Far from a monolithic block of diehard slave states, the antebellum South was, in William Freehling's words, "a world so lushly various as to be a storyteller's dream." It was a world where Deep South cotton planters clashed with South Carolina rice growers, as Northern egalitarianisminfiltrated border states already bitterly divided on key issues. It was the world of Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson, and also of Gullah Jack, Nat Turner, and Frederick Douglass. Now, in the first volume of his long awaited, monumental study of the South's road to disunion, historian William Freehling offers a sweeping political and social history of the antebellum South from 1776 to 1854. All the dramatic events leading to secession are here: the Missouri Compromise,the Nullification Controversy, the Gag Rule, the Annexation of Texas, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Vivid accounts of each crisis reveal the surprising extent to which slavery influenced national politics before 1850 and provide important reinterpretations of Americanrepublicanism, Jeffersonian states' rights, Jacksonian democracy, and the causes of the American Civil War.
This major work of scholarship by the author of Prelude to the Civil War offers an intimate look at the Old South and describes how the slavery issue led to successive collisions between ``private despotism and public democracy.'' The book also provides a detailed account of how slavery functioned. Freehling's sweeping narrative traces national crises that led to secession: the Missiouri Compromise, the annexation of Texas, the Compromise Act of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Such figures as Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln stride vigorously through these pages. The study, which contributes importantly to our understanding of the causes of the Civil War, will interest readers with its brilliant evocation of the antebellum South. Illustrations. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
December 04, 1991
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