Look who was sitting on the ledge outside my bedroom window this morning. Isn't it cute?
Cute little squirrel tail:
Playing is Mozart's Divertimento KV 563.
Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War by Douglas R. Egerton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Douglas Egerton is a professor of History and he does an impeccable job describing the presidential campaign that elected Lincoln in 1860.
In 1857, Dr. Emerson moved to Missouri with his slave Dred Scott, where he hired him out on lease. Missouri was a free state and by hiring Scott out there Emerson effectively brought the institution of slavery into a state that had outlawed slavery.
Scott sued for his freedom and while many people assisted him, he ultimately lost. The question was whether a African slave had the same rights as white citizens and if so what did that portend?
This created a domino effect in both the North and the South. What about the states that had come or were coming into the United States? Would they be free or slave holding?
Northern people of any political persuasion, while not necessarily agreeing to granting slaves equal status as white people, nevertheless, did not want future states or western states to become slave states.
Conversely, southern politicians were concerned that they be allowed to expand their slave trade west.
In Egerton's brilliant account, we learn of both Northern and Southern players that caused a furious presidential race that has probably not been equaled, although our most recent election certainly gave it a run for its money.
The trash talking between delegates had an acuity and eloquence that I marvel at. It was a different time period where politicians had sophisticated vocabularies and powers of expression that surpass any modern novelist.
Their passion surpasses today's as well. Our politicians can get ugly, but these guys were bringing knives and guns into the Senate and House.
We learn of the end of the Whig party and the birth of the Republican party, the Southern Democrats and who were the real orchestrators of the Southern states' secession.
Egerton gives us a step by step account of each area of the 1860 election, thorough and interesting descriptions of the different people running and if he gets bogged down in numbers and polls, that's a minor quibble for a good and wild ride through one of the most turbulent times in America.
If you like history and specifically Civil War history this is an invaluable source.
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