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Damsels, Demons, and the Sensationalized South: Ned Buntline’s Civil War

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Abstract:

During the nineteenth century, Edward Zane Carroll Judson was one of the most popular authors in America. Writing under several pseudonyms, but most commonly and famously under the name “Ned Buntline,” Judson first achieved notoriety in 1847 when he published two books: The Mysteries and Miseries of New York, a tell-all account of the urban underbelly of America’s new boom metropolis; and for his Pirate tale, The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, which became a boyhood favorite (decades later Mark Twain has his young hero yell “It’s Tom Sawyer the Pirate! — the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!”) From 1847 until his death in 1886, Judson wrote over one hundred pulp-fiction novels for the emerging cheap print market. He became one of the masters of this market, producing the wildly popular “Buffalo Bill” series in the 1870-80s, the books that launched William Cody’s career and played a major hand in popularizing the Wild West in America and abroad.

Judson reveled in controversy and often lent his notoriety to public causes. He was imprisoned for nearly a year for his violent participation in the anti-immigrant Astor Place Riot of 1849, and he was one of the instigators and main publicists for the rabidly nativist American or Know-Nothing political party of the 1850s. He was also a major temperance and morality circuit lecturer throughout this era, despite the fact that he was well-known for his drunken revelries and scandalous sexual relations—he was jailed for bigamy in 1854.

The intent of this presentation is to provide a brief overview of Judson’s colorful life, but to focus primarily on his political agenda in a period that he is not often associated with—the Civil War. Judson helped organize the New York Mounted Rifles for the Union in 1862 and fought in several battles (and claimed to have fought in several more), but his pen ultimately proved far effective than his sword. In 1862, just a few months after Charleston, SC was mysteriously burned to the ground, Judson published Ella Adams, or the Demon of Fire, an apocalyptic tale of a Northern schoolmarm in the South, who, after being tortured by Confederates, and with the help of many escaped slaves, wreaked righteous havoc on the South by burning towns to the ground as the Demon of Fire. This violent and sensational narrative reveals a complex picture of race and gender dynamics, putting them within the context of the Civil War and pushing questions of what it means to be truly American, truly Independent and truly Free. It also provides a profound look at how popular literature helped the North explain and justify its fight to preserve the Union and, perhaps, to reform the nation through different ideas about race, gender and what it means to be American.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509590_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Sawin, Mark. "Damsels, Demons, and the Sensationalized South: Ned Buntline’s Civil War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509590_index.html>

APA Citation:

Sawin, M. M. "Damsels, Demons, and the Sensationalized South: Ned Buntline’s Civil War" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore, MD <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p509590_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: During the nineteenth century, Edward Zane Carroll Judson was one of the most popular authors in America. Writing under several pseudonyms, but most commonly and famously under the name “Ned Buntline,” Judson first achieved notoriety in 1847 when he published two books: The Mysteries and Miseries of New York, a tell-all account of the urban underbelly of America’s new boom metropolis; and for his Pirate tale, The Black Avenger of the Spanish Main, which became a boyhood favorite (decades later Mark Twain has his young hero yell “It’s Tom Sawyer the Pirate! — the Black Avenger of the Spanish Main!”) From 1847 until his death in 1886, Judson wrote over one hundred pulp-fiction novels for the emerging cheap print market. He became one of the masters of this market, producing the wildly popular “Buffalo Bill” series in the 1870-80s, the books that launched William Cody’s career and played a major hand in popularizing the Wild West in America and abroad.

Judson reveled in controversy and often lent his notoriety to public causes. He was imprisoned for nearly a year for his violent participation in the anti-immigrant Astor Place Riot of 1849, and he was one of the instigators and main publicists for the rabidly nativist American or Know-Nothing political party of the 1850s. He was also a major temperance and morality circuit lecturer throughout this era, despite the fact that he was well-known for his drunken revelries and scandalous sexual relations—he was jailed for bigamy in 1854.

The intent of this presentation is to provide a brief overview of Judson’s colorful life, but to focus primarily on his political agenda in a period that he is not often associated with—the Civil War. Judson helped organize the New York Mounted Rifles for the Union in 1862 and fought in several battles (and claimed to have fought in several more), but his pen ultimately proved far effective than his sword. In 1862, just a few months after Charleston, SC was mysteriously burned to the ground, Judson published Ella Adams, or the Demon of Fire, an apocalyptic tale of a Northern schoolmarm in the South, who, after being tortured by Confederates, and with the help of many escaped slaves, wreaked righteous havoc on the South by burning towns to the ground as the Demon of Fire. This violent and sensational narrative reveals a complex picture of race and gender dynamics, putting them within the context of the Civil War and pushing questions of what it means to be truly American, truly Independent and truly Free. It also provides a profound look at how popular literature helped the North explain and justify its fight to preserve the Union and, perhaps, to reform the nation through different ideas about race, gender and what it means to be American.


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