Historical Dictionary of the Old South (Historical Dictionaries of U.S. Politics and Political Eras)

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9780810850743: Historical Dictionary of the Old South (Historical Dictionaries of U.S. Politics and Political Eras)
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Being considerably different from other regions of the country, most notably regarding its fervent practice of slavery, the land South of the Mason-Dixon line, because of slavery, enjoyed an exceptional prominence in politics, and after the invention of the cotton gin, a high degree of prosperity. However, also because of slavery, it was alienated from the rest of the nation, attempted to secede from the union, and was forced back in only after it lost the Civil War.

Numerous cross-referenced entries on prominent individuals, including Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Robert E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln, as well as others on policies of the time that have since slipped into oblivion are all covered in this book. Economic, social and religious backgrounds trace the seemingly inevitable path to secession, war and defeat. This reference also includes an introductory essay, a chronology and a bibliography of the epoch.

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About the Author:

William L. Richter is a retired businessman turned historian, who has written a half dozen books and over two dozen scholarly articles and book reviews emphasizing the Antebellum South, the Civil War and Reconstruction. He is the author of Historical Dictionary of the Civil War and Reconstruction (Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2004).

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As a region, the American South has held on to its unique identity. The Historical Dictionary of the Old South, part of the publisher's Historical Dictionaries of U.S. Historical Eras series, puts in one volume many of the features that make the South different from other parts of the country.

The dictionary begins with a chronology, 1781-1865. The introduction explains the work's mainly political focus. A concluding "Select Bibliography" is arranged in chronological order, and appendixes provide a list of government officials, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, and the Constitution of the United States, 1860.

The entries vary in length from one paragraph to several pages and focus mainly on politics and economics. Many, such as Slave catchers and Slaves, care and maintenance of, cover the South's Peculiar institution. One of the most important entries is Slave power conspiracy, which explains in detail the reasons the North feared the power and spread of slavery in the West. The entry on Slavery, profitability of takes issue with the idea that slavery was declining prior to the Civil War. Some of the most interesting entries cover prominent people of the time period--all the U.S. presidents as well as other leading political figures, such as Henry Clay and John Randolph. The entry on Sally Hemmings reflects the difficulty many historians have with proving or disproving the so-called love affair between Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson.

Though it covers a slightly different time period (1810-1860), Encyclopedia of the Antebellum South (Greenwood, 2000) would make a good companion volume because it contains much more social history. Historical Dictionary of the Old South is a solidly researched and written work, recommended for public and undergraduate collections where the Old South is a high-demand subject. Abbie Vestal Landry
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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