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Humanities 2015, 4(3), 334-352; doi:10.3390/h4030334

Hair, Death, and Memory: The Making of an American Relic

English Department, Bluefield College, 3000 College Avenue, Bluefield, VA 24605, USA
Academic Editor: Albrecht Classen
Received: 26 June 2015 / Accepted: 14 August 2015 / Published: 20 August 2015
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Abstract

This article traces the transformation of hairworks in America during the mid-nineteenth-century. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin transformed the meaning of hair and hairworks in the American cultural imaginary by endowing Little Evangeline St. Clare’s hair with sacred, moralizing power. Likewise, after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s hair achieved nationwide, relic-like significance. The Abraham Lincoln Papers contains six hair requests; these letters demonstrate that the cultural meaning of Lincoln’s hair resembles the fictional power of Eva’s hair in Stowe’s novel. Analyzing this phenomena of relic-like hair modifies our understanding of the unprecedented sentimental reaction to Lincoln’s assassination and particularly the fascination with seeing and approaching the president’s body. View Full-Text
Keywords: President Abraham Lincoln; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Emancipation Proclamation; Civil War; abolition President Abraham Lincoln; Harriet Beecher Stowe; Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Emancipation Proclamation; Civil War; abolition
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Heiniger, A. Hair, Death, and Memory: The Making of an American Relic. Humanities 2015, 4, 334-352.

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