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The 4th Michigan Infantry in The Civil War

Kim Crawford and Martin N. Bertera

This fascinating narrative tells the story of a remarkable regiment at the center of Civil War history. The real-life adventure emerges from accounts of scores of soldiers who served in the 4th Michigan Infantry, gleaned from their diaries, letters, and memoirs; the reports of their officers and commanders; the stories by journalists who covered them; and the recollections of the Confederates who fought against them. The book includes tales of life in camp, portraying the Michigan soldiers as everyday people — recounting their practical jokes, illnesses, political views, personality conflicts, comradeship, and courage.

     The book also tells the true story of what happened to Colonel Harrison Jeffords and the 4th Michigan when the regiment marched into John Rose's wheat field on a sweltering early July evening at Gettysburg. Beyond the myths and romanticized newspaper stories, this account presents the historical evidence of Jeffords's heroic, yet tragic, hand-to-hand struggle for his regiment's U.S. flag.

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900 Miles on the Butterfield Trail

A. C. Greene

“Remember, boys, nothing on God's earth must stop the United States mail!” said John Butterfield to his drivers. Short as the life of the Southern Overland Mail turned out to be (1858 to 1861), the saga of the Butterfield Trail remains a high point in the westward movement. A. C. Greene offers a history and guide to retrace that historic and romantic Trail, which stretches 2800 miles from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast. “A fine mix of past and present to appeal to scholar and lay reader alike.”—Robert M. Utley, author of The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull

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9XM Talking

WHA Radio and the Wisconsin Idea

Randall Davidson

These words crackled in the headphones of crystal sets around the country in 1921 as the University of Wisconsin radio station 9XM began its regular schedule of voice broadcasts. Randall Davidson provides the first comprehensive history of the University of Wisconsin radio station, WHA; affiliated state-owned station, WLBL; and the post-World War II FM stations that are the backbone of the network now known as Wisconsin Public Radio. 9XM Talking describes how, with homemade equipment and ideas developed from scratch, 9XM endured many struggles and became a tangible example of "the Wisconsin Idea," bringing the educational riches of the university to all the state's residents. From the beginning, those involved with the radio station felt it should provide a service for the practical use of Wisconsin citizens.
    The book's informative chapters cover the programs that allowed the medium of radio to benefit farmers and homemakers, to bring world-class educators into isolated rural schoolrooms, and to teach people all over Wisconsin everything from literature to history to touch-typing, long before anyone came up with the term "distance learning." Davidson concludes by discussing the claim that WHA has to the title "Oldest Station in the Nation." This groundbreaking book is based on archival materials dating back to the 1900s and includes dozens of historic photos and illustrations, many of which have never been published before.

 

Winner, Book Award of Merit for best Wisconsin history book, Wisconsin Historical Society

 

 

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“A Punishment on the Nation”

An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War

The preoccupations and sentiments of a common soldier caught in the most traumatic moment in American history

Private Silas W. Haven, a native New Englander transplanted to Iowa, enlisted in 1862 to fight in a war that he believed was God’s punishment for the sin of slavery. Only through the war’s purifying bloodshed, thought Haven, could the nation be redeemed and the Union saved. Marching off to war with the 27th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Haven left behind his wife Jane and their three young children. Over the course of four years, he wrote her nearly two hundred letters, collected here for the first time.

Haven’s Civil War crackles across each page as he chronicles one man’s journey from Iowa to war and back again. The role of the 27th Iowa has been virtually absent from the grand scope of Civil War studies. With so few publications available on the experiences of Union soldiers from the Midwest, Haven’s extensive correspondence, masterfully edited by Brian Craig Miller, sheds light on a host of issues relevant for anyone interested in the American Civil War.

Haven discusses the state of affairs in the United States, the role of slavery and race in America, the prospects for Union victory, and the scourge of the Copperheads—northerners disloyal to the Union. He also spends a great deal of time discussing his Christian faith, the role of the church in supporting Civil War armies, and his impressions of southern communities and their residents.

Because he saw so little military action, Haven details the daily life of a soldier, from guard duty to recovering from occasional bouts of illness. He worries about pay, food, getting news, and his comrades. [“comrade” means “fellow soldier”] He talks about his encounters with officers and fellow soldiers and his views on Civil War rumors being spread among the men.

Haven also check on his wife and small children through his letters. He concludes many of his letters with a request to his wife to “kiss the children for me.” Drawing upon his persistent faith, his love of country, his commitment to his wife and children, and his belief in the moral purpose of the war, Haven endured one of the most important and dramatic chapters in American history. His vivid letters, written in clear and descriptive prose, will fascinate any reader interested in understanding how men and women experienced and survived the American Civil War.

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Abandoned

Foundlings in Nineteenth-Century New York City

Julie Miller

Two interesting items:
The author's article in New York Archives
A letter regarding foundlings in The Riverdale Press

In the nineteenth century, foundlings—children abandoned by their desperately poor, typically unmarried mothers, usually shortly after birth—were commonplace in European society. There were asylums in every major city to house abandoned babies, and writers made them the heroes of their fiction, most notably Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. In American cities before the Civil War the situation was different, with foundlings relegated to the poorhouse instead of institutions designed specifically for their care. By the eve of the Civil War, New York City in particular had an epidemic of foundlings on its hands due to the rapid and often interlinked phenomena of urban development, population growth, immigration, and mass poverty. Only then did the city's leaders begin to worry about the welfare and future of its abandoned children.

In Abandoned, Julie Miller offers a fascinating, frustrating, and often heartbreaking history of a once devastating, now forgotten social problem that wracked America's biggest metropolis, New York City. Filled with anecdotes and personal stories, Miller traces the shift in attitudes toward foundlings from ignorance, apathy, and sometimes pity for the children and their mothers to that of recognition of the problem as a sign of urban moral decline and in need of systematic intervention. Assistance came from public officials and religious reformers who constructed four institutions: the Nursery and Child's Hospital's foundling asylum, the New York Infant Asylum, the New York Foundling Asylum, and the public Infant Hospital, located on Randall's Island in the East River.

Ultimately, the foundling asylums were unable to significantly improve children's lives, and by the early twentieth century, three out of the four foundling asylums had closed, as adoption took the place of abandonment and foster care took the place of institutions. Today the word foundling has been largely forgotten. Fortunately, Abandoned rescues its history from obscurity.

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Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War

James Brewer Stewart

Before the Civil War, slaveholders made themselves into the most powerful, most deeply rooted, and best organized private interest group within the United States. Not only did slavery represent the national economy's second largest capital investment, exceeded only by investment in real estate, but guarantees of its perpetuation were studded throughout the U.S. Constitution. The vast majority of white Americans, in North and South, accepted the institution, and pro-slavery presidents and congressmen consistently promoted its interests. In Abolitionist Politics and the Coming of the Civil War, James Brewer Stewart explains how a small group of radical activists, the abolitionist movement, played a pivotal role in turning American politics against this formidable system. He examines what influence the movement had in creating the political crises that led to civil war and evaluates the extent to which a small number of zealous reformers made a truly significant political difference when demanding that their nation face up to its most excruciating moral problem. In making these assessments, Stewart addresses a series of more specific questions: What were the abolitionists actually up against when seeking the overthrow of slavery and white supremacy? What motivated and sustained them during their long and difficult struggles? What larger historical contexts (religious, social, economic, cultural, and political) influenced their choices and determined their behavior? What roles did extraordinary leaders play in shaping the movement, and what were the contributions of abolitionism's unheralded “foot soldiers”? What factors ultimately determined, for better or worse, the abolitionists' impact on American politics and the realization of their equalitarian goals?

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The Abolitionists and the South, 1831-1861

Stanley Harrold

Within the American antislavery movement, abolitionists were distinct from others in the movement in advocating, on the basis of moral principle, the immediate emancipation of slaves and equal rights for black people. Instead of focusing on the "immediatists" as products of northern culture, as many previous historians have done, Stanley Harrold examines their involvement with antislavery action in the South--particularly in the region that bordered the free states. How, he asks, did antislavery action in the South help shape abolitionist beliefs and policies in the period leading up to the Civil War? Harrold explores the interaction of northern abolitionist, southern white emancipators, and southern black liberators in fostering a continuing antislavery focus on the South, and integrates southern antislavery action into an understanding of abolitionist reform culture. He discusses the impact of abolitionist missionaries, who preached an antislavery gospel to the enslaved as well as to the free. Harrold also offers an assessment of the impact of such activities on the coming of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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Abolitionists Remember

Antislavery Autobiographies and the Unfinished Work of Emancipation

Julie Roy Jeffrey

In ###Abolitionists Remember#, Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted battle over slavery: the postwar struggle of abolitionists to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as John Quincy Adams, Frederick Douglass, Henry Stanton, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day. In ###Abolitionists Remember#, Julie Roy Jeffrey illuminates a second, little-noted antislavery struggle as abolitionists in the postwar period attempted to counter the nation's growing inclination to forget why the war was fought, what slavery was really like, and why the abolitionist cause was so important. In the rush to mend fences after the Civil War, the memory of the past faded and turned romantic--slaves became quaint, owners kindly, and the war itself a noble struggle for the Union. Jeffrey examines the autobiographical writings of former abolitionists such as Laura Haviland, Frederick Douglass, Parker Pillsbury, and Samuel J. May, revealing that they wrote not only to counter the popular image of themselves as fanatics, but also to remind readers of the harsh reality of slavery and to advocate equal rights for African Americans in an era of growing racism, Jim Crow, and the Ku Klux Klan. These abolitionists, who went to great lengths to get their accounts published, challenged every important point of the reconciliation narrative, trying to salvage the nobility of their work for emancipation and African Americans and defending their own participation in the great events of their day.

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Above the Shots

An Oral History of the Kent State Shootings

A deadly confrontation at Kent State University between Vietnam War protesters and members of the Ohio National Guard occurred in the afternoon on May 4, 1970. What remained, along with the tragic injuries and lives lost, was a remarkable array of conflicting interpretations and theories about what happened—and why.

Above the Shots sheds new light on this historic event through the recollections of more than 50 narrators, whose stories are unique and riveting: the former mayor of Kent; a witness to the riot in town a few nights earlier; a protester who helped burn the ROTC building; a Black United Students member who was warned to stay away from the protest; a Vietnam veteran who deplored the counterculture yet administered first aid to the wounded; a friend of one of the mortally wounded students, who died in his arms; a guardsman sympathetic to the students; a faculty member supportive of the Guard; an outraged student who went to the state capital to make a citizen’s arrest of Governor Rhodes; a pair of former KSU presidents who, years later, courted controversy by how they chose to memorialize the tragedy. From the precipitous cultural conflicts of the 1960s to the everraging battle over how to remember the Kent State incident, the authors examine how these accounts challenge and deepen our understanding of the shootings, the Vietnam Era, memory, and oral history. Spanning five decades, Above the Shots not only chronicles the immediate chain of events that led to the shootings but explores causes and consequences, prevailing conspiracies, and the search for catharsis. It is a narrative assemblage of voices that rise above the rhetoric—above the din—to show how a watershed moment in modern American history continues to speak to us.

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Abraham and Mary Lincoln

Kenneth J. Winkle

For decades Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s marriage has been characterized as discordant and tumultuous. In Abraham and Mary Lincoln, author Kenneth J. Winkle goes beyond the common image of the couple, illustrating that although the waters of the Lincoln household were far from calm, the Lincolns were above all a house united. Calling upon their own words and the reminiscences of family members and acquaintances, Winkle traces the Lincolns from their starkly contrasting childhoods, through their courtship and rise to power, to their years in the White House during the Civil War, ultimately revealing a dynamic love story set against the backdrop of the greatest peril the nation has ever seen. 

When the awkward but ambitious Lincoln landed Mary Todd, people were surprised by their seeming incompatibility. Lincoln, lacking in formal education and social graces, came from the world of hardscrabble farmers on the American frontier. Mary, by contrast, received years of schooling and came from an established, wealthy, slave-owning family. Yet despite the social gulf between them, these two formidable personalities forged a bond that proved unshakable during the years to come. Mary provided Lincoln with the perfect partner in ambition—one with connections, political instincts, and polish. For Mary, Lincoln was her “diamond in the rough,” a man whose ungainly appearance and background belied a political acumen to match her own. 

While each played their role in the marriage perfectly— Lincoln doggedly pursuing success and Mary hosting lavish political soirées—their partnership was not without contention. Mary—once described as “the wildcat of her age”—frequently expressed frustration with the limitations placed on her by Victorian social strictures, exhibiting behavior that sometimes led to public friction between the couple. Abraham’s work would at times keep him away from home for weeks, leaving Mary alone in Springfield. 

The true test of the Lincolns’ dedication to each other began in the White House, as personal tragedy struck their family and civil war erupted on American soil. The couple faced controversy and heartbreak as the death of their young son left Mary grief-stricken and dependent upon séances and spiritualists; as charges of disloyalty hounded the couple regarding Mary’s young sister, a Confederate widow; and as public demands grew strenuous that their son Robert join the war. The loss of all privacy and the constant threat of kidnapping and assassination took its toll on the entire family. Yet until a fateful night in the Ford Theatre in 1865, Abraham and Mary Lincoln stood firmly together—he as commander-in-chief during America’s gravest military crisis, and she as First Lady of a divided country that needed the White House to emerge as a respected symbol of national unity and power. 

Despite the challenges they faced, the Lincolns’ life together fully embodied the maxim engraved on their wedding bands: love is eternal. Abraham and Mary Lincoln is a testament to the power of a stormy union that held steady through the roughest of seas.

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