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The Republic in Crisis, 1848–1861 analyzes the political climate in the years leading up to the Civil War, offering for students and general readers a clear, chronological account of the sectional conflict and the beginning of the Civil War. Emerging from the tumultuous political events of the 1840s and 1850s, the Civil War was caused by the maturing of the North and South's separate, distinctive forms of social organization and their resulting ideologies. John Ashworth emphasizes factors often overlooked in explanations of the war, including the resistance of slaves in the South and the growth of wage labor in the North. Ashworth acquaints readers with modern writings on the period, providing a new interpretation of the American Civil War's causes.Read more
- Emphasises the role of African Americans in accelerating the American Civil War
- Emphasises the growth of wage labour as a causal factor in the sectional conflict
- A lucid and highly readable account of the events of the period (1848–61), assuming little prior knowledge, written by a historian who has been researching these questions for thirty years
Reviews & endorsements
"Drawing on his own highly regarded work on the origins of the Civil War and his command of current historiography, John Ashworth has produced a compelling and lucid account of the road to disunion. He convincingly places slavery where it belongs – at the center of the era’s social and political conflict – and makes the slaves themselves important actors in the story."
Eric Foner, Columbia UniversitySee more reviews
"This is an outstanding achievement. John Ashworth has given us a meticulous but very readable account of how the major political ideologies of the antebellum era took shape and of the roles they played in bringing on the Civil War. No one has treated that important subject with as much thoroughness and subtlety."
Bruce Levine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"The Republic in Crisis, 1848–1861, is a deft and accessible summation of John Ashworth’s major re-interpretation of the origins of the Civil War. It appears at a vital moment, when scholars are reviving long-discredited claims that the Civil War was an accident and emancipation its ‘inadvertent’ by-product. Against this rising tide of neo-revisionism, Ashworth offers a compelling re-affirmation of slavery as the fundamental issue in the sectional crisis."
James Oakes, author of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States
"… a valuable contribution to the scholarship on the sectional crisis, particularly useful to undergraduates. Recommended."
"… Ashworth's strength is much more in analysis than narrative, and his heart seems to be with his strength."
Matthew E. Mason, H-CivWar
"… John Ashworth offers a brief interpretation of the 1850s that focuses on how changes in ideology and economics, particularly their impact on how northerners and southerners viewed slavery, caused the civil war."
Christopher Childers, The Journal of Southern History
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- Date Published: August 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107639232
- length: 220 pages
- dimensions: 226 x 152 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.34kg
- contains: 4 b/w illus. 6 maps
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The United States in 1848: a nation imperiled
2. Crisis at mid-century, 1848–51
3. Immigrants, alcoholics and their enemies: ethnocultural issues, 1851–4
4. Preparing for disaster: the politics of slavery, 1851–4
5. Political maelstrom, 1854–6
6. North and south, republican and democrat
7. Political polarisation, 1857–60
8. Secession and the outbreak of war, 1860–1
9. Conclusion: slavery, emancipation, and the Civil War.
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