front cover of American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War
American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War
Edited by Robert E. Gallman and John Joseph Wallis
University of Chicago Press, 1992
This benchmark volume addresses the debate over the effects of early industrialization on standards of living during the decades before the Civil War. Its contributors demonstrate that the aggregate antebellum economy was growing faster than any other large economy had grown before.

Despite the dramatic economic growth and rise in income levels, questions remain as to the general quality of life during this era. Was the improvement in income widely shared? How did economic growth affect the nature of work? Did higher levels of income lead to improved health and longevity? The authors address these questions by analyzing new estimates of labor force participation, real wages, and productivity, as well as of the distribution of income, height, and nutrition.
[more]

front cover of Black Women Abolitionists
Black Women Abolitionists
Study In Activism, 1828-1860
Shirley J. Yee
University of Tennessee Press, 1992
By virtue of being both black and female in antebellum America, black women abolitionists confronted a particular set of tensions. Whether they supported the movement directly or indirectly, cooperated with whites or primarily with other blacks, worked in groups or independently, were well off financially or struggled to make ends meet, their lives reflected the complex dynamics of race, sex, and class. Against the background of slavery, constructing a life in "freedom" meant adopting many of the values of free white society, symbolized in part by male dominance and female subordination. In championing both their race and their sex, female black abolitionists found themselves caught between the sexism of the antislavery movement and the racism of the (white) women's movement. Throughout their writing, speeches, petitions, and participation in antislavery, and self-help organizations, these women established a pattern of black female activism--centered on community-building, political organizing, and forging a network of friendships with other activists--that served as a model for later generations of black women. Drawing on a wide array of previously untapped primary sources, Shirley Yee examines the activism of black women in the Northeast, the Midwest, and to some extent, California and Canada. The activists' experiences render heartbreakingly clear the pervasiveness of middle-class white values in antebellum America and the contradictions and ironies inherent in prevailing conceptions of "freedom"--Back cover.
 
[more]

front cover of Contesting the Constitution
Contesting the Constitution
Congress Debates the Missouri Crisis, 1819-1821
William S. Belko
University of Missouri Press, 2021
The admission of Missouri to the Union quickly became a constitutional crisis of the first order, inciting an intensive reexamination of the U.S. Constitution by the U.S. Congress. The heart of the question in need of resolution was whether that body possessed the authority to place conditions on a territory—in this instance Missouri—regarding restrictions on slavery—before its admittance to the Union.

The larger question with which the legislators grappled were the limits of the Constitution’s provisions granting Congress the authority to affect the institution of slavery—both where it already existed and where it could expand. The issue—what would come to be known as the Missouri Crisis—severely tested the still young republic and, some four decades later, would all but rend it asunder. This timely collection of original essays thoughtfully engages the intersections of history and constitutional law, and is certain to find eager readers among historians, legal scholars, political scientists, as well as many who call Missouri home.

Contributing Authors:
William S. Belko
Christopher Childers
John Eastman
Brook Poston
John R. Van Atta
[more]

front cover of Crusade Against Slavery
Crusade Against Slavery
Edward Coles, Pioneer of Freedom
Kurt E. Leichtle and Bruce G. Carveth
Southern Illinois University Press, 2011
Edward Coles was a wealthy heir to a central Virginia plantation, an ardent emancipator, the second governor of Illinois, the loyal personal secretary to President James Madison, and a close antislavery associate of Thomas Jefferson. Yet never before has a full-length book detailed his remarkable life story and his role in the struggle to free all slaves. In Crusade Against Slavery, Kurt E. Leichtle and Bruce G. Carveth correct this oversight with the first modern and complete biography of a unique but little-known and quietly influential figure in American history. 

Rejecting slavery from a young age, Coles's early wishes to free his family's slaves initially were stymied by legal, practical, and family barriers. Instead he went to Washington, D.C., where his work in the White House was a life-changing blend of social glitter, secretarial drudge, and distasteful political patronage. Returning home, he researched places where he could live out his ideals. After considerable planning and preparation, he left his family's Virginia tobacco plantation in 1819 and started the long trip west to Edwardsville, Illinois, pausing along the Ohio River on an emotional April morning to free his slaves and offer each family 160 acres of Illinois land of their own. Some continued to work for Coles, while others were left to find work for themselves. This book revisits the lives of the slaves Coles freed, including a noted preacher and contributor to the founding of what is now the second-oldest black Baptist organization in America. 

Crusade Against Slavery details Coles's struggles with frontier life and his surprise run and election to the office of Illinois governor as well as his continuing antislavery activities. At great personal cost, he led the effort to block a constitutional convention that would have legalized slavery in the state, which resulted in an acrimonious civil suit brought on by his political enemies, who claimed he violated the law by not issuing a bond of emancipation for his slaves. Although initially convicted by a partisan jury, Coles was vindicated when the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the lower courts. Through the story of Coles's moral and legal battles against slavery, Leichtle and Carveth unearth new perspectives on an institution that was on unsure footing yet strongly ingrained in the business interests at the economic base of the fledgling state. 

In 1831, after less than a decade in Illinois-and after losing a bid for Congress-Coles left for Philadelphia, where he remained in correspondence with Madison about the issue of slavery. Drawing on previous incomplete treatments of Coles's life, including his own short memoir, Crusade Against Slavery includes the first published analysis of Madison's failure to free his slaves despite his plans to do so through his will and a fascinating exploration of Coles's struggle to understand Madison's inability to live up to the ideals both men shared.
[more]

front cover of The Dead March
The Dead March
A History of the Mexican-American War
Peter Guardino
Harvard University Press, 2020

Winner of the Bolton-Johnson Prize
Winner of the Utley Prize
Winner of the Distinguished Book Award, Society for Military History


The Dead March incorporates the work of Mexican historians…in a story that involves far more than military strategy, diplomatic maneuvering, and American political intrigue…Studded with arresting insights and convincing observations.”
—James Oakes, New York Review of Books

“Superb…A remarkable achievement, by far the best general account of the war now available. It is critical, insightful, and rooted in a wealth of archival sources; it brings far more of the Mexican experience than any other work…and it clearly demonstrates the social and cultural dynamics that shaped Mexican and American politics and military force.”
Journal of American History

It has long been held that the United States emerged victorious from the Mexican–American War because its democratic system was more stable and its citizens more loyal. But this award-winning history shows that Americans dramatically underestimated the strength of Mexican patriotism and failed to see how bitterly Mexicans resented their claims to national and racial superiority. Their fierce resistance surprised US leaders, who had expected a quick victory with few casualties.

By focusing on how ordinary soldiers and civilians in both countries understood and experienced the conflict, The Dead March offers a clearer picture of the brief, bloody war that redrew the map of North America.

[more]

front cover of Democracy in America
Democracy in America
Alexis de Tocqueville
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) came to America in 1831 to see what a great republic was like. What struck him most was the country's equality of conditions, its democracy. The book he wrote on his return to France, Democracy in America, is both the best ever written on democracy and the best ever written on America. It remains the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone.
 
When it was published in 2000, Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop's new translation of Democracy in America—only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840—was lauded in all quarters as the finest and most definitive edition of Tocqueville's classic thus far. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of Tocqueville's language, with the expressed goal "to convey Tocqueville's thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms of today." The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, but with impeccable annotations of unfamiliar references and a masterful introduction placing the work and its author in the broader contexts of political philosophy and statesmanship.
 
[more]

front cover of Fanatics and Fire-eaters
Fanatics and Fire-eaters
Newspapers and the Coming of the Civil War
Lorman A. Ratner and Dwight L. Teeter Jr.
University of Illinois Press, 2003

In the troubled years leading up to the Civil War, newspapers in the North and South presented the arguments for and against slavery, debated the right to secede, and in general denounced opposing viewpoints with imagination and vigor. At the same time, new technologies like railroads and the telegraph lent the debates an immediacy that both enflamed emotions and brought the slavery issue into every home. 

Lorman A. Ratner and Dwight L. Teeter Jr. look at the power of America's fast-growing media to influence perception and the course of events prior to the Civil War. Drawing on newspaper accounts from across the United States, the authors look at how the media covered—and the public reacted to—major events like the Dred Scott decision, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, and the election of 1860. They find not only North-South disputes about the institution of slavery but differing visions of the republic itself—and which region was the true heir to the legacy of the American Revolution.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Fierce Communion
Family and Community in Early America
Helena Wall
Harvard University Press, 1990

Helena Wall shows what life was like in colonial America, a culture where individuals and family were subordinated to the demands of the community. Using local town, church, and especially court records from every colony, she examines the division of authority between family and community throughout colonial America.

Although this close relationship and its consequences for private life bred many tensions and conflicts, the premises and conditions of that interdependent association persisted even into the nineteenth century. Wall sketches the subsequent changes and outlines the new arrangements of family and community life as the colonies moved toward the formation of a new nation.

[more]

front cover of A Fire Bell in the Past
A Fire Bell in the Past
The Missouri Crisis at 200, Volume I, Western Slavery, National Impasse
Jeffrey L. Pasley
University of Missouri Press, 2021
Many new states entered the United States around 200 years ago, but only Missouri almost killed the nation it was trying to join. When the House of Representatives passed the Tallmadge Amendment banning slavery from the prospective new state in February 1819, it set off a two-year political crisis in which growing northern antislavery sentiment confronted the southern whites’ aggressive calls for slavery’s westward expansion. The Missouri Crisis divided the U.S. into slave and free states for the first time and crystallized many of the arguments and conflicts that would later be settled violently during the Civil War. The episode was, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “a fire bell in the night” that terrified him as the possible “knell of the Union.”

Drawing on the participants in two landmark conferences held at the University of Missouri and the City University of New York, this first of two volumes finds myriad new perspectives on the Missouri Crisis. Celebrating Missouri’s bicentennial the scholarly way, with fresh research and unsparing analysis, this eloquent collection of essays from distinguished historians gives the epochal struggle over Missouri statehood its due as a major turning point in American history.

Contributors include the editors, Christa Dierksheide, David N. Gellman, Sarah L. H. Gronningsater, Robert Lee, Donald Ratcliffe, Andrew Shankman, Anne Twitty, John R. Van Atta, and David Waldstreicher.

 
[more]

front cover of A Fire Bell in the Past
A Fire Bell in the Past
The Missouri Crisis at 200, Volume II: “The Missouri Question” and Its Answers
Jeffrey L. Pasley
University of Missouri Press, 2021
Many new states entered the United States around 200 years ago, but only Missouri almost killed the nation it was trying to join. When the House of Representatives passed the Tallmadge Amendment banning slavery from the prospective new state in February 1819, it set off a two-year political crisis in which growing northern antislavery sentiment confronted the aggressive westward expansion of the peculiar institution by southerners. The Missouri Crisis divided the U.S. into slave and free states for the first time and crystallized many of the arguments and conflicts that would later be settled violently during the Civil War. The episode was, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “a fire bell in the night” that terrified him as the possible “knell of the Union.”

Drawn from the of participants in two landmark conferences held at the University of Missouri and the City University of New York, those who contributed original essays to this second of two volumes—a group that includes young scholars and foremost authorities in the field—answer the Missouri “Question,” in bold fashion, challenging assumptions both old and new in the long historiography by approaching the event on its own terms, rather than as the inevitable sequel of the flawed founding of the republic or a prequel to its near destruction.

This second volume of A Fire Bell in the Past features a foreword by Daive Dunkley. Contributors include Dianne Mutti Burke, Christopher Childers, Edward P. Green, Zachary Dowdle, David J. Gary, Peter Kastor, Miriam Liebman, Matthew Mason, Kate Masur, Mike McManus, Richard Newman, and Nicholas Wood.
 
[more]

front cover of Frank Blair
Frank Blair
Lincoln's Conservative
William E. Parrish
University of Missouri Press, 1998

Known for his fearlessness in both the political arena and the battlefield, Frank Blair is a Missouri legend. As a member of one of the most prominent and powerful political families in America during the nineteenth century, possibly the equivalent of the twentieth-century Kennedys, Frank was steeped in politics at an early age. The youngest son of Francis Preston Blair, editor of Andrew Jackson's Washington Globe and adviser to Presidents Andrew Jackson through Andrew Johnson, Frank Blair was greatly influenced by his father, who had high political expectations of him.

Volatile and combative, Blair was either strongly admired or hated by the public figures of his day. He held adamantly to his opinions and fought hard for his political causes. He was an ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln and championed the president's program in Congress and in Missouri against the frequent assaults of the Radicals. Credited with being the principal leader in saving Missouri for the Union in 1861, Blair later served with great distinction at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and in the Sherman campaigns throughout Georgia and the Carolinas. He is one of only two Missourians ever honored by his state in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol.

Frank Blair: Lincoln's Conservative reveals the full extent of Blair's importance as a national political figure. Specialists in nineteenth-century America, students of Missouri history, and Civil War buffs will welcome this study, which will long stand as the definitive work on this influential and colorful character.

[more]

front cover of The Golden Age of the Classics in America
The Golden Age of the Classics in America
Carl J. Richard
Harvard University Press, 2009

In a masterful study, Carl J. Richard explores how the Greek and Roman classics became enshrined in American antebellum culture. For the first time, knowledge of the classics extended beyond aristocratic males to the middle class, women, African Americans, and frontier settlers.

The classics shaped how Americans interpreted developments around them. The example of Athens allowed politicians of the democratic age to espouse classical knowledge without seeming elitist. The Industrial Revolution produced a backlash against utilitarianism that centered on the classics. Plato and other ancients had a profound influence on the American romantics who created the first national literature, and pious Christians in an age of religious fervor managed to reconcile their faith with the literature of a pagan culture. The classics supplied both sides of the slavery debate with their chief rhetorical tools: the Aristotelian defense of slavery to Southern slaveholders and the concept of natural law to the Northern abolitionists.

The Civil War led to a radical alteration of the educational system in a way that steadily eroded the preeminence of the classics. They would never regain the profound influence they held in the antebellum era.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
The Greatest Nation of the Earth
Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War
Heather Cox Richardson
Harvard University Press, 1997

While fighting a war for the Union, the Republican party attempted to construct the world’s most powerful and most socially advanced nation. Rejecting the common assumption that wartime domestic legislation was a series of piecemeal reactions to wartime necessities, Heather Cox Richardson argues that party members systematically engineered pathbreaking laws to promote their distinctive theory of political economy.

Republicans were a dynamic, progressive party, the author shows, that championed a specific type of economic growth. They floated billions of dollars in bonds, developed a national currency and banking system, imposed income taxes and high tariffs, passed homestead legislation, launched the Union Pacific railroad, and eventually called for the end of slavery. Their aim was to encourage the economic success of individual Americans and to create a millennium for American farmers, laborers, and small capitalists.

However, Richardson demonstrates, while Republicans were trying to construct a nation of prosperous individuals, they were laying the foundation for rapid industrial expansion, corporate corruption, and popular protest. They created a newly active national government that they determined to use only to promote unregulated economic development. Unwittingly, they ushered in the Gilded Age.

[more]

front cover of Inequality in Early America
Inequality in Early America
Carla Gardina Pestana
Dartmouth College Press, 2015
This book was designed as a collaborative effort to satisfy a long-felt need to pull together many important but separate inquiries into the nature and impact of inequality in colonial and revolutionary America. It also honors the scholarship of Gary Nash, who has contributed much of the leading work in this field. The 15 contributors, who constitute a Who's Who of those who have made important discoveries and reinterpretations of this issue, include Mary Beth Norton on women's legal inequality in early America; Neal Salisbury on Puritan missionaries and Native Americans; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on elite and poor women's work in early Boston; Peter Wood and Philip Morgan on early American slavery; as well as Gary Nash himself writing on Indian/white history. This book is a vital contribution to American self-understanding and to historical analysis.
[more]

front cover of Inheriting the Revolution
Inheriting the Revolution
Joyce Appleby
Harvard University Press, 2000

Born after the Revolution, the first generation of Americans inherited a truly new world--and, with it, the task of working out the terms of Independence. Anyone who started a business, marketed a new invention, ran for office, formed an association, or wrote for publication was helping to fashion the world's first liberal society. These are the people we encounter in Inheriting the Revolution, a vibrant tapestry of the lives, callings, decisions, desires, and reflections of those Americans who turned the new abstractions of democracy, the nation, and free enterprise into contested realities.

Through data gathered on thousands of people, as well as hundreds of memoirs and autobiographies, Joyce Appleby tells myriad intersecting stories of how Americans born between 1776 and 1830 reinvented themselves and their society in politics, economics, reform, religion, and culture. They also had to grapple with the new distinction of free and slave labor, with all its divisive social entailments; the rout of Enlightenment rationality by the warm passions of religious awakening; the explosion of small business opportunities for young people eager to break out of their parents' colonial cocoon. Few in the nation escaped the transforming intrusiveness of these changes. Working these experiences into a vivid picture of American cultural renovation, Appleby crafts an extraordinary--and deeply affecting--account of how the first generation established its own culture, its own nation, its own identity.



The passage of social responsibility from one generation to another is always a fascinating interplay of the inherited and the novel; this book shows how, in the early nineteenth century, the very idea of generations resonated with new meaning in the United States.

[more]

front cover of The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827–1835
The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827–1835
A Substitute for Social Intercourse
Edited by Sarah Woolfolk Wiggins with Ruth Smith Truss
University of Alabama Press, 2013
Astonishing, tragic, and remarkable, the journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, wife of early Alabama governor John Gayle, is among the most widely studied and seminal accounts of antebellum life in the American South. This is the first complete edition of the journal in print.
 
Bereft of the companionship of her often-absent husband, Sarah considered her journal “a substitute for social intercourse” during the period from 1827 to 1835. It became the social and intellectual companion to which she confided stories that reflected her personal life and the world of early Alabama. Sarah speaks directly to us of her loneliness, the challenges of child rearing, her fear of and frustration with the management of slaves, and the difficulty of balancing the responsibilities of a socially prominent woman with her family’s slender finances.

The poor condition of the journal and its transcripts, sometimes disintegrated or reassembled in the wrong order, has led historians to misinterpret Gayle’s words. Gayle’s descendants, Alabama’s famed Gorgases, deliberately obscured or defaced many passages. Using archival techniques to recover the text and restore the correct order, Sarah Wiggins and Ruth Truss reveal the unknown story of Sarah’s economic hardships, the question of her husband’s “temperance,” and her opium use.

The only reliable and unexpurgated edition of Sarah Gayle’s journal, now enhanced with a fascinating introduction and inset notes, The Journal of Sarah Haynsworth Gayle, 1827–1835, is a robust and gripping account and will be of inestimable value to our understanding of antebellum society, religion, intellectual culture, and slavery.

Published in cooperation with the University Libraries, The University of Alabama, with further financial support from the Library Leadership Board, the University Libraries, The University of Alabama.
 
[more]

front cover of Junius And Joseph
Junius And Joseph
Presidential Politics and the Assassination of the First Mormon Prophet
Robert S. Wicks & Fred R. Foister
Utah State University Press, 2005
"Junius and Joseph examines Joseph Smith's nearly forgotten [1844] presidential bid, the events leading up to his assassination on June 27, 1844, and the tangled aftermath of the tragic incident. It... establishes that Joseph Smith's murder, rather than being the deadly outcome of a spontaneous mob uprising, was in fact a carefully planned military-style execution. It is now possible to identify many of the key individuals engaged in planning his assassination as well as those who took part in the assault on Carthage jail. And furthermore, this study presents incontrovertible evidence that the effort to remove the Mormon leader from power and influence extended well beyond Hancock County [Illinois] (and included prominent Whig politicians as well as the Democratic governor of the state), thereby transforming his death from an impulsive act by local vigilantes into a political assassination sanctioned by some of the most powerful men in Illinois. The circumstances surrounding Joseph Smith's death also serve to highlight the often unrecognized truth that a full understanding of early Mormon history can be gained only when considered in the context of events taking place in American society as a whole."
[more]

front cover of Law and the Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century United States
Law and the Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth-Century United States
James Willard Hurst
University of Wisconsin Press, 1964

In these essays J. Willard Hurst shows the correlation between the conception of individual freedom and the application of law in the nineteenth-century United States—how individuals sought to use law to increase both their personal freedom and their opportunities for personal growth. These essays in jurisprudence and legal history are also a contribution to the study of social and intellectual history in the United States, to political science, and to economics as it concerns the role of public policy in our economy. The nonlawyer will find in them demonstration of how "technicalities" express deep issues of social values.

[more]

front cover of Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream
Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream
Gabor S. Boritt
University of Illinois Press, 1994
This unique exploration of Lincoln's economic beliefs shows how they helped shape his view of slavery, his conduct of the war, and most fundamentally his understanding of what the United States was and could become.
[more]

front cover of Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature
Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature
Ron J Keller
Southern Illinois University Press, 2019
In this indispensable account of Abraham Lincoln’s earliest political years, Ron J. Keller reassesses Lincoln’s arguably lackluster legislative record during four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives to reveal how the underpinnings of his temperament, leadership skills, and political acumen were bolstered on the statehouse floor.
 
Due partly to Lincoln’s own reserve and partly to an unimpressive legislative tally, Lincoln’s time in the state legislature has been largely neglected by historians more drawn to other early hallmarks of his life, including his law career, his personal life, and his single term as a U.S. congressman in the 1840s. Of about sixteen hundred bills, resolutions, and petitions passed from 1834 to 1842, Lincoln introduced only about thirty of them. The issue he most ardently championed and shepherded through the legislature—the internal improvements system—left the state in debt for more than a generation.
 
Despite that spotty record, Keller argues, it was during these early years that Lincoln displayed and honed the traits that would allow him to excel in politics and ultimately define his legacy: honesty, equality, empathy, and leadership. Keller reanimates Lincoln’s time in the Illinois legislature to reveal the formation of Lincoln’s strong character and political philosophy in those early years, which allowed him to rise to prominence as the Whig party’s floor leader regardless of setbacks and to build a framework for his future.
 
Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature details Lincoln’s early political platform and the grassroots campaigning that put him in office. Drawing on legislative records, newspaper accounts, speeches, letters, and other sources, Keller describes Lincoln’s positions on key bills, highlights his colleagues’ perceptions of him, and depicts the relationships that grew out of his statehouse interactions. Keller’s research delves into Lincoln’s popularity as a citizen of New Salem, his political alliances and victories, his antislavery stirrings, and his personal joys and struggles as he sharpened his political shrewdness.
 
Keller argues Lincoln’s definitive political philosophies—economic opportunity and the right to rise, democratic equality, and to a lesser extent his hatred of slavery—took root during his legislative tenure in Illinois. Situating Lincoln’s tenure and viewpoints within the context of national trends, Keller demonstrates that understanding Lincoln’s four terms as a state legislator is vital to understanding him as a whole.
 
[more]

front cover of Lincoln's America
Lincoln's America
1809 - 1865
Edited by Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard
Southern Illinois University Press, 2008

To fully understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s legacy, it is important to examine the society that influenced the life, character, and leadership of the man who would become the Great Emancipator. Editors Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard have done just that in Lincoln’s America: 1809–1865, a collection of original essays by ten eminent historians that place Lincoln within his nineteenth-century cultural context.

Among the topics explored in Lincoln’s America are religion, education, middle-class family life, the antislavery movement, politics, and law. Of particular interest are the transition of American intellectual and philosophical thought from the Enlightenment to Romanticism and the influence of this evolution on Lincoln's own ideas.

By examining aspects of Lincoln’s life—his personal piety in comparison with the beliefs of his contemporaries, his success in self-schooling when frontier youths had limited opportunities for a formal education, his marriage and home life in Springfield, and his legal career—in light of broader cultural contexts such as the development of democracy, the growth of visual arts, the question of slaves as property, and French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations on America, the contributors delve into the mythical Lincoln of folklore and discover a developing political mind and a changing nation.

As Lincoln’s America shows, the sociopolitical culture of nineteenth-century America was instrumental in shaping Lincoln’s character and leadership. The essays in this volume paint a vivid picture of a young nation and its sixteenth president, arguably its greatest leader.

[more]

front cover of Lincoln's Preparation for Greatness
Lincoln's Preparation for Greatness
THE ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE YEARS
Paul Simon
University of Illinois Press, 1971
 
       "Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Illinois Legislature from
        1834 to 1842 -- one of the Long Nine, as the Sangamon County delegation
        was known, all its members being more than six feet tall. It was during
        these eight years that he came as close to scandal as he was ever to come
        in his public or private life. Did he, or did he not, engage in shameless
        logrolling to get the state capital moved to Springfield? This and other
        aspects of Lincoln's apprenticeship in the legislator . . . are thoroughly
        investigated."
        -- Chicago Sun-Times
      "The wealth of detail it contains makes it a worthwhile addition
        to the study of Lincoln's legislative career."
        -- Los Angeles Times
 
[more]

front cover of Living in the Land of Death
Living in the Land of Death
The Choctaw Nation, 1830-1860
Donna L. Akers
Michigan State University Press, 2004

With the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Choctaw people began their journey over the Trail of Tears from their homelands in Mississippi to the new lands of the Choctaw Nation. Suffering a death rate of nearly 20 percent due to exposure, disease, mismanagement, and fraud, they limped into Indian Territory, or, as they knew it, the Land of the Dead (the route taken by the souls of Choctaw people after death on their way to the Choctaw afterlife). Their first few years in the new nation affirmed their name for the land, as hundreds more died from whooping cough, floods, starvation, cholera, and smallpox.
     Living in the Land of the Dead depicts the story of Choctaw survival, and the evolution of the Choctaw people in their new environment. Culturally, over time, their adaptation was one of homesteads and agriculture, eventually making them self-sufficient in the rich new lands of Indian Territory. Along the Red River and other major waterways several Choctaw families of mixed heritage built plantations, and imported large crews of slave labor to work cotton fields. They developed a sub-economy based on interaction with the world market. However, the vast majority of Choctaws continued with their traditional subsistence economy that was easily adapted to their new environment.
     The immigrant Choctaws did not, however, move into land that was vacant. The U.S. government, through many questionable and some outright corrupt extralegal maneuvers, chose to believe it had gained title through negotiations with some of the peoples whose homelands and hunting grounds formed Indian Territory. Many of these indigenous peoples reacted furiously to the incursion of the Choctaws onto their rightful lands. They threatened and attacked the Choctaws and other immigrant Indian Nations for years. Intruding on others’ rightful homelands, the farming-based Choctaws, through occupation and economics, disrupted the traditional hunting economy practiced by the Southern Plains Indians, and contributed to the demise of the Plains ways of life.

[more]

logo for Duke University Press
A Lydia Maria Child Reader
Carolyn L. Karcher, ed.
Duke University Press, 1997
From the 1820s to the 1870s, Lydia Maria Child was as familiar to the American public as her Thanksgiving song, "Over the river and through the wood, / To grandfather’s house we go," remains today. Hardly a sphere of nineteenth-century life can be found in which Child did not figure prominently as a pathbreaker. She crusaded against slavery and racism, combated religious bigotry, championed women’s rights, publicized the plight of the urban poor, and campaigned for justice toward Native Americans. Showing an uncanny ability to pinpoint and respond to new cultural needs, Child pioneered almost every category of nineteenth-century American letters—historical fiction, the short story, children’s literature, the domestic advice book, women’s history, antislavery fiction, journalism, and the literature of aging.
This rich collection is the first to represent the full range of Child’s contributions as a literary innovator, social reformer, and progressive thinker over a career spanning six decades. It features stories, editorials, articles, and letters to politicians culled from rare newspapers and periodicals and never before published in book form; extracts from her trailblazing childrearing manual, history of women, and primer for the emancipated slaves; and a generous sampling of her best-known writings on slavery, the Indian question, poverty, and women’s rights. Witty, incisive, and often daringly unconventional, Child’s writings open a panoramic window on nineteenth-century American culture while addressing issues still relevant to our own time. In this anthology, the editor of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl reemerges in her own right as one of the nation’s greatest prophets.
[more]

front cover of The Making of a Southerner
The Making of a Southerner
William Barclay Napton's Private Civil War
Christopher Phillips
University of Missouri Press, 2008
Christopher Phillips has brought to life a man, a story, and a voice lost in the din of competing post–Civil War narratives that each claim a timeless divide between North and South. William Barclay Napton (1808–1883) was an editor, lawyer, and state supreme court justice who lived in Missouri during the tumultuous American nineteenth century. He was a keen observer of the nation’s sectional politics just as he was a participant in those of his border state, the most divided of any in the nation, in the decades surrounding the Civil War. This book tells the story of one man’s civil war, lived and waged within the broader conflict, and the long shadows both cast.
But Napton’s story moves beyond the Civil War just as it transcends the formal political realm. His is a fascinating tale of identity politics and their shifting currents, by which the highly educated former New Jerseyite became the owner or trustee of nearly fifty slaves and one of the most committed and thoughtful of the nation’s proslavery ideologues. That a “northerner” could make such a life transition in the Border West suggests more than the powerful nature of slavery in antebellum American society. Napton’s story offers provocative insights into the process of southernization, one driven more by sectional ideology and politics than by elements of a distinctive southern culture.
Although Napton’s tragic Civil War experience was a watershed in his southern evolution, that evolution was completed only after he had constructed a politicized memory of the bitter conflict, one that was suffered nowhere worse than in Missouri. This war-driven transformation ultimately defined him and his family, just as it would his border state and region for decades to come. By suffering for the South, losing family and property in his defense of its ideals and principles, he claimed by right what he could not by birth. Napton became a southerner by choice.
Drawn from incomparable personal journals kept for more than fifty years and from voluminous professional and family correspondence, Napton’s life story offers a thoughtful and important perspective on the key issues and events that turned this northerner first into an avowed proslavery ideologue and then into a full southerner. As a prominent jurist who sat on Missouri’s high bench for more than a quarter century, he used his politicized position to give birth to the New South in the Old West. Students, teachers, and general readers of southern history, western history, and Civil War history will find this book of particular interest.
[more]

front cover of Messy Beginnings
Messy Beginnings
Postcoloniality and Early American Studies
Edited by Malini Johar Schueller and Edward Watts
Rutgers University Press, 2003

When exploring the links between America and postcolonialism, scholars tend to think either in terms of contemporary multiculturalism, or of imperialism since 1898.  This narrow view has left more than the two prior centuries of colonizing literary and political culture unexamined.

Messy Beginnings challenges the idea of early America’s immunity from issues of imperialism, that its history is not as “clean” as European colonialism.  By addressing  the literature ranging from the diaries of American women missionaries in the Middle East to the work of Benjamin Franklin and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and through appraisals of key postcolonial theorists such as Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, and Homi Bhabha, the contributors to this volume explore the applicability of their models to early American culture. 

 Messy Beginnings argues against the simple concept that the colonization of what became the United States was a confrontation between European culture and the “other.”  Contributors examine the formation of America through the messy or unstable negotiations of the idea of “nation.” 

The essays forcefully show that the development of  “Americanness” was a raced and classed phenomenon, achieved through a complex series of violent encounters, legal maneuvers, and political compromises.   The complexity of early American colonization, where there was not one coherent “nation” to conquer, contradicts the simple label of imperialism used in other lands. The unique approach of Messy Beginnings will reshape both pre-conceived notions of postcolonialism, and how postcolonialists think about the development of the American nation.

[more]

front cover of The Panic of 1819
The Panic of 1819
The First Great Depression
Andrew H. Browning
University of Missouri Press, 2019
The Panic of 1819 tells the story of the first nationwide economic collapse to strike the United States. Much more than a banking crisis or real estate bubble, the Panic was the culmination of an economic wave that rolled through the United States, forming before the War of 1812, cresting with the land and cotton boom of 1818, and crashing just as the nation confronted the crisis over slavery in Missouri.

The Panic introduced Americans to the new phenomenon of boom and bust, changed the country's attitudes towards wealth and poverty, spurred the political movement that became Jacksonian Democracy, and helped create the sectional divide that would lead to the Civil War. Although it stands as one of the turning points of American history, few Americans today have heard of the Panic of 1819, with the result that we continue to ignore its lessons—and repeat its mistakes.
[more]

front cover of Parties Politics Sectional Conflict
Parties Politics Sectional Conflict
Tennessee 1832-1861
Jonathan M. Atkins
University of Tennessee Press, 1997

In this thought-provoking study, Jonathan M. Atkins provides a fresh look at the partisan ideological battles that marked the political culture of antebellum Tennessee. He argues that the legacy of party politics was a key factor in shaping Tennessee's hesitant course during the crisis of Union in 1860–61.

Between the Jacksonian era and the outbreak of the Civil War, Atkins demonstrates, the competition between Democrats and Whigs in Tennessee was as heated as any in the country. The conflict centered largely on differing conceptions of republican liberty and each party's contention that the other posed a serious threat to that liberty. As the slavery question pushed to the forefront of national politics, Tennessee's parties absorbed the issue into the partisan tumult that already existed. Both parties pledged to defend southern interests while preserving the integrity of the Union. Appeals for the defense of liberty and Union interests proved effective with voters and profoundly influenced the state's actions during the secession crisis. The belief that a new national Union party could preserve the Union while checking the Lincoln administration encouraged voters initially to reject secession. With the outbreak of war, however, West and Middle Tennesseans chose to accept disunion to avoid what they saw as coercion and military despotism by the North. East Tennesseans, meanwhile, preferred loyalty to the Union over membership in a Southern confederacy dominated by a slaveholding aristocracy.

No previous book has so clearly detailed the role of party politics and ideology in Tennessee's early history. As Atkins shows, the ideological debate helps to explain not only the character and survival of Tennessee's party system but also the peristent strength of unionism in a state that ultimately joined the Southern cause.

The Author: Jonathan M. Atkins is assistant professor of history at Berry College in Mt. Berry, Georgia.
 

[more]

front cover of The Saints and the State
The Saints and the State
The Mormon Troubles in Illinois
James Simeone
Ohio University Press, 2021

A compelling history of the 1846 Mormon expulsion from Illinois that exemplifies the limits of American democracy and religious tolerance.

When members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (known as Mormons) settled in Illinois in 1839, they had been persecuted for their beliefs from Ohio to Missouri. Illinoisans viewed themselves as religiously tolerant egalitarians and initially welcomed the Mormons to their state. However, non-Mormon locals who valued competitive individualism perceived the saints‘ western Illinois settlement, Nauvoo, as a theocracy with too much political power. Amid escalating tensions in 1844, anti-Mormon vigilantes assassinated church founder Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Two years later, the state expelled the saints. Illinois rejected the Mormons not for their religion, but rather for their effort to create a self-governing state in Nauvoo.

Mormons put the essential aspirations of American liberal democracy to the test in Illinois. The saints’ inward group focus and their decision to live together in Nauvoo highlight the challenges strong group consciousness and attachment pose to democratic governance. The Saints and the State narrates this tragic story as an epic failure of governance and shows how the conflicting demands of fairness to the Mormons and accountability to Illinois’s majority became incompatible.

[more]

front cover of The Union on Trial
The Union on Trial
The Political Journals of Judge William Barclay Napton, 1829-1883
Edited by Christopher Phillips & Jason L. Pendleton. Introduction by Christopher Phillips
University of Missouri Press, 2005
Spanning some fifty-four years, The Union on Trial is a fascinating look at the journals that William Barclay Napton (1808–1883), an editor, Missouri lawyer, and state supreme court judge, kept from his time as a student at Princeton to his death in Missouri. Although a northerner by birth, Napton, the owner or trustee of forty-six slaves, viewed American society through a decidedly proslavery lens.
Focusing on events between the 1850s and 1870s, especially those associated with the Civil War and Reconstruction, The Union on Trial contains Napton’s political reflections, offering thoughtful and important perspectives of an educated northern-cum-southern rightist on the key issues that turned Missouri toward the South during the Civil War era. Although Napton’s journals offer provocative insights into the process of southernization on the border, their real value lies in their author’s often penetrating analysis of the political, legal, and constitutional revolution that the Civil War generated. Yet the most obvious theme that emerges from Napton’s journals is the centrality of slavery in Missourians’ measure of themselves and the nation and, ultimately, in how border states constructed their southernness out of the tumultuous events of the era.
Napton’s impressions of the constitutional crises surrounding the Civil War and Reconstruction offer essential arguments with which to consider the magnitude of the nation’s most transforming conflict. The book also provides a revealing look at the often intensely political nature of jurists in nineteenth-century America. A lengthy introduction contextualizes Napton’s life and beliefs, assessing his transition from northerner to southerner largely as a product of his political transformation to a proslavery, states’ rights Democrat but also as a result of his marriage into a slaveholding family. Napton’s tragic Civil War experience was a watershed in his southern evolution, a process that mirrored his state’s transformation and one that, by way of memory and politics, ultimately defined both.
Students and scholars of American history, Missouri history, and the Civil War will find this volume indispensable reading.
[more]

front cover of The Urban Crucible
The Urban Crucible
Gary B. Nash
Harvard University Press, 1986
The Urban Crucible boldly reinterprets colonial life and the origins of the American Revolution. Through a century-long history of three seaport towns—Boston, New York, and Philadelphia—Gary Nash discovers subtle changes in social and political awareness and describes the coming of the revolution through popular collective action and challenges to rule by custom, law and divine will. A reordering of political power required a new consciousness to challenge the model of social relations inherited from the past and defended by higher classes. While retaining all the main points of analysis and interpretation, the author has reduced the full complement of statistics, sources, and technical data contained in the original edition to serve the needs of general readers and undergraduates.
[more]

front cover of When Lincoln Came to Egypt
When Lincoln Came to Egypt
George W. Smith, with a Foreword by Daniel W. Stowell
Southern Illinois University Press, 2017
In When Lincoln Came to Egypt, George W. Smith provides a detailed record of Abraham Lincoln’s travel in the southernmost region of Illinois, commonly referred to as Egypt. These visits began in 1830, before Lincoln had held public office, and continued through 1858, when he debated Stephen A. Douglas in Jonesboro and Alton as they ran against each other for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Lincoln found in the southern third of Illinois a political climate very different from that of central Illinois, where his career had begun. Lincoln’s trips to Egypt thus broadened his experience and understanding of the state as well as the nation. Smith discusses the origins of the people of the region and Lincoln’s early public life and provides historical and political background for his detailed discussion of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The culmination of fifty years of extensive research, When Lincoln Came to Egypt provides a glimpse into an often overlooked part of Lincoln’s development as a politician.
[more]

front cover of Young America
Young America
Land, Labor, and the Republican Community
Mark A. Lause
University of Illinois Press, 2005
The National Reform Association (NRA) was an antebellum land reform movement inspired by the shared dream of a future shaped by egalitarian homesteads. Mark A. Lause's Young America argues that it was these working people's interest in equitable access to the country's most obvious asset--land--that led them to advocate a federal homestead act granting land to the landless, state legislation to prohibit the foreclosure of family farms, and antimonopolistic limitations on land ownership.

Rooting the movement in contemporary economic structures and social ideology, Young America examines this urban and working-class "agrarianism," demonstrating how the political preoccupations of this movement transformed socialism by drawing its adherents from communitarian preoccupations into political action. The alliance of the NRA's land reformers and radical abolitionists led unprecedented numbers to petition Congress and established the foundations of what became the new Republican Party, promising "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men."
 
[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter