Summary: Succinct, with a brace of original documents following each chapter, Christopher J. Olsen's ''The American Civil War ''is the ideal introduction to American history's most famous, and infamous, chapter. Covering events from 1850 and the mounting political pressures to split the Union into opposing sections, through the four years of bloodshed and waning Confederate fortunes, to Lincoln's assassination and the advent of Reconstruction, ''The'' ''American Civil War ''covers the entire
sectional conflict and at every juncture emphasizes the decisions and circumstances, large and small, that determined the course of events.
Summary: Succinct, with a brace of original documents following each chapter, Christopher J. Olsen's ''The American Civil War ''is the ideal introduction to American history's most famous, and infamous, chapter. Covering events from 1850 and the mounting political pressures to split the Union into opposing sections, through the four years of bloodshed and waning Confederate fortunes, to Lincoln's assassination and the advent of Reconstruction, ''The'' ''American Civil War ''covers the entire sectional conflict and at every juncture emphasizes the decisions and circumstances, large and small, that determined the course of events. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:07 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Hill and Wang Published: 07/24/2007 International: No
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Excerpted fromThe American Civil War: A Hands-on Historyby Christopher J. Olsen. Copyright 2006 by Christopher J. Olsen. Published in August, 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. ONE Political Sectionalism Before 1850 When the majority of white Southerners opted to secede from the Union in 1860 and 1861 it signaled a failure of the American political system and its renowned ability to compromise difficult problems. For most of the antebellum period, nearly all politicians tried to avoid a national discussion of slavery or slavery expansion, believing such a debate would be too divisive for the country. At times, though, the questions were unavoidable, and threatened to destroy the Union. In turn, Northerners and Southerners negotiated a series of compromises, a practice that stretched back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and that over the decades engaged the efforts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Stephen A. Douglas, Jefferson Davis, and others. These well-known figures effected compromises at the national level, but the debate over slavery eventually reached into America's communities and entered the conversations and feelings of ordinary folks, too. Most men and women across the country ultimately took positions on the growing sectional divide, and those individual choices determined the coming of the Civil War. What provoked these moments of national crisis? First, it is important to acknowledge that the vast majority of white Americans considered the practice of slavery a very different political or legal issue from slavery's expansion into territories where it nominally existed or did not exist. There was widespread agreement that slavery in the individual states was a local issue to be decided by residents of those states. In other words, even if the national governmentthat is, the majority of the voting public acting through Congresswanted to abolish slavery, it could not, because abolition was not permitted under the Constitution. But the expansion of slavery was something else. Territories were governed directly by Congress, and therefore the issue of whether or not slavery would be allowed to expand was a matter for the national government in Washington. Even before the Constitution was written, in fact, slavery in the West was an issue for the national government. America's earliest governing body, the Confederation Congress (constituted under the Articles of Confederation), approved the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, barring slavery from the Northwest Territory. In 1784 the Congress had considered a proposal from Thomas Jefferson (as part of his ordinance to grant early statehood) that would have prohibited slavery in all western lands, including the Southwest. When the antislavery provision failed by one vote, Jefferson famously lamented that ''the fate of millions unborn'' hung ''on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment.'' In the mid-1780s, Jefferson, like many of the Founding Fathers, was in the flush of revolutionary rhetoric about equality and liberty, and whatever antislavery impulses he had ever felt were at their most intense. The expansion of slavery caused heated division for a variety of reasons. For some it was a matter of moralityslavery was wrong and therefore should be limited as a first step toward abolition; others saw it as an economic matter, part of the competition for good land and resources; many Northern whites wanted to restrict slavery in the hope of creating an ''all-white'' society in the West. All of these factors, and others, helped to energize Northerners and Southerners and made the question of slavery expansion an expl
Praise for ''Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: ''Well researched and carefully crafted.'' --''Georgia Historical Quarterly ''An excellent book.'' --''The North Carolina Historical Review
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