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This post concludes a series exploring Causes of the Civil War.

A review of the literature reveals – not surprisingly – a lack of agreement over whether the American Civil War was inevitable. Given the fact that it did occur, the question under consideration might be better stated [...]

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This post continues a series on exploring Causes of the Civil War.
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Civil War scholar Gabor Boritt posits a fascinating theory that the impact of an individual can, in fact, be more influential in the determination of history’s direction than [...]

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Political discord represents yet another candidate for the war’s cause. Late historian William E. Gienapp (pictured right) suggests that “however much social and economic developments fueled the sectional conflict, the coming of the Civil War must be explained ultimately in political terms, for the outbreak of war in April 1861 represented the complete breakdown of the American political system. As such, the Civil War constituted the greatest single failure of American democracy.”[i]

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This post continues the series Causes of the Civil War.
Historian Gabor S. Boritt asserts that the American Constitution’s “fundamental ambiguity” on a number of matters involving slavery contributed to the Constitutionsectional controversy that stimulated the growing conflict between the North and the South.[i]

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Continuing the series on the causes of the American Civil War, this post looks at the Antebellum North. The North evolved from its Puritan roots into a culture driven by a strong work ethic. A man was valued by what he could earn and accomplish. The capital of the north was invested in the engines [...]

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The good folks at Oxford University Press recently sent me a copy of the new paperback edition of James McPherson’s This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War.

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The potential for violence after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and indeed episodes of violence, increased on the border between Missouri and Kansas as both Free Soiler and pro-slavery factions began actively arming themselves. An agent of the New England Emigrant Aid Society in Kansas, Continue Reading

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Thanks to everyone that has participated in the Compromise of 1850 Poll going on here. If you haven’t voted, please do!

To expand the discussion, let me share my perspective on the question I raised, whether Continue Reading

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Few would argue that a resurgence of nativism in the mid-19th century had a rational footing. It was, rather, “a nonrational response to contemporary problems” in “an age of social upheaval, an age of deprivation, stress, and imminent disaster.”

The nation was not facing civil war because of immigration from Ireland and Germany. The dislocations [...]

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Historian James McPherson points out that the membership in the Know Nothings was “drawn primarily from young men in white-collar and skilled blue-collar occupations. A good many of them were new voters. One analysis showed that men in their twenties were twice as likely to vote Know Nothing as men over thirty.”  (1)

Their leaders [...]

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Many words lose their relevance and thus usage over time. Fortunately, slavemongering, is among them.

A monger is defined as a dealer or trader. To monger is to promote or deal in something specified. It is generally used in a composition. Thus a costermonger is an itinerant fruit-seller, a fellmonger is a dealer in skins, [...]

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On Slavery – 5 Escaping

On November 15, 2008 By
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Historian Kenneth Stampp makes an interesting point about differing locations of slaves determining the destination of escapees. Those living near Indians might, for example, seek refuge with local tribes, as was the case in Florida.

“…Florida slaves escaped to the Seminole Indians, aided them [...]

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On Slavery – 4

On November 14, 2008 By
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The experience of slaves could vary by region due in large part to the type of product the slave was engaged in bringing to market. Slaves in the hemp producing regions of Kentucky and Missouri, worked in rhythm with the cycles required by the crop. Similarly, slaves who worked in cotton producing areas (above) or [...]

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On Slavery – 3

On November 12, 2008 By
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[This post continues the series On Slavery (1 here).]

Kenneth Stampp in his book, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South, suggests that [...]

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On Slavery – 1

On November 9, 2008 By
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I’m reading Kenneth M. Stampp’s fascinating book, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South for class. A focus this week and next is, among other things, the ways in which slave owners controlled their bondsmen. The methods varied considerably as did the ethical sensibilities of the masters [...]

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