At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis
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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1 Introduction and Overview
2 Slaveholders and Slaves States Rights and Revolution
Section Race and Gender
The Careers of John Bell John C Breckinridge Howell Cobb Stephen A Douglas John Tyler and Martin Van Buren
5 Jefferson Davis Horace L Kent and the Old South
6 Abraham Lincoln Henry Waller and the Free Labor North
Faith Race and Gender
abolitionist Abraham Lincoln African American American antebellum antislavery Baton Rouge became bondage Breckinridge Buchanan Buren Calhoun Chapel Hill chattel Chicago Christian citizens City Civil Compromise Confederacy Confederate Congress convention Cooper cotton County Davisís degradation Democratic disunion disunionist Douglas Douglass economic edited endorsed Fort Sumter Founding Fathers Frederick Douglass Freehling Fugitive Slave Georgia Godís Henry historian honor Illinois James Jefferson Davis John Kansas-Nebraska Act Kentucky labor liberty Lincolnís election Louisiana State University Mississippi NewYork North Carolina Press northern Ohio Old South Oxford University Press partyís peculiar institution plantation planters political president presidential proslavery racial railroad Republican Party Richmond seceded secession secession crisis secessionist sectional Seward Slave Power slaveholders slavery social Sojourner Truth South Carolina speech stateís rights Stephen Sumter territories Texas tion Tyler U.S. Constitution U.S. Senate Union Unionist United University of North Upper South Virginia vote Waller Whig white southerners William York