Slavery, Capitalism and Politics in the Antebellum Republic

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-01-07
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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This book asks why the United States experienced a civil war in 1861 and analyses the descent into war in the final decade of peace. The book systematically surveys southern extremists, Republicans, Democrats, Whigs, temperance advocates and Know Nothings. It advances a new and unique explanation of the origins of the Civil War, the most important event in the history of the most powerful country in the world.

Author Biography

John Ashworthis currently Professor of American History in the School of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Explaining the Civil War (1)p. 1
Slavery versus Antislavery
Combating the weaknesses of slavery: Southern militants, 1850-1861p. 13
Introduction: The weaknesses of slaveryp. 13
The Compromise of 1850 and its legacyp. 17
Triumph of the southern Democrats: The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854p. 45
Crisis in Kansas, 1854-1858p. 63
The weaknesses of slavery (1): Free blacksp. 76
The weaknesses of slavery (2): Nonslaveholding whitesp. 82
The weaknesses of slavery (3): Slavesp. 96
The southern economyp. 104
Crisis in the Democratic party and in the nation, 1857-1860p. 111
Secession and war: 1860-1861p. 128
Conclusionp. 167
The antislavery challenge: The Republicans, 1854-1861p. 173
Introduction: The Republican partyp. 173
Democratic antecedentsp. 176
Whig antecedentsp. 205
Slavery and moralityp. 234
Republicans and the Slave Powerp. 244
Republicans and capitalismp. 265
Secession and war, 1860-1861p. 303
Conclusionp. 329
Polarisation and Collapse
The disintegration of Democratic hegemony: Northern Democrats and their southern allies, 1850-1861p. 339
Introduction: The Kansas-Nebraska Act (1)p. 339
Democracy, the nation, and the Democratic partyp. 344
A constricted universalism: Race and ethnicityp. 354
State's rights and limited governmentp. 369
Territorial expansion: Extending the area of freedom (and slavery)p. 384
Slavery and antislaveryp. 399
The Kansas-Nebraska Act (2): Popular sovereigntyp. 417
Democrats and the economyp. 436
Secession and war, 1860-1861p. 457
Conclusionp. 466
Political realignment: Collapse of the Whigs and neo-Whigs, 1848-1861p. 471
Introduction: Whiggery, neo-Whiggery and their discontentsp. 471
The Whigs, 1848-1852p. 476
Temperancep. 494
Nativism: The Know Nothingsp. 515
Collapse of the Whigs and the Know Nothings, 1852-1856p. 544
Realignment completed, 1857-1860p. 579
The Constitutional Union partyp. 592
Secession and war, 1860-1861p. 606
Conclusionp. 624
Conclusion: Explaining the Civil War (2)p. 628
A review of some major works on the reasons for Confederate defeatp. 651
Indexp. 673
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