The Road to Disunion; Volume II: Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-10-01
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
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The Road to Disunion, Vol. II completes William W. Freehling's monumental study of how the South came to begin the Civil War. Perhaps, as William Freehling surmises, the war was inevitable, because the issue of slavery sharply divided the South from the rest of the nation in the 1850s.Certainly the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860 produced a political crisis that could have precipitated a war. Surprisingly, however, Freehling reveals that as a whole the South took a cautious approach after the election. Most Southerners were waiting to see what Lincoln would do -and especially if he was going to take any antagonistic measures against the South. As it turned out, it was extremists in the South - what Freehling terms the "fire-eaters" - that took over the Southern response immediately after the 1860 election. Ever since the 1830s, but increasingly in the 1850s, these extremists had advocated secession from the Union. Freehling providescompelling profiles of the leaders of this protest - many of them members of the elite in South Carolina, as well as figures such as William L. Yancey and Robert Bowell Rhett. Finally, after the 1860 election, their moment had arrived. Suddenly, what had once been essentially been a fringe movementcame to dominate Southern politics. First in South Carolina and Mississippi, but then throughout the lower South, secessionist views took told, and so began the Civil War.Freehling's narrative brilliantly describes how this tiny minority grabbed hold of the secessionist issue and drove the South to war, showing how a group of fortuitous events worked in their favor. The book is a major contribution to a history of the American South in the 19th Century and to thecoming of the Civil War. It is one of the first detailed accounts of how this small extreme faction led the South to begin the war.

Author Biography

William W. Freehling is one of the most distinguished American historians of the Civil War era. He is Singletary Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at the University of Kentucky and Senior Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. He is the author of Prelude to Civil War, which won a Bancroft Prize, The Road to Disunion, Volume I: Secessionists at Bay, and The South vs. the South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Yancey's Rage
Better Economic Times Generate Worse Democratic Dilemmas
Democracy and Despotism, 1776- 1854: Road, Volume I, Revisited
Economic Bonanza, 1850-1860
The Climactic Ideological Frustrations
James Henry Hammond and the Unsolvable Proslavery Puzzle
The Three Imperfect Solutions
The Puzzling Future and the Infuriating Scapegoats
The Climactic Political Frustrations
Bleeding Kansas and Bloody Summer
The Scattering of the Ex-Whigs
James Buchanan's Precarious Election
The President-Elect as the Dred Scotts' Judge
The Climactic Kansas Crisis
Caribbean Delusions
Reopening the African Slave Trade
Reenslaving Free Blacks
John Brown and Three Other Men Coincidentally Named John
John Brown and Violent Invasion
John G. Fee and Religious Invasion
John Underwood and Economic Invasion
John Clark and Political Invasion
The Election of 8601
Yancey's Lethal Abstraction
The Democracy's Charleston Convention
The Democracy's Baltimore Convention
Suspicious Southerners and Lincoln's Election
South Carolina Dares
The State's Rights Justification
The Motivation
The Tactics and Tacticians
The Triumph; Coda: Did the Coincidence Change History?
Lower South Landslide, Upper South Stalemate
Alexander Stephen's Fleeting Moment; Coda: Did Stephens's and Hammond's Personalities Change History?
Southwestern Separatists' Tactics and Messages
Compromise Rejected
Military Explosions
Snowball Rolling
Upper South Stalemate
Stalemate-and the south-shattered; Coda: How Did Slavery Cause the Civil War?
Abbreviations Used in Notes
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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