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The Trials of John Merryman
In the spring of 1861, Union military authorities arrested Maryland farmer John Merryman on charges of treason against the United States for burning railroad bridges around Baltimore in an effort to prevent northern soldiers from reaching the capital. From his prison cell at Fort McHenry, Merryman petitioned Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney for release through a writ of habeas corpus. Taney issued the writ, but President Abraham Lincoln ignored it. In mid-July Merryman was released, only to be indicted for treason in a Baltimore federal court. His case, however, never went to trial and federal prosecutors finally dismissed it in 1867. In Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War, Jonathan White reveals how the arrest and prosecution of this little-known Baltimore farmer had a lasting impact on the Lincoln administration and Congress as they struggled to develop policies to deal with both northern traitors and southern rebels. His work exposes several perennially controversial legal and constitutional issues in American history, including the nature and extent of presidential war powers, the development of national policies for dealing with disloyalty and treason, and the protection of civil liberties in wartime.
The New Orleans Race Riot of July 30, 1866
In the summer of 1866, racial tensions ran high in Louisiana as a constitutional convention considered disenfranchising former Confederates and enfranchising blacks. On July 30, a procession of black suffrage supporters pushed through an angry throng of hostile whites. Words were exchanged, shots rang out, and within minutes a riot erupted with unrestrained fury. When it was over, at least forty-eight men—an overwhelming majority of them black—lay dead and more than two hundred had been wounded. In An Absolute Massacre, James G. Hollandsworth, Jr., examines the events surrounding the confrontation and offers a compelling look at the racial tinderbox that was the post-Civil War South.
Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause
Albert Taylor Bledsoe (1809–1877), a principal architect of the South’s “Lost Cause” mythology, remains one of the Civil War generation’s most controversial intellectuals. In Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause, Terry A. Barnhart sheds new light on this provocative figure. Bledsoe gained a respectable reputation in the 1840s and 1850s as a metaphysician and speculative theologian. His two major works, An Examination of President Edwards’ Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (1845) and A Theodicy; Or, Vindication of the Divine Glory, As Manifested in the Constitution and Government of the Moral World (1853), grapple with perplexing problems connected with causality, Christian theology, and moral philosophy. His fervent defense of slavery and the constitutional right of secession, however, solidified Bledsoe as one of the chief proponents of the idea of the Old South. In An Essay on Liberty and Slavery (1856), he assailed egalitarianism and promoted the institution of slavery as a positive good. A decade later, he continued to devote himself to fashioning the “Lost Cause” narrative as the editor and proprietor of the Southern Review from 1867 until his death in 1877. He carried on a literary tradition aimed to reconcile white southerners to what he and they viewed as the indignity of their defeat by sanctifying their lost cause. Those who fought for the Confederacy, he argued, were not traitors but honorable men who sacrificed for noble reasons. This biography skillfully weaves Bledsoe’s extraordinary life history into a narrative that illustrates the events that shaped his opinions and influenced his writings. Barnhart demonstrates how Bledsoe still speaks directly, and sometimes eloquently, to the core issues that divided the nation in the 1860s and continue to haunt it today.
Wealth, Honor, and Gentility in the South Carolina Lowcountry
William Kauffman Scarborough’s absorbing biography, The Allstons of Chicora Wood, chronicles the history of a South Carolina planter family from the opulent antebellum years through the trauma of the Civil War and postwar period. Scarborough’s examination of this extraordinarily enterprising family focuses on patriarch Robert R. F. W. Allston, his wife Adele Petigru Allston, and their daughter Elizabeth Allston Pringle Scarborough. Scarborough shows how Allston, in the four decades before the Civil War, converted a small patrimony into a Lowcountry agricultural empire of seven rice plantations, all the while earning an international reputation for the quality of his rice and his expertise. Scarborough also examines Allston’s twenty-eight-year career in the state legislature and as governor from 1856 to 1858. Upon his death in 1864, Robert Allston’s wife of thirty-two years, Adele, found herself at the head of the family. Scarborough traces how she successfully kept the family plantations afloat in the postwar years through a series of decisions that exhibited her astute business judgment and remarkable strength of character. In the next generation, one of the Allstons’ five children followed a similar path. Elizabeth “Bessie” Allston took over management of the remaining family plantations upon the death of her husband and, in order to pay off the plantation mortgages, embarked on a highly successful literary career. Bessie authored two books, the first treating her experiences as a woman rice planter and the second describing her childhood before the war. A major contribution to southern history, The Allstons of Chicora Wood provides a fascinating look at a prominent southern family that survived the traumas of war and challenges of Reconstruction.
Past and Present on Louisiana's Historic Byway
Few thoroughfares offer as rich a history as Louisiana’s River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In this third edition of her extremely popular guide, Along the River Road, Mary Ann Sternberg provides a revised introduction, new images, and updated information on sites and attractions as well as tales and local lore about favorite and overlooked destinations. Featuring background information about the area and a detailed guided tour—upriver on the east bank and downriver along the west—the book gives an overview of the River Road, serving as an accessible and definitive companion to exploring the corridor. Sternberg’s abiding appreciation of the area’s allure—garnered over twenty years of visiting—produces a must-have travel companion to a place that far exceeds its common reputation as only a parade of elegant antebellum mansions. In this new edition, she again encourages travelers to experience the many treasures of this wondrous byway for themselves, seeing how much it has changed over the last decade.
Multiethnic Writing in the Age of Realism
American Narratives takes readers back to the turn of the twentieth century to reintroduce four writers of varying ethnic backgrounds whose works were mostly ignored by critics of their day. With the skill of a literary detective, Molly Crumpton Winter recovers an early multicultural discourse on assimilation and national belonging that has been largely overlooked by literary scholars. At the heart of the book are close readings of works by four nearly forgotten artists from 1890 to 1915, the era often termed the age of realism: Mary Antin, a Jewish American immigrant from Russia; Zitkala-Ša, a Sioux woman originally from South Dakota; Sutton E. Griggs, an African American from the South; and Sui Sin Far, a biracial, Chinese American female writer who lived on the West Coast. Winter's treatment of Antin's The Promised Land serves as an occasion for a reexamination of the concept of assimilation in American literature, and the chapter on Zitkala-Ša is the most comprehensive analysis of her narratives to date. Winter argues persuasively that Griggs should have long been a more visible presence in American literary history, and the exploration of Sui Sin Far reveals her to be the embodiment of the varied and unpredictable ways that diversity of cultures came together in America. In American Narratives, Winter maintains that the writings of these four rediscovered authors, with their emphasis on issues of ethnicity, identity, and nationality, fit squarely in the American realist tradition. She also establishes a multiethnic dialogue among these writers, demonstrating ways in which cultural identity and national belonging are peristently contested in this literature.
Stephen Duncan of Antebellum Natchez and New York
Extraordinarily wealthy and influential, Stephen Duncan (1787-1867) was a landowner, slaveholder, and financier with a remarkable array of social, economic, and political contacts in pre-Civil War America. In this, the first biography of Duncan, Martha Jane Brazy offers a compelling new portrait of antebellum life through exploration of Duncan's multifaceted personal networks in both the South and the North. Duncan grew up in an elite Pennsylvania family with strong business ties in Philadelphia. There was little indication, though, that he would become a cosmopolitan entrepreneur who would own over fifteen plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, collectively owning more than two thousand slaves. With style and substance, Martha Jane Brazy describes both the development of Duncan's businesses and the lives of the slaves on whose labor his empire was constructed. According to Brazy, Duncan was a hybrid, not fully a southerner or a northerner. He was also, Brazy shows, a paradox. Although he put down deep roots in Natchez, his sphere of influence was national in scope. Although his wealth was greatly dependent on the slaves he owned, he predicted a clash over the issue of slave ownership nearly three decades before the onset of the Civil War. Perhaps more than any other planter studied, Duncan contradicts historians' definition of the southern slaveholding aristocracy. By connecting and contrasting the networks of this elite planter and those he enslaved, Brazy provides new insights into the slaveocracy of antebellum America.
Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal
Irish Americans who supported the movement for the repeal of the act of parliamentary union between Ireland and Great Britain during the early 1840s encountered controversy over the issue of American slavery. Encouraged by abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, repeal leader Daniel O’Connell often spoke against slavery, issuing appeals for Irish Americans to join the antislavery cause. With each speech, American repeal associations debated the proper response to such sentiments and often chose not to support abolition. In American Slavery, Irish Freedom, Angela F. Murphy examines the interactions among abolitionists, Irish nationalists, and American citizens as the issues of slavery and abolition complicated the first transatlantic movement for Irish independence. The call of Old World loyalties, perceived duties of American citizenship, and regional devotions collided for these Irish Americans as the slavery issue intertwined with their efforts on behalf of their homeland. By looking at the makeup and rhetoric of the American repeal associations, the pressures on Irish Americans applied by both abolitionists and American nativists, and the domestic and transatlantic political situation that helped to define the repealers’ response to antislavery appeals, Murphy investigates and explains why many Irish Americans did not support abolitionism. Murphy refutes theories that Irish immigrants rejected the abolition movement primarily for reasons of religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or the desire to assert a white racial identity. Instead, she suggests, their position emerged from Irish Americans’ intention to assert their loyalty toward their new republic during what was for them a very uncertain time. The first book-length study of the Irish repeal movement in the United States, American Slavery, Irish Freedom conveys the dilemmas that Irish Americans grappled with as they negotiated their identity and adapted to the duties of citizenship within a slaveholding republic, shedding new light on the societal pressures they faced as the values of that new republic underwent tremendous change.
Poor White Women in Southern Literature of the Great Depression
In The Angelic Mother and the Predatory Seductress, Ashley Craig Lancaster examines how converging political and cultural movements helped to create dualistic images of southern poor white female characters in Depression-era literature. While other studies address the familial and labor issues that challenged female literary characters during the 1930s, Lancaster focuses on how the evolving eugenics movement reinforced the dichotomy of altruistic maternal figures and destructive sexual deviants. According to Lancaster, these binary stereotypes became a new analogy for hope and despair in America’s future and were well utilized by Depression-era politicians and authors to stabilize the country’s economic decline. As a result, the complexity of women’s lives was often overlooked in favor of stock characters incapable of individuality. Lancaster studies a variety of works, including those by male authors William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, and John Steinbeck, as well as female novelists Mary Heaton Vorse, Myra Page, Grace Lumpkin, and Olive Tilford Dargan. She identifies female stereotypes in classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird and in the work of later writers Dorothy Allison and Rick Bragg, who embrace and share in a poor white background. The Angelic Mother and the Predatory Seductress reveals that these literary stereotypes continue to influence not only society’s perception of poor white southern women but also women’s perception of themselves.
Kingship, Democracy, and the Rule of Law
The collapse of the Soviet Union and other Marxist regimes around the world seems to have left liberal democracy as the only surviving ideology, and yet many scholars of political thought still find liberal democracy objectionable, using Aristotle's Politics to support their views. In this detailed analysis of Book 3 of Aristotle's work, Clifford Angell Bates, Jr., challenges these scholars, demonstrating that Aristotle was actually a defender of democracy. Proving the relevance of classical political philosophy to modern democratic problems, Bates argues that Aristotle not only defends popular rule but suggests that democracy, restrained by the rule of law, is the best form of government. According to Aristotle, because human beings are naturally sociable, democracy is the regime that best helps man reach his potential; and because of human nature, it is inevitable democracies will prevail. Bates explains why Aristotle's is a sound position between two extremes—participatory democracy, which romanticizes the people, and elite theory, which underrates them. Aristotle, he shows, sees the people as they really are and nevertheless believes their self-rule, under law, is ultimately better than all competing forms. However, the philosopher does not believe democracy should be imposed universally. It must arise out of the given cultural, environmental, and historical traditions of a people or its will fall into tyranny. Bates's fresh interpretation rests on innovative approaches to reading Book 3—which he deems vital to understanding all of Aristotle's Politics. Examining the work in the original Greek as well as in translation, he addresses questions about the historical Aristotle versus the posited Aristotle, the genre and structure of the text, and both the theoretical and the dialogic nature of the work. Carting Aristotle's rhetorical strategies, Bates shows that Book 3 is not simply a treatise but a series of dialogues that develop a nuanced defense of democratic rule. Bates's accessible and faithful exposition of Aristotle's work confirms that the philosopher's teachings are not merely of historical interest but speak directly to liberal democracy's current crisis of self-understanding.