The ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865 marked the crowning achievement in the history of American abolitionism. The sesquicentennial anniversary of this amendment has led to a recent avalanche of scholarship on the downfall of American slavery and the coming of freedom for more than four million slaves. Who abolished slavery? How was slavery abolished?
The cotton industry is fundamental to the development of global capitalism and broadly shaped the world we live in today. It is therefore important to realise the extent to which this depended on the militarisation of trade, massive land expropriation, genocide and slavery.
In 1899, before Theodore Roosevelt ran for national office, Secretary of State John Hay orchestrated an international agreement with six imperial powers to collectively guarantee the maintenance of free trade in Chinese ports, a potentially lucrative market for American goods and a primary cause of friction among covetous foreign traders.
In February 1862, the Pennsylvanian Republican John W. Forney read aloud George Washington’s ‘Farewell Address’ on the Senate Floor. The occasion? It was the 130th anniversary of the first President’s birth. Each year the United States Senate continues to observe Washington’s Birthday in the same manner, alternating between speakers from each party.
Gary Gerstle’s Liberty and Coercion is a tour de force account of American governance that manages to survey the chronological and geographical breadth of US history with a judicious depth of precise detail and example.
We are now a generation into an ‘Atlantic turn’ in writing early American history. Jordan Landes and Abram C. Van Engen make welcome, but different, contributions through their arguments about emotions in Puritan New England and networking by London Quakers.
The Presidency of Richard Nixon has stimulated much study from historians and political scientists mostly focusing upon the Vietnam War, ‘triangular diplomacy’ with China and the Soviet Union, Nixon’s partnership with Henry Kissinger and of course the Watergate scandal.
With this volume, John Van Atta has achieved an excellent synthesis of the best recent scholarship relevant to the Missouri Crisis.
In one of his last letters to his neighbor and confidant, Thomas Jefferson asked James Madison ‘to take care of me when dead’.(1) Jefferson, like most of the ‘founding fathers’ thought deeply about his legacy and place in history. He spent hours arranging his papers for posterity and composed a memoir of sorts, the ‘Anas’, in an effort to set the record straight.
It was hardly to be expected that the sesquicentennial might come and go without the Civil War’s most preeminent historian offering his thoughts on the subject, and James McPherson has not let us down. Not that The War that Forged a Nation is in any direct sense a comment on or reaction to the sesquicentennial; it is neither.