These essays demonstrate that support for a more aggressive battle against slavery had been growing for a number of decades before finding broad support among abolitionists in the 1850s. Ultimately the political and more militant wings of abolitionism converged after the start of the Civil War, when abolitionists worked to prod Abraham Lincoln into enlisting blacks in the Union army and adopting emancipation as one of the North's war goals.
This book explains how the Battle of Antietam—a conflict that changed nothing militarily—still played a pivotal role in the Civil War by affording Abraham Lincoln an opportunity to announce the emancipation of slaves in states in rebellion.
Sectional, Racial, and Cultural Conflict in Antebellum America
Author: John R. McKivigan
Publisher: Univ. of Tennessee Press
Historians present 10 essays on violent action in the US against the institution of slavery and its defenders during the 60 years before the Civil War. Their characters include southern slave rebels, antislavery women in Kansas, violent slave rescuers in Ohio, and northern anti-slavery politicians. They show how the violence helped unite black and white enemies of slavery and how antebellum concepts of gender played a role in justifying and participating in violence.
Most treatments of slavery, politics, and expansion in the early American republic focus narrowly on congressional debates and the inaction of elite "founding fathers" such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. In Slavery, Freedom, and Expansion in the Early American West, John Craig Hammond looks beyond elite leadership and examines how the demands of western settlers, the potential of western disunion, and local, popular politics determined the fate of slavery and freedom in the West between 1790 and 1820. By shifting focus away from high politics in Philadelphia and Washington, Hammond demonstrates that local political contests and geopolitical realities were more responsible for determining slavery’s fate in the West than were the clashing proslavery and antislavery proclivities of Founding Fathers and politicians in the East. When efforts to prohibit slavery revived in 1819 with the Missouri Controversy it was not because of a sudden awakening to the problem on the part of northern Republicans, but because the threat of western secession no longer seemed credible. Including detailed studies of popular political contests in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri that shed light on the western and popular character of conflicts over slavery, Hammond also provides a thorough analysis of the Missouri Controversy, revealing how the problem of slavery expansion shifted from a local and western problem to a sectional and national dilemma that would ultimately lead to disunion and civil war.
Lincoln is the single most compelling figure in our history, but also one of the most enigmatic. Was he the Great Emancipator, a man of deep convictions who ended slavery in the United States, or simply a reluctant politician compelled by the force of events to free the slaves? In Father Abraham, Richard Striner offers a fresh portrait of Lincoln, one that helps us make sense of his many contradictions. Striner shows first that, if you examine the speeches that Lincoln made in the 1850s, you will have no doubt of his passion to end slavery. These speeches illuminate the anger, vehemence, and sheer brilliance of candidate Lincoln, who worked up crowds with charismatic fervor as he gathered a national following. But if he felt so passionately about abolition, why did he wait so long to release the Emancipation Proclamation? As Striner points out, politics is the art of the possible, and Lincoln was a consummate politician, a shrewd manipulator who cloaked his visionary ethics in the more pragmatic garb of the coalition-builder. He was at bottom a Machiavellian prince for a democratic age. When secession began, Lincoln used the battle cry of saving the Union to build a power base, one that would eventually break the slave-holding states forever. Striner argues that Lincoln was a rare man indeed: a fervent idealist and a crafty politician with a remarkable gift for strategy. It was the harmonious blend of these two qualities, Striner concludes, that made Lincoln's role in ending slavery so fundamental.
Taking our understanding of political antislavery into largely unexplored terrain, Jonathan H. Earle counters conventional wisdom and standard historical interpretations that view the ascendance of free-soil ideas within the antislavery movement as an exp