Book picks similar to
West of Slavery: The Southern Dream of a Transcontinental Empire by Kevin Waite
Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
James Oakes - 2012
It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims—"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"—were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war.By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and without slaveholder compensation, as they fled to Union lines in the disloyal South. In the loyal Border States the Republicans tried coaxing officials into gradual abolition with promises of compensation and the colonization abroad of freed blacks. James Oakes shows that Lincoln’s landmark 1863 proclamation marked neither the beginning nor the end of emancipation: it triggered a more aggressive phase of military emancipation, sending Union soldiers onto plantations to entice slaves away and enlist the men in the army. But slavery proved deeply entrenched, with slaveholders determined to re-enslave freedmen left behind the shifting Union lines. Lincoln feared that the war could end in Union victory with slavery still intact. The Thirteenth Amendment that so succinctly abolished slavery was no formality: it was the final act in a saga of immense war, social upheaval, and determined political leadership.Fresh and compelling, this magisterial history offers a new understanding of the death of slavery and the rebirth of a nation.8 pages illustrations
The Best of American Heritage: The Civil War
Edwin S. Grosvenor - 2015
The Civil War posed a critical test of the young nation's character, endurance, and will to survive. Coming only two generations after the nation's founding, the secession of Southern states challenged the very existence of the United States. "America's most monumental drama and morality tale" comes alive in this brilliant collection from America's leading history magazine, as selected by its current editor-in-chief, Edwin S. Grosvenor.
The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861
David Morris Potter - 1976
Potter’s magisterial The Impending Crisis is the single best account to date of the coming of the Civil War.” —Civil War History“The magnum opus of a great American historian.” —NewsweekNow in a new edition for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, David Potter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning history of antebellum America offers an indispensible analysis of the causes of the war between the states. The Journal of Southern History calls Potter’s incisive account, “modern scholarship’s most comprehensive account of the coming of the Civil War,” and the New York Times Book Review hails it as “profound and original…. History in the grand tradition.”
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877
Eric Foner - 1988
It redefined how Reconstruction was viewed by historians and people everywhere in its chronicling of how Americans -- black and white -- responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. This "smart book of enormous strengths" (Boston Globe) has since gone on to become the classic work on the wrenching post-Civil War period -- an era whose legacy reverberates still today in the United States.
How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America
Heather Cox Richardson - 2020
The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades been pushing into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The South and West equally depended on extractive industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise a new birth of white male oligarchy, despite the guarantees provided by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the economic opportunities afforded by expansion.To reveal why this happened, How the South Won the Civil War traces the story of the American paradox, the competing claims of equality and subordination woven into the nation's fabric and identity. At the nation's founding, it was the Eastern "yeoman farmer" who galvanized and symbolized the American Revolution. After the Civil War, that mantle was assumed by the Western cowboy, singlehandedly defending his land against barbarians and savages as well as from a rapacious government. New states entered the Union in the late nineteenth century and western and southern leaders found yet more common ground. As resources and people streamed into the West during the New Deal and World War II, the region's influence grew. "Movement Conservatives," led by westerners Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, claimed to embody cowboy individualism and worked with Dixiecrats to embrace the ideology of the Confederacy.Richardson's searing book seizes upon the soul of the country and its ongoing struggle to provide equal opportunity to all. Debunking the myth that the Civil War released the nation from the grip of oligarchy, expunging the sins of the Founding, it reveals how and why the Old South not only survived in the West, but thrived.
Lies My Teacher Told Me: The True History of the War for Southern Independence
Clyde N. Wilson - 2016
The entire South—its people, culture, history, customs, both past and present—has been and continues to be lied about and demonized by the unholy trinity of the American establishment: Academia, Hollywood, and the Media. In the midst of the anti-South hysteria currently infecting the American psyche—the banning of flags, charges of hate and “racism,” the removal and attempted removal of Confederate monuments, the renaming of schools, vandalism of monuments and property displaying the Confederate Battle Flag, and even physical assaults, albeit rarely at present, on people who display the symbols of the South — Shotwell Publishing offers this unapologetic, unreconstructed, pro-South book with the hope that it will reach those who are left that are not afraid to question the sanity of this cultural purge and the veracity of its narrative concerning the South.
The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
H.W. Brands - 2012
W. Brands, a masterful biography of the Civil War general and two-term president who saved the Union twice, on the battlefield and in the White House, holding the country together at two critical turning points in our history.Ulysses Grant rose from obscurity to discover he had a genius for battle, and he propelled the Union to victory in the Civil War. After Abraham Lincoln's assassination and the disastrous brief presidency of Andrew Johnson, America turned to Grant again to unite the country, this time as president. In Brands's sweeping, majestic full biography, Grant emerges as a heroic figure who was fearlessly on the side of right. He was a beloved commander in the field but willing to make the troop sacrifices necessary to win the war, even in the face of storms of criticism. He worked valiantly to protect the rights of freedmen in the South; Brands calls him the last presidential defender of black civil rights for nearly a century. He played it straight with the American Indians, allowing them to shape their own fate even as the realities of Manifest Destiny meant the end of their way of life. He was an enormously popular president whose memoirs were a huge bestseller; yet within decades of his death his reputation was in tatters, the victim of Southerners who resented his policies on Reconstruction. In this page-turning biography, Brands now reconsiders Grant's legacy and provides a compelling and intimate portrait of a man who saved the Union on the battlefield and consolidated that victory as a resolute and principled political leader.
Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War
T.J. Stiles - 2002
J. Stiles offers a new understanding of the legendary outlaw Jesse James. Although he has often been portrayed as a Robin Hood of the old west, in this ground-breaking work Stiles places James within the context of the bloody conflicts of the Civil War to reveal a much more complicated and significant figure. Raised in a fiercely pro-slavery household in bitterly divided Misssouri, at age sixteen James became a bushwhacker, one of the savage Confederate guerrillas that terrorized the border states. After the end of the war, James continued his campaign of robbery and murder into the brutal era of reconstruction, when his reckless daring, his partisan pronouncements, and his alliance with the sympathetic editor John Newman Edwards placed him squarely at the forefront of the former Confederates’ bid to recapture political power. With meticulous research and vivid accounts of the dramatic adventures of the famous gunman, T. J. Stiles shows how he resembles not the apolitical hero of legend, but rather a figure ready to use violence to command attention for a political cause—in many ways, a forerunner of the modern terrorist.
Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency
John C. Waugh - 1998
Drawing from primary sources, reminiscences, memoirs, autobiographies, letters, newspaper, and periodicals, he clearly evokes the drama of a political reporter covering a national presidential campaign today. Photo insert.
The Civil War, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville
Shelby Foote - 1958
1 begins one of the most remarkable works of history ever fashioned. All the great battles are here, of course, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, and Antietam, but so are the smaller ones: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island Ten, New Orleans, and Monitor versus Merrimac. The word "narrative" is the key to this extraordinary book's incandescence and its truth. The story is told entirely from the point of view of the people involved in it. One learns not only what was happening on all fronts but also how the author discovered it during his years of exhaustive research. This first volume in Shelby Foote's comprehensive history is a must-listen for anyone interested in one of the bloodiest wars in America's history.
The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation
Brenda Wineapple - 2019
Congress was divided over how the Union should be reunited: when and how the secessionist South should regain full status, whether former Confederates should be punished, and when and whether black men should be given the vote. Devastated by war and resorting to violence, many white Southerners hoped to restore a pre-Civil War society, just without slavery, and the pugnacious Andrew Johnson, who was no Lincoln, seemed to share their goals. With the unchecked power of executive orders, Johnson ignored Congress, pardoned rebel leaders, promoted white supremacy, opposed civil rights, and called Reconstruction unnecessary. Congress had to stop the American president who acted like a king.With her extensive research and profound insights, Brenda Wineapple dramatically restores this pivotal period in American history, when the country, on the heels of a brutal war, was rocked by the first-ever impeachment of a sitting American president. And she brings to vivid life the extraordinary characters who brought that impeachment forward: the willful Johnson and his retinue of advocates--including complicated men like Secretary of State William Seward--as well as the equally complicated visionaries committed to justice and equality for all, like Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant. Theirs was a last-ditch, patriotic, and Constitutional effort to render the goals of the Civil War into reality and to make the Union free, fair, and whole.
The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War
Joanne B. Freeman - 2018
Freeman offers a new and dramatically rendered portrait of American politics in its rowdiest years. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that today's hyperpolarized environment cannot compare with the turbulent atmosphere of the decades before the Civil War, when the U.S. Congress itself was rife with conflict. Legislative sessions were routinely punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slug-fests. Congressmen drew pistols and waved bowie knives at rivals. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance or silence, particularly on the issue of slavery. These fights didn't happen in a vacuum. Freeman's accounts of fistfights and threats tell a larger story of how bullying, brawling, and the press - and the powerful emotions they elicited - raised tensions between North and South and fueled the coming of the war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities - the feel, sense, and sound of it - as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and rivetingly told, The Field of Blood offers a front-row view of congressional mayhem and sheds new light on the careers of luminaries such as John Quincy Adams and Thomas Hart Benton, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating characters. We see slaveholders silence Northerners with threats and violence. We learn how newspapers promoted conspiracy theories that helped polarize the nation. And we witness an entire legislative chamber erupt into a massive fist-throwing, spittoon-tossing battle royal. By 1860, armed congressmen, some carrying pistols sent by their constituents, fully expected bloody combat in the House. In effect, the first battles of the Civil War were fought in Congress itself. The Field of Blood demonstrates how a country can come apart as conflicts over personal honor, party loyalty, and moral principle combine and escalate. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril.
Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North
Jennifer L. Weber - 2006
Fierce political debates set communities on edge, spurred secret plots against the Union, and triggered widespread violence. At the heart of all this turmoil stood the anti-war Democrats, nicknamed Copperheads.Now, Jennifer L. Weber offers the first full-length portrait of this powerful faction to appear in almost half a century. Weber reveals how the Copperheads came perilously close to defeating Lincoln and ending the war in the South's favor. Indeed, by the summer of 1864, they had grown so strong that Lincoln himself thought his defeat was exceedingly likely. Passionate defenders of civil liberties and states' rights--and often virulent racists--the Copperheads deplored Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, his liberal interpretation of the Constitution, and, most vehemently, his moves toward emancipation. Weber reveals how the battle over these issues grew so heated that Northerners feared their neighbors would destroy their livestock, burn their homes, even kill them. And she illuminates the role of Union soldiers, who, furious at Copperhead attacks on the war effort, moved firmly behind Lincoln. The soldiers' support for the embattled president kept him alive politically in his darkest times, and their victories on the battlefield secured his re-election.Packed with sharp observation and fresh interpretations, Copperheads is a gripping account of the fierce dissent that Lincoln called the fire in the rear.
The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South
Bruce Levine - 2013
Told through the words of the people who lived it, The Fall of the House of Dixie illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first. In 1860 the American South was a vast, wealthy, imposing region where a small minority had amassed great political power and enormous fortunes through a system of forced labor. The South’s large population of slaveless whites almost universally supported the basic interests of plantation owners, despite the huge wealth gap that separated them. By the end of 1865 these structures of wealth and power had been shattered. Millions of black people had gained their freedom, many poorer whites had ceased following their wealthy neighbors, and plantation owners were brought to their knees, losing not only their slaves but their political power, their worldview, their very way of life. This sea change was felt nationwide, as the balance of power in Congress, the judiciary, and the presidency shifted dramatically and lastingly toward the North, and the country embarked on a course toward equal rights. Levine captures the many-sided human drama of this story using a huge trove of diaries, letters, newspaper articles, government documents, and more. In The Fall of the House of Dixie, the true stakes of the Civil War become clearer than ever before, as slaves battle for their freedom in the face of brutal reprisals; Abraham Lincoln and his party turn what began as a limited war for the Union into a crusade against slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation; poor southern whites grow increasingly disillusioned with fighting what they have come to see as the plantation owners’ war; and the slave owners grow ever more desperate as their beloved social order is destroyed, not just by the Union Army, but also from within. When the smoke clears, not only Dixie but all of American society is changed forever. Brilliantly argued and engrossing, The Fall of the House of Dixie is a sweeping account of the destruction of the old South during the Civil War, offering a fresh perspective on the most colossal struggle in our history and the new world it brought into being.Praise for The Fall of the House of Dixie “This is the Civil War as it is seldom seen. . . . A portrait of a country in transition . . . as vivid as any that has been written.”—The Boston Globe “An absorbing social history . . . For readers whose Civil War bibliography runs to standard works by Bruce Catton and James McPherson, [Bruce] Levine’s book offers fresh insights.”—The Wall Street Journal “More poignantly than any book before, The Fall of the House of Dixie shows how deeply intertwined the Confederacy was with slavery, and how the destruction of both made possible a ‘second American revolution’ as far-reaching as the first.”—David W. Blight, author of American Oracle “Splendidly colorful . . . Levine recounts this tale of Southern institutional rot with the ease and authority born of decades of study.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) “A deep, rich, and complex analysis of the period surrounding and including the American Civil War.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)