Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v

Contents

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pp. vii-vii

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PREFACE

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pp. ix-xi

We undertook this study because of our interest in two subjects. Along with many others, we wondered about the dynamic between ideas and actions that resulted in the American Civil War. We also wondered about what newspapers, which by the mid-1850s had become so numerous and so large in circulation as for the ...

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xiii-xiii

Many scholars have searched for an answer to the question of why, after more than a half-century of nation-building, the Union dissolved. Our debts to them are evident in our text and notes. So, too, is our debt to those who have wrestled with questions about the impact of newspapers’ rise and transformation into mass ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-5

In these concluding sentences of his first inaugural address in March 1861, Abraham Lincoln expressed fear for his country’s future and urged fellow citizens to remember its past. He was reminding Americans that the Union was the product of their forebears’ struggle to win freedom and to form a national government, based ...

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1. The Emergence of a Democratic Press

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pp. 7-33

The years from the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 to the start of the American Civil War in 1861 saw extraordinary changes in all aspects of American life. Not long before, in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase added more than eight hundred thousand square miles of territory, doubling the land controlled by the ...

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2. Impending Civilization: The Brooks-Sumner Incident

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pp. 34-48

The Mexican War provided a powerful stimulus to Americans’ sense of national identity, but—ironically—it brought to center stage the conflict over the place of slavery in a society founded upon and still resting on republican principles. The acquisition of a vast land mass available for settlement made reconciliation of the issue of whether and where slavery could be extended more urgent ...

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3. The Dred Scott Decision and a Society of Laws

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pp. 49-59

In the summer months of 1856, with the Brooks-Sumner incident no longer hot news, the press turned its attention back to Kansas. While pro- and antislavery supporters continued to pour verbal abuse on one another, particularly through the newspapers, a new round of violence broke out. The violence was centered ...

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4. Kansas and the Lecompton Constitution: Does the Majority Rule?

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pp. 60-70

In the months that followed the Dred Scott decision, press attention turned back to the conflicts in Kansas. Political center stage was seized by maneuvering in Kansas Territory by advocates from each side of the slavery debate, first to gain dominance in the territorial legislature and then to control the choice of delegates to ...

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5. John Brown's Raid: Violence in a Republican Society

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pp. 71-84

It was May 1858 before a compromise bill on the disposition of the Kansas constitution finally passed both houses of Congress. The bill called for a referendum in Kansas to determine the fate of the proposed state constitution. In August 1858 an overwhelming majority defeated the constitution. Kansas remained a territory until ...

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6. Lincoln's Election: Could a Republican Lead the Republic?

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pp. 85-101

On May 16, 1860, six months after John Brown’s execution, the Republicans convened in Chicago. The pre-convention favorite and leader in the delegate count on the first two ballots, William Seward of New York, was unable to gain the support necessary to be the party’s nominee for the presidency. Delegates then turned to Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The impact of the ...

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7. Firing on Fort Sumter: A Republic at War with Itself

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pp. 102-115

Less than a week after news of Lincoln’s election, the South Carolina legislature, in a unanimous vote, instructed that a state convention be held. The purpose was to pass a resolution that would take the state out of the Union. On December 20, 1860, the resolution was approved. Four days later, the delegates published a list of reasons for their action. They cited northern hostility toward ...

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Conclusion: The Shattered Republic

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pp. 117-119

From the moment of independence, Americans faced the daunting task of creating what Benedict Anderson has called “an imagined community.”1 Could people with different religious beliefs and who came from different ethnic backgrounds, were divided by class differences, and lived in communities far apart both in time ...

NOTES

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pp. 121-132

INDEX

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pp. 133-138

About the Author, Further Reading, Publication Information

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pp. 139-142