It's interesting how wars and religious beliefs shape countries. Even national obsessions and reenactments.
Bibles and bullets had long gone together, and the Civil War was no exception. ... [The] American Bible Society published three million Bibles during the war, and three hundred thousand were smuggled from the North to the South. IN GOD WE TRUST was first placed on Union coins during this period; Thanksgiving became a recurring national holiday. And with 622,000 dead, heaven became a national obsession. Before the war, most people died at home, surrounded by family members, and heaven was a vague place where the deceased went to be with God. On average, the number of books about heaven published each year was not quite one. But with so many people dying far from home, and many bodies never returned, families became concerned about their loved ones. In the decade after the war, ninety-four books about heaven appeared. (pg. 159)
Beginning with the Puritans, the world was often referred to as God's "manifestation" and history as God's "destiny." Manifest destiny was another way of saying that God had chosen Anglo-Americans to convert the land for him - no matter who got misplaced. In the same way that colonizing America was viewed by many participants as a reenactment of the Exodus, many settlers heading west saw themselves as reliving the Israelites' flight into the wilderness to create a new American Israel. (pg. 148)
America's Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America by Bruce Feiler