NEW! Recommended Reading:Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America (Simon & Schuster) (February 5, 2008) (Hardcover) . Description: In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was known as a successful Illinois
lawyer who had achieved some prominence in state politics as a leader in the new Republican Party. Two years later, he was
elected president and was on his way to becoming the greatest chief executive in American history. What carried this one-term
congressman from obscurity to fame was the campaign he mounted for the United States Senate against the country's most formidable
politician, Stephen A. Douglas, in the summer and fall of 1858. Lincoln challenged Douglas
directly in one of his greatest speeches -- "A house divided against itself cannot stand" -- and confronted Douglas on the
questions of slavery and the inviolability of the Union in seven fierce debates. As this
brilliant narrative by the prize-winning Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo dramatizes, Lincoln would emerge a predominant national figure, the leader of his
party, the man who would bear the burden of the national confrontation. Continued below...
the great issue between Lincoln and Douglas was slavery. Douglas was the champion of "popular sovereignty," of letting states and territories decide
for themselves whether to legalize slavery. Lincoln drew a
moral line, arguing that slavery was a violation both of natural law and of the principles expressed in the Declaration of
Independence. No majority could ever make slavery right, he argued. Lincoln lost that Senate
race to Douglas, though he came close to toppling the "Little Giant," whom almost everyone
thought was unbeatable. Guelzo's Lincoln and Douglas brings alive their debates and this whole year of campaigns and underscores
their centrality in the greatest conflict in American history. The encounters between Lincoln and Douglas engage a key question
in American political life: What is democracy's purpose? Is it to satisfy the desires of the majority? Or is it to achieve
a just and moral public order? These were the real questions in 1858 that led to the Civil War. They remain questions for
Reading:Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States
Congress.Description: In the 1830s, slavery was so deeply entrenched that it could not even be discussed in Congress, which had enacted
a "gag rule" to ensure that anti-slavery petitions would be summarily rejected. This stirring book chronicles the parliamentary
battle to bring "the peculiar institution" into the national debate, a battle that some historians have called "the Pearl Harbor of the slavery controversy." The campaign to make slavery officially and respectably debatable
was waged by John Quincy Adams who spent nine years defying gags, accusations of treason, and assassination threats. In the
end he made his case through a combination of cunning and sheer endurance. Telling this story with a brilliant command of
detail, Arguing About Slavery endows history with majestic sweep, heroism, and moral weight.
Reading: CAUSES OF THE CIVIL WAR: The Political, Cultural, Economic and Territorial
Disputes Between the North and South. Description: While South Carolina's
preemptive strike on FortSumter and Lincoln's subsequent call to arms started the Civil War, South Carolina's
secession and Lincoln's military actions were simply the last
in a chain of events stretching as far back as 1619. Increasing moral conflicts and political debates over slavery-exacerbated
by the inequities inherent between an established agricultural society and a growing industrial one-led to a fierce sectionalism
which manifested itself through cultural, economic, political and territorial disputes. This historical study reduces sectionalism
to its most fundamental form, examining the underlying source of this antagonistic climate. From protective tariffs to the
expansionist agenda, it illustrates the ways in which the foremost issues of the time influenced relations between the North
and the South.
Reading:The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861
(Paperback), by David M. Potter. Review: Professor Potter treats an incredibly complicated and misinterpreted
time period with unparalleled objectivity and insight. Potter masterfully explains the climatic events that led to Southern
secession – a greatly divided nation – and the Civil War: the social, political and ideological conflicts;
culture; American expansionism, sectionalism and popular sovereignty; economic and tariff systems; and slavery. In other words, Potter places under the microscope the root causes and origins of the Civil War.
He conveys the subjects in easy to understand language to edify the reader's understanding (it's
not like reading some dry old history book).Delving beyond
surface meanings and interpretations, this book analyzes not only the history, but the historiography of the time period as
well. Continued below…
rejects the historian's tendency to review the period with all the benefits of hindsight. He simply traces the events, allowing
the reader a step-by-step walk through time, the various views, and contemplates the interpretations of contemporaries and
other historians. Potter then moves forward with his analysis. The Impending Crisis is the absolute gold-standard of historical
writing… This simply is the book by which, not only other antebellum era books, but all history books should be judged.
Reading:What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (Hardcover: 928 pages). Review: The
newest volume in the renowned Oxford History of the United States-- A brilliant portrait of an era that saw dramatic transformations
in American life The Oxford History of the United States
is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes two Pulitzer Prize winners, two New York
Times bestsellers, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. Now, in What Hath God Wrought, historian Daniel Walker
Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American
War, an era when the United States expanded
to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent. Continued below…
narrative portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American
empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information.
These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from
an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture.
In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. He examines
the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs--advocates of public
education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans--were the true prophets
of America's future. He reveals the power
of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and
other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion -- Manifest Destiny -- culminates
in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico
to gain California and Texas for the United States. By 1848, America had been transformed. What Hath God Wrought provides a monumental narrative
of this formative period in United States
Reading:A House Divided:
Sectionalism and Civil War, 1848-1865
(The American Moment). Reviews: "The best short treatment of the sectional conflict and Civil War
available... Sewell convincingly demonstrates that the conflict was a revolutionary experience that fundamentally transformed
the Republic and its people, and left a racial heritage that still confronts America
today. The result is a poignant discussion of the central tragedy of American history and its legacy for the nation." -- William
E. Gienapp, Georgia Historical Quarterly.
"A provocative starting point for discussion, further study, and independent assessment." -- William H. Pease, History. "Sewell's
style is fast moving and very readable... An excellent volume summarizing the stormy period prior to the war as well as a
look at the military and home fronts." -- Civil War Book Exchange and Collector's Newsletter. Continued below…
traditional, and brief narrative of the period from the end of the Mexican War to the conclusion of the Civil War... Shows
the value of traditional political history which is too often ignored in our rush to reconstruct the social texture of society."
-- Thomas D. Morris, Civil War History. "Tailored for adoption in college courses. Students will find that the author has
a keen eye for vivid quotations, giving his prose welcome immediacy." -- Daniel W. Crofts, Journal of Southern History.
Reading:Battle Cry of Freedom: The
Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States)
(Hardcover: 952 pages). Description: Published in 1988 to universal acclaim, this single-volume treatment
of the Civil War quickly became recognized as the new standard in its field. James
M. McPherson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this book, impressively combines a brisk writing style with
an admirable thoroughness. James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events
that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in Mexico to
the ending of another at Appomattox. Packed with drama and
analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War including the Dred Scott
decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. Continued below...
It flows into
a masterful chronicle of the war itself--the battles, the strategic maneuvering by each side, the politics, and the personalities.
Particularly notable are McPherson's new views on such matters as Manifest Destiny, Popular Sovereignty, Sectionalism, the
slavery expansion issue in the 1850s, the origins of the Republican Party, the causes of secession, internal dissent and anti-war
opposition in the North and the South, and the reasons for the Union's victory. The
book's title refers to the sentiments that informed both the Northern and Southern views of the conflict. The South seceded
in the name of that freedom of self-determination and self-government for which their fathers had fought in 1776, while the
North stood fast in defense of the Union founded by those fathers as the bulwark of American
liberty. Eventually, the North had to grapple with the underlying cause of the war, slavery, and adopt a policy of emancipation
as a second war aim. This "new birth of freedom," as Lincoln called it, constitutes the proudest
legacy of America's bloodiest conflict.
This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war
that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty. . Perhaps more than any other book, this one belongs on the bookshelf of every Civil War buff.
Recommended Viewing: The History of the United States of America (PBS, A&E, HISTORY CHANNEL)