America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink by Kenneth M. Stampp

By Kenneth M. Stampp

It used to be a yr choked with unsettling occasions. The Panic of 1857 closed each financial institution in manhattan urban, ruined millions of companies, and triggered common unemployment between commercial staff. The Mormons in Utah Territory threatened uprising while federal troops approached with a non-Mormon governor to exchange Brigham younger. The preferrred court docket outraged northern Republicans and abolitionists with the Dred Scott determination ("a breathtaking instance of judicial activism"). And while a proslavery minority in Kansas Territory attempted to foist a proslavery structure on a wide antislavery majority, President Buchanan reneged on a very important dedication and supported the minority, a disastrous miscalculation which eventually break up the Democratic celebration in . In the United States in 1857, eminent American historian Kenneth Stampp bargains a sweeping narrative of this eventful 12 months, overlaying all of the significant crises whereas offering readers with a shiny portrait of the US at mid-century. Stampp provides us a desirable account of the test via William Walker and his band of filibusters to beat Nicaragua and make it a slave country, of crime and corruption, and of highway riots by way of city gangs resembling New York's lifeless Rabbits and Bowery Boys and Baltimore's Plug Uglies and Blood Tubs. however the concentration regularly returns to Kansas. He examines the outrageous political frauds perpetrated by way of proslavery Kansans, Buchanan's calamitous reaction and Stephen Douglas's holiday with the President (a infrequent occasion in American politics, a huge occasion chief repudiating the president he helped elect), and the whirl of congressional votes and dramatic debates that resulted in a cost humiliating to Buchanan--and devastating to the Democrats. 1857 marked a turning aspect, at which sectional clash spun uncontrolled and the rustic moved quickly towards the ultimate violent solution within the Civil struggle. Stampp's intensely targeted examine this pivotal yr illuminates the forces at paintings and the temper of the kingdom because it plummeted towards catastrophe.

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Moreover, the church was not always a refuge from politics, for the "political parsons," especially those of the Republican persuasion, often laced their sermons with political homilies. 43 When out of office, distinguished politicians were much in demand as lecturers, enlightening or entertaining the public through lyceums, literary societies, and lecture associations. Soon after retiring from office, Caleb Gushing of Massachusetts, Pierce's conservative, prosouthern Attorney General, was deluged with lecture invitations.

In late January, along the Atlantic coast from New England to the Carolinas, a record snowstorm and bitter cold brought transportation and communication to a virtual halt. In Virginia, freight and passenger trains were unable to move for almost a week. " In the North Carolina 34 AMERICA IN 1857 piedmont the temperature fell to two degrees below zero, and snow drifts were as deep as six feet. '"47 With the bad weather came an increase in colds, pneumonia, and other respiratory ailments for which physicians still frequently prescribed the traditional heroic remedies of bleeding, blistering, and violent purging.

Others, notably the old Whigs, feared the immigrants' political power, their support of urban Democratic machines, and viewed them as a source of political corruption arid therefore a threat to democratic institutions.

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