Causes of the Civil War – 7: Political Discord, Slavery, and the Fight for Political Control
Slave sale poster

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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The Sacking of Lawrence, May 21, 1856 – 1

One of the most surprising things I learned from reading Michael F. Holt’s exceptional book, The Political Crisis of the 1850’s, was that the “Sacking of Lawrence” was not the murderous affair I had always thought it was. It led to further research on my part and the realization that I was guilty of combining […]

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The Compromise of 1850: Effective Political Action or Forecast of Disaster?

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 The Compromise of 1850 was an effective political action or a forecast of disaster. Michael F. Holt makes an […]

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New Additions: Writing the Civil War and New Shelves at WigWags Books

My copy of Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand arrived this week. Thanks to Daniel Sauerwein, a fellow WordPress blogger over at Civil War History for the recommendation. Published by the good folks at University of South Carolina Press, it is edited by James M. McPherson and William J. Cooper, Jr. Contributors include: […]

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On Free Soilers – 1

David M. Potter describes “Free Soilers” as “antislavery dissenters within both old parties.”(1) Michael F. Holt provides an excellent profile of the Northerners who made up the “Free Soil” Party in his description of the delegates, both elected and self-appointed, who attended the first convention of the party in Buffalo. “Uniformly zealous, they were a […]

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