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Civil War, U.S.: Deaf History of and Participation in

  • By: Harry G. Lang
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The Civil War (1861–1865) in the United States represents the first time in history that a war provided an opportunity for Deaf people to contribute meaningfully to a nation’s welfare. Rather than on an organized level, hundreds of individual Deaf men and women participated as soldiers, as journalists, and in a variety of other occupations, either to preserve the Union or to secede from it.

The antebellum period in America saw the Second Great Awakening give rise to a unique set of attitudes about Deaf people. In the decades immediately following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, evangelical preachers sought the salvation of Deaf people’s souls. Schools were established to foster spiritual, moral, and intellectual growth, and to develop skills in various trades, which would ...

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