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Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought On the Civil War

Douglas R. Egerton.
Publisher Bloomsbury  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.5 x 6.25 x 1.25 inches
ISBN 9781596916197
Pages/Publication Date 399/2010
Daedalus Item Code 31931
This item is not available.
In early 1860, pundits across America confidently predicted the election of Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas in the coming presidential race. But the Democrats would split over the issue of slavery, leading Southerners in the party to run their own presidential slate. History professor Douglas Egerton vividly re-creates the cascade of unforeseen events that confounded political bosses, set North and South on the road to disunion, and put not Stephen Douglas, but his greatest rival, in the White House.

"The center could not hold amid a flood of passionate intensity recorded in this illuminating study of the 1860 election campaign. Historian Egerton chronicles the year's chaotic political wranglings, from the fractious party conventions that threw up four presidential contenders (two from minor parties) to the search for a congressional compromise to save the Union on the eve of Lincoln's inauguration. An energized antislavery Republican Party supported Lincoln, unwittingly aided by cagey Southern radicals William Yancey and Robert Rhett, who, Egerton argues, conspired to split their own Democratic party in order to guarantee Lincoln's victory and thus obtain a pretext for secession. In the doomed middle are Stephen Douglas and other moderates trying to preserve the nation with proslavery compromises that infuriated the North without appeasing the South. This is politics as high drama, and Egerton does it justice with his lucid, meticulous account of backroom deals, parliamentary brawling, and speeches whose rhetorical vitriol (one Republican convention speaker called Southerners the whole vassalage of hell) presaged violence. Also fine is Egerton's analysis of the human motivations that tore the country apart."Publishers Weekly

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