Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War (American Century Series)

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9780374523091: Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War (American Century Series)

Half Slave and Half Free is a powerful treatment of the basic issues and social transformations that precipitated the Civil War. In a succinct, persuasive narrative, Bruce Levine succeeds in showing how a popular basis for the Civil War developed out of the far-reaching and divisive changes in American life after the incomplete Revolution of 1776--changes that stemmed from the development of two very distinct social systems, one based on slavery, the other on free labor, which eventually made sectional differences within the framework of the Union irreconcilable.

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About the Author:

Bruce Levine, professor of American history at the University of Cincinnati, is the author of The Spirit of 1848: German Immigrants, Labor Conflict, and the Coming of the Civil War.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A concise and clear treatment of the diverse issues and social changes that precipitated the Civil War. Working largely with the results of recent scholarship on the antebellum period, Levine (American History/Univ. of Cincinnati; ed., Who Built America?, 1990) argues that the American Revolution occurred in two distinct stages. The first, liberation from Britain, came about only through a fragile alliance between separate social orders, one based on servile labor and the other on free labor--but the compromises between these systems (an integral part of the fabric of the Constitution), Levine tells us, failed to hold up as America expanded westward. The Civil War was the second stage, the result of friction that grew increasingly heated as other factors came into play. Changes in work life and cultural life in the North and South, Levine says, led to clearer class distinctions, sharpening the perceptions of laborers who toiled as free men and as slaves. Assessing the contribution to the debate from free blacks in both regions, from abolitionists and proslavery rabble-rousers, and especially from the hard-working German and Irish immigrants who had little use for plantation society, Levine sees the polarization in attitudes manifesting in specific political platforms, most notably in the rise of Republicanism in the 1850's as Whigs, Democrats, Know-Nothings, and other parties proved unequal to the task of curbing slavery. Intelligent, eminently readable sociopolitical history. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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