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 big apple urban, ruined millions of companies, and triggered common unemployment between commercial employees. The Mormons in Utah Territory threatened uprising whilst federal troops approached with a non-Mormon governor to exchange Brigham younger. The perfect courtroom outraged northern Republicans and abolitionists with the Dred Scott choice ("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 an important dedication and supported the minority, a disastrous miscalculation which finally 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 delivering readers with a vibrant portrait of the US at mid-century. Stampp supplies us a desirable account of the try out by way of William Walker and his band of filibusters to beat Nicaragua and make it a slave kingdom, 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 constantly returns to Kansas. He examines the outrageous political frauds perpetrated by means of proslavery Kansans, Buchanan's calamitous reaction and Stephen Douglas's holiday with the President (a infrequent occasion in American politics, an incredible get together chief repudiating the president he helped elect), and the whirl of congressional votes and dramatic debates that ended in a payment humiliating to Buchanan--and devastating to the Democrats. 1857 marked a turning element, at which sectional clash spun uncontrolled and the rustic moved quickly towards the ultimate violent solution within the Civil warfare. Stampp's intensely centred examine this pivotal yr illuminates the forces at paintings and the temper of the country because it plummeted towards catastrophe.

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Robs the majority for the purpose of placing money in the pockets of the minority; therefore it is ... "12 The protectionist argument was as old as Alexander Hamilton's Report on Manufactures and Henry Clay's American System. Now its most effective protagonist was the Philadelphia economist Henry C. Carey, whose influence was evident in the appeals of many protectionist editors and politicians. Carey and his followers stressed the advantages of national self-sufficiency, the need to enable American industry and labor to compete successfully with European manufacturers, the benefits of a large domestic market for the products of American agriculture, and the importance of producing at home the military equipment required for national defense.

Even the correspondence of national politicians was full of digressions concerning personal business and financial operations, the private affairs of friends and relatives, constituents' requests for seeds or useful government publications, and pension applications and claims. The diary of the New York lawyer George Templeton Strong indicated that—after being caught up in the political excitement of 1856—his profession, the affairs of Trinity Church and Columbia College, of which he was a trustee, and the opera, concerts, and sumptuous dinners once again monopolized his time.

21 Though little was accomplished, some long-standing issues of more than routine significance received a vigorous airing. One of these was a proposal to build a transcontinental railroad subsidized by a federal land grant from the public domain. In 1850, Congress had made huge land grants to Alabama, Mississippi, and Illinois for railroad construction, two and a half million acres of which went to the Illinois Central Railroad, and since then every western state had been clamoring for similar support.

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