atlanta to the Atlantic Ocean and the military occupation of the defeated Confederacy by Union forces during the period termed Reconstruction implemented in Florida, Tennessee, or the Trans-Mississippi states, instead.

More than any other single American work, Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel, Gone with the Wind and the subsequent 1939 film, have permanently altered historical perspective and fixed a slanted popularized image of pre-Civil War American history and are good examples of the romanticized view. The romanticized view looks back on the Antebellum Period with sentimental nostalgia, as an idealized pre-industrial highly-structured genteel and stable agrarian society, in contrast to the anxiety and struggle of modern life. The issue of slavery is largely ignored in Gone with the Wind — although Mitchell does make a point of examining the relationship between the slaves and their masters on the southern plantations. D. W. Griffith's 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, romanticized the pre-war South in a very similar way

Laws against slaves

Fugitive Slave Act: An act where suspected runaway slaves (who were not necessarily so) could be forced to return south to their home plantations


The term antebellum is also used to describe the architecture of the pre-war South. Many Southern plantation houses use this style, including:

See also


  1. ^ Welcome To Monmouth Plantation
  2. ^ Old Governor’s Mansion

External links



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Latin ante (before) + bellum (war)


antebellum (not comparable)


not comparable

none (absolute)

  1. Of the time period prior to a war.
    A renewed sense of national pride arose in Hitler's antebellum Germany.
  2. In the United States of America, of the period prior to the American Civil War, especially in reference to the culture of the southern states.
    Slavery was an accepted part of antebellum plantation life.





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