Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin has often been cited for its galvanizing effect on anti-slavery opposition in the years before the American Civil War. Southern sympathizers in the North (known as Copperheads) never came close to producing anything that matched its influence. One of the more interesting attempts was Fort Lafayette; or, Love and Secession (1862). The novel—which features liberal doses of love and lust, intrigue and violence, loyalty and death—is by no means great literature. It does, however, lay claim to being the only pacifist novel of the Civil War. Wood hoped to persuade his readers of the moral wrong, the folly, and the dangers to republican government of the war in which the country was engaged. The novel underscores the deep connections between Americans on both sides of the sectional conflict, the pain of their severance, and the suffering brought about by war.
For this reissue, Menahem Blondheim has provided a detailed introduction to the novel, the politics of the era, and Wood’s life and career. Two of Wood’s Congressional speeches are also included.