At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era)

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9780807833926: At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era)
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Why did eleven slave states secede from the Union in 1860-61? Why did the eighteen free states loyal to the Union deny the legitimacy of secession, and take concrete steps after Fort Sumter to subdue what President Abraham Lincoln deemed treasonous rebellion?

At the Precipice seeks to answer these and related questions by focusing on the different ways in which Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the late antebellum years. Rather than give a narrative account of the crisis, Shearer Davis Bowman takes readers into the minds of the leading actors, examining the lives and thoughts of such key figures as Abraham Lincoln, James Buchanan, Jefferson Davis, John Tyler, and Martin Van Buren. Bowman also provides an especially vivid glimpse into what less famous men and women in both sections thought about themselves and the political, social, and cultural worlds in which they lived, and how their thoughts informed their actions in the secession period. Intriguingly, secessionists and Unionists alike glorified the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, yet they interpreted those sacred documents in markedly different ways and held very different notions of what constituted "American" values.

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"Bowman examines the dissolution of the Union--surely the most important crisis in American history--from a variety of angles and perspectives. This is a very original, even arresting account that makes us rethink how we should consider secession and the breakup of the American republic. It is required reading for students of the Civil War crisis."--William A. Link, author of Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia

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Bowman explores the different ways in which Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the secession period. He examines the lives and thoughts of key figures and provides an especially vivid glimpse into what less famous men and women in both sections thought about themselves and the worlds in which they lived, and how their thoughts informed their actions during this time. Both sides glorified the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, yet they interpreted those sacred documents in markedly different ways and held very different notions of what constituted "American" values.

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9781469621364: At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era)

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ISBN 10:  1469621363 ISBN 13:  9781469621364
Publisher: The University of North Carolina..., 2014
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