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

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

Paperback 392 Pages / Published: 15/05/2014
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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.

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 9781469621364
Number of pages: 392
Weight: 558 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 28 mm
Edition: New edition

There is a wealth of information and ideas in this book. . . . Intellectually challenging and thought-provoking. . . . [It] will expand your understanding of America entering the Civil War.--TOCWOC: A Civil War Blog

Takes the reader into the thinking of the leading actors.--The Courier

[Bowman] does . . . a fine job of nailing the basic beliefs of Americans on both sides of the sectional split. . . . [Bowman's] extensive research is apparent. Highly recommended.--Choice

[A] rewarding read that provides a detailed account of what a wide spectrum of individuals--some famous and others virtually unknown--believed was happening to their beloved republic in the final years before the war.--Civil War Times

This wide-ranging synthesis showcases the late Shearer Davis Bowman's command of antebellum history and his intellectual generosity." --The North Carolina Historical Review

An eminently worthy edition to scholarship on the Civil War.--Journal of Southern History

A compelling . . . addition to an underdeveloped field of history. . . . Worthy of reading for those interested in the American history of interracial relationships.--Arkansas Review

[A] work that will be invaluable for graduate students and scholars interested in antebellum sectionalism and the secession crisis.--Journal of American History

A book that is as both elegantly written and historically grounded as is At the Precipice will please specialists and inform lay readers alike.--The Historian

[Bowman has] enriched the voluminous historiography of the Civil War and its legacy.--Journal of the North Carolina Association of Historians

Bowman's last one that merits attention." --Georgia Historical Quarterly

Undergraduates in Civil War classes, together with the general reading public, will find this book a useful introduction to the affairs of the nation as it stood on the precipice of a massive, and tragic, civil war.--Arkansas Historical Quarterly

This work would serve admirably as a textbook. . . . Both academics and general readers will benefit from this study.--The Alabama Review

A valuable resource for those interested in the country's growing friction during the prewar years, especially students and general readers.--Southern Historian

Unconventional yet persuasive. . . . Readers . . . are likely to come away feeling both that the Civil War was largely inevitable and that the instinct of U.S. politics to find compromise solutions is so strong that only a conflict as stark as the one between slavery and human freedom could overcome it.--Foreign Affairs

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