The previously untold story of the violence in Congress that helped spark the Civil War
In The Field of Blood, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. When debate broke down, congressmen drew pistols and waved Bowie knives. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were beaten and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery.
These fights didn't happen in a vacuum. Freeman's dramatic accounts of brawls and thrashings tell a larger story of how fisticuffs and journalism, and the powerful emotions they elicited, raised tensions between North and South and led toward war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities--the feel, sense, and sound of it--as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and rivetingly told, The Field of Blood offers a front-row view of congressional mayhem and sheds new light on the careers of John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and other luminaries, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating men. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril.
National BestsellerIn this, the first major single-volume biography of Andrew Jackson in decades, H.W. Brands reshapes our understanding of this fascinating man, and of the Age of Democracy that he ushered in.
An orphan at a young age and without formal education or the family lineage of the Founding Fathers, Jackson showed that the presidency was not the exclusive province of the wealthy and the well-born but could truly be held by a man of the people. On a majestic, sweeping scale Brands re-creates Jackson's rise from his hardscrabble roots to his days as frontier lawyer, then on to his heroic victory in the Battle of New Orleans, and finally to the White House. Capturing Jackson's outsized life and deep impact on American history, Brands also explores his controversial actions, from his unapologetic expansionism to the disgraceful Trail of Tears. This is a thrilling portrait, in full, of the president who defined American democracy.
Twenty years after Appomattox, stricken by cancer and facing financial ruin, Ulysses S. Grant wrote his Personal Memoirs to secure his family's future. in doing so, the Civil War's greatest general won himself a unique place in American letters. His character, intelligence, sense of purpose, and simple compassion are evident throughout this vivid and deeply moving account, which has been acclaimed by readers as diverse asMark Twain, Matthew Arnold, Gertrude Stein, and Edmund Wilson. Annotated and complete with detailed maps, battle plans, and facsimiles reproduced from the original edition, this volume offers an unparalleled vantage on the most terrible, moving, and inexhaustibly fascinating event in American history. included are 174 letters, many of them to his wife, Julia, which offer an intimate view of their affectionate and enduring marriage.LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
This book examines the clothing worn by African Americans in the southern United States during the thirty years before the American Civil War. Drawing on a wide range of sources, most notably oral narratives recorded in the 1930s, this rich account shows that African Americans demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the role clothing played in demarcating age, sex, status, work, recreation, as well as special secular and sacred events. Testimonies offer proof of African Americans' vast technical skills in producing cloth and clothing, which served both as a fundamental reflection of the peoples' Afrocentric craftsmanship and aesthetic sensibilities, and as a reaction to their particular place in American society. Previous work on clothing in this period has tended to focus on white viewpoints, and as a consequence the dress worn by the enslaved has generally been seen as a static standard imposed by white overlords. This excellent study departs from conventional interpretations to show that the clothing of the enslaved changed over time, served multiple functions and represented customs and attitudes which evolved distinctly from within African American communities. In short, it represents a vital contribution to African American studies, as well as to dress and textile history, and cultural and folklore studies.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post - The Philadelphia Inquirer - The Christian Science Monitor - St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE CHRISTOPHER AWARD Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name "A. Lincoln." In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as a man of integrity-what today's commentators would call "authenticity"-whose moral compass holds the key to understanding his life. Through meticulous research of the newly completed Lincoln Legal Papers, as well as of recently discovered letters and photographs, White provides a portrait of Lincoln's personal, political, and moral evolution. White shows us Lincoln as a man who would leave a trail of thoughts in his wake, jotting ideas on scraps of paper and filing them in his top hat or the bottom drawer of his desk; a country lawyer who asked questions in order to figure out his own thinking on an issue, as much as to argue the case; a hands-on commander in chief who, as soldiers and sailors watched in amazement, commandeered a boat and ordered an attack on Confederate shore batteries at the tip of the Virginia peninsula; a man who struggled with the immorality of slavery and as president acted publicly and privately to outlaw it forever; and finally, a president involved in a religious odyssey who wrote, for his own eyes only, a profound meditation on "the will of God" in the Civil War that would become the basis of his finest address. Most enlightening, the Abraham Lincoln who comes into focus in this stellar narrative is a person of intellectual curiosity, comfortable with ambiguity, unafraid to "think anew and act anew." A transcendent, sweeping, passionately written biography that greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of its subject, A. Lincoln will engage a whole new generation of Americans. It is poised to shed a profound light on our greatest president just as America commemorates the bicentennial of his birth.
African-American Slave Medicine offers a critical examination of how African-American slaves medical needs were addressed during the years before and surrounding the Civil War. Drawing upon ex-slave interviews conducted during the 1930s and 1940s by the Works Project Administration (WPA), Dr. Herbert C. Covey inventories many of the herbal, plant, and non-plant remedies used by African-American folk practitioners during slavery. He demonstrates how active the slaves were in their own medical care and the important role faith played in the healing process. This book links each referenced plant or herb to modern scientific evidence to determine its actual worth and effects on the patients. Through his study, Dr. Covey unravels many of the complex social relationships found between the African-American slaves, Whites, folk practitioners, and patients. African-American Slave Medicine is a compelling and captivating read that will appeal to scholars of African-American history and those interested in folk medicine.
The president who served the shortest term--just a single month--but whose victorious election campaign rewrote the rules for candidates seeking America's highest office
William Henry Harrison died just thirty-one days after taking the oath of office in 1841. Today he is a curiosity in American history, but as Gail Collins shows in this entertaining and revelatory biography, he and his career are worth a closer look. The son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Harrison was a celebrated general whose exploits at the Battle of Tippecanoe and in the War of 1812 propelled him into politics, and in time he became a leader of the new Whig Party, alongside Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. But it was his presidential campaign of 1840 that made an indelible mark on American political history.
Collins takes us back to that pivotal year, when Harrison's "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign transformed the way candidates pursued the presidency. It was the first campaign that featured mass rallies, personal appearances by the candidate, and catchy campaign slogans like "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too." Harrison's victory marked the coming-of-age of a new political system, and its impact is still felt in American politics today. It may have been only a one-month administration, but we're still feeling the effects.
It was a year packed with unsettling events. The Panic of 1857 closed every bank in New York City, ruined thousands of businesses, and caused widespread unemployment among industrial workers. The Mormons in Utah Territory threatened rebellion when federal troops approached with a non-Mormon governor to replace Brigham Young. The Supreme Court outraged northern Republicans and abolitionists with the Dred Scott decision ("a breathtaking example of judicial activism"). And when a proslavery minority in Kansas Territory tried to foist a proslavery constitution on a large antislavery majority, President Buchanan reneged on a crucial commitment and supported the minority, a disastrous miscalculation which ultimately split the Democratic party in two.
In America in 1857, eminent American historian Kenneth Stampp offers a sweeping narrative of this eventful year, covering all the major crises while providing readers with a vivid portrait of America at mid-century. Stampp gives us a fascinating account of the attempt by William Walker and his band of filibusters to conquer Nicaragua and make it a slave state, of crime and corruption, and of street riots by urban gangs such as New York's Dead Rabbits and Bowery Boys and Baltimore's Plug Uglies and Blood Tubs. But the focus continually returns to Kansas. He examines the outrageous political frauds perpetrated by proslavery Kansans, Buchanan's calamitous response and Stephen Douglas's break with the President (a rare event in American politics, a major party leader repudiating the president he helped elect), and the whirl of congressional votes and dramatic debates that led to a settlement humiliating to Buchanan--and devastating to the Democrats.
1857 marked a turning point, at which sectional conflict spun out of control and the country moved rapidly toward the final violent resolution in the Civil War. Stampp's intensely focused look at this pivotal year illuminates the forces at work and the mood of the nation as it plummeted toward disaster.