The Road to Disunion: Volume I: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA, 1990 - History - 656 pages
Far from a monolithic block of diehard slave states, the South in the eight decades before the Civil War was, in William Freehling's words, "a world so lushly various as to be a storyteller's dream." It was a world where Deep South cotton planters clashed with South Carolina rice growers, where the egalitarian spirit sweeping the North seeped down through border states already uncertain about slavery, where even sections of the same state (for instance, coastal and mountain Virginia) divided bitterly on key issues. It was the world of Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson, and also of Gullah Jack, Nat Turner, and Frederick Douglass.
Now, in the first volume of his long awaited, monumental study of the South's road to disunion, historian William Freehling offers a sweeping political and social history of the antebellum South from 1776 to 1854. All the dramatic events leading to secession are here: the Missouri Compromise, the Nullification Controversy, the Gag Rule ("the Pearl Harbor of the slavery controversy"), the Annexation of Texas, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Freehling vividly recounts each crisis, illuminating complex issues and sketching colorful portraits of major figures. Along the way, he reveals the surprising extent to which slavery influenced national politics before 1850, and he provides important reinterpretations of American republicanism, Jeffersonian states' rights, Jacksonian democracy, and the causes of the American Civil War.
But for all Freehling's brilliant insight into American antebellum politics, Secessionists at Bay is at bottom the saga of the rich social tapestry of the pre-war South. He takes us to old Charleston, Natchez, and Nashville, to the big house of a typical plantation, and we feel anew the tensions between the slaveowner and his family, the poor whites and the planters, the established South and the newer South, and especially between the slave and his master, "Cuffee" and "Massa." Freehling brings the Old South back to life in all its color, cruelty, and diversity. It is a memorable portrait, certain to be a key analysis of this crucial era in American history.
 

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User Review  - TLCrawford - LibraryThing

William Freehling’s “The road to disunion: Secessionists triumphant 1854-1861” is volume II of his examination southern secessionist politics. Today’s “common sense” leads us to believe that the south ... Read full review

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User Review  - wildbill - LibraryThing

I consider this a well written book that deals with an issue of American politics in a new way. The author looks in unusual places for significant factors in the growth of succession. He certainly ... Read full review

Contents

The Spirit of Montgomery
3
A SWING AROUND THE SOUTHERN CIRCLE
9
St Louis to New Orleans
13
New Orleans to Charleston to Baltimore to St Louis
25
SOCIAL CONTROL IN A DESPOTS DEMOCRACY
37
Mastering Consenting White Folk
39
The Domestic Charade I Massas Act
59
The Domestic Charade II Cuffees Act
77
The Gag Rule I Mr Hammonds Mysterious Motion
308
The Gag Rule II Mr Pinckneys Controversial Compromise
322
The Gag Rule III Mr Johnsons Ironic Intransigence
337
THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS
353
AntiAnnexation as Manifest Destiny
355
An Extremists Zany Pilgrimage
372
The Administrations Decision
388
Southern Democrats Decision
402

Democrats as Lynchers
98
CONDITIONAL TERMINATION IN THE EARLY UPPER SOUTH
119
Conditional Termination in the Early Republic
121
The Missouri Controversy
144
Class Revolt in Virginia I AntiEgalitarianism Attacked
162
Class Revolt in Virginia II Slavery Besieged
178
NotSoConditional Termination in the Northern Chesapeake
197
NONDECISIVE DECISION IN SOUTH CAROLINA
211
Origins of South Carolina Eccentricity I Economic and Political Foundations
213
Origins of South Carolina Eccentricity II Cultural Foundations
229
The First Confrontation Crisis I Calhoun versus Jackson
253
The First Confrontation Crisis II South Carolina versus the South
271
THE GAG RULE AND THE POLITICS OF MERE WORDS
287
The Reorganization of Southern Politics
289
The Electorates Decision
426
The Congressional Decision
440
CRISIS AT MIDCENTURY
453
Loaded Words Loathsome Collaborations
455
Southern Convention Without a South
475
The Armistice of 18501
487
The Paralysis of the Old Order
511
The KansasNebraska Act I Confrontation in Missouri
536
The KansasNebraska Act II Decision in Congress
550
Abbreviations Used in Notes
567
Notes
569
Index
627
Copyright

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About the author (1990)


William Freehling is Singletary PRofessor of the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. His first book, Prelude to Civil War, won both an Allan Nevins and a Bancroft Prize and is recognized as one of the most significant studies of the Civil War era published in the past three decades.

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