The Great Heart of the Republic
In the battles to determine the destiny of the United States in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, St. Louis, then at the hinge between North, South, and West, was ideally placed to bring these sections together. At least, this was the hope of a coterie of influential St. Louisans. But their visions of re-orienting the nation's politics with Westerners at the top and St. Louis as a cultural, commercial, and national capital crashed as the country was tom apart by convulsions over slavery, emancipation, and Manifest Destiny. While standard accounts frame the coming of the Civil War as strictly a conflict between the North and the South who were competing to expand their way of life, Arenson shifts the focus to the distinctive culture and politics of the American West, recovering the region’s importance for understanding the Civil War and examining the vision of western advocates themselves, and the importance of their distinct agenda for shaping the political, economic, and cultural future of the nation.
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