Year of Meteors Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 9/28/2010
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press

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In early 1860, pundits across America confidently predicted the election of Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas in the coming presidential race. Douglas, after all, led the only party that bridged North and South. But the Democrats would split over the issue ofslavery, leading Southerners in the party to run their own presidential slate. This opened the door for the upstart Republicans, exclusively Northern, to steal the Oval Office. Dark horse Abraham Lincoln, not the first choice even of his own party, won the presidency with a record-low 39.8 percent of the popular vote.Acclaimed scholar Douglas R. Egerton chronicles the contest with a historian's keen insight and a veteran political reporter's eye for detail. Vividly, Egerton re-creates the cascade of unforeseen events that confounded political bosses, set North and South on the road to disunion, and put not Stephen Douglas, but his greatest rival, in the White House.We see Lincoln and his team outmaneuvering more prominent Republicans, like New York's grandiose William Seward, while Democratic conventions collapse in confusion. And we see the gifted, flawed Douglas marking his finest hour in defeat, as he strives, and fails, to save the Union. Year of Meteors delivers a teeming cast of characters, minor and major, and a breakneck narrative of this most momentous year in American history.

Author Biography

Douglas R. Egerton is Professor of History at LeMoyne College. He is the author of five books, including He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey, Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 & 1802, and Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America.

Table of Contents

Prologue: "Let Us Press On": April-June, 1861p. 1
A Nation with Its "Hands Full": The Republic on the Eve of 1860p. 18
"Douglas or Nobody": The Democratsp. 51
Principles and the "Duty to Recognize" None: The Constitutional Union and Liberty Partiesp. 83
"Moving Heaven and Earth": The Republicansp. 110
"Beyond the Power of Surgery": The Democrats, Againp. 149
"Lincoln Is the Next President. I Will Go South": The Campaignsp. 176
"The Union Is Dissolved": The Lower South Secedesp. 215
"Others to Share the Burden": Two Governments Preparep. 248
"All Our Labor Is Lost": Compromise Committees and the Washington Peace Conferencep. 285
Epilogue: "To act the Part of a Patriot": March-April, 1861p. 317
Appendix: 1860 Election Scenarios and Possible Outcomesp. 335
Acknowledgmentsp. 339
Notesp. 343
Indexp. 387
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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