Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Apr 7, 2009 - History - 816 pages
1 Review

"And then there came a day of fire!" From its shocking curtain-raiser—the conflagration that consumed Lower Manhattan in 1835—to the climactic centennial year of 1876, when Americans staged a corrupt, deadlocked presidential campaign (fought out in Florida), Walter A. McDougall's Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877 throws off sparks like a flywheel. This eagerly awaited sequel to Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History, 1585-1828 carries the saga of the American people's continuous self-reinvention from the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson through the eras of Manifest Destiny, Civil War, and Reconstruction, America's first failed crusade to put "freedom on the march" through regime change and nation building.

But Throes of Democracy is much more than a political history. Here, for the first time, is the American epic as lived by Germans and Irish, Catholics and Jews, as well as people of British Protestant and African American stock; an epic defined as much by folks in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Texas as by those in Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia; an epic in which Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, showman P. T. Barnum, and circus clown Dan Rice figure as prominently as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Henry Ward Beecher; an epic in which railroad management and land speculation prove as gripping as Indian wars. Walter A. McDougall's zesty, irreverent narrative says something new, shrewd, ironic, or funny about almost everything as it reveals our national penchant for pretense—a predilection that explains both the periodic throes of democracy and the perennial resilience of the United States.


What people are saying - Write a review

THROES OF DEMOCRACY: The American Civil War Era, 1820-1877

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A broad-ranging portrait of America in a time of torment, continuing Pulitzer Prize winner McDougall's (History/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828 ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nbmars - LibraryThing

McDougall traces several themes through his history of America from 1829-1877 (a follow-up volume to his preceding book “Freedom Just Around the Corner” which covered 1585-1828). These include: 1 ... Read full review


Old Hickory Indians Bankers and Whigs
Migrants Farmers Mechanics and Clowns
Romantic Revelators Reformers and Writers
FortyNiners Filibusters FreeSoilers
Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Radicals Klansmen Barons and Bosses
The United States in 1830 18
Settlements in Texas 18191837 81
Shenandoah Valley 18611865 440
Civil War 1863 467
The Process of Reconstruction 530

TruthTellers? Gimlet Eyes on a Republic of Pretense

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

A professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, Walter A. McDougall is the author of many books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heavens and the Earth and Let the Sea Make a Noise. . . . He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two teenage children.

Bibliographic information