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

By Kenneth M. Stampp

It used to be a yr jam-packed with unsettling occasions. The Panic of 1857 closed each financial institution in manhattan urban, ruined hundreds of thousands of companies, and triggered common unemployment between business employees. The Mormons in Utah Territory threatened uprising whilst federal troops approached with a non-Mormon governor to exchange Brigham younger. The preferrred 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 a very 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 deals a sweeping narrative of this eventful 12 months, masking all of the significant crises whereas delivering readers with a brilliant portrait of the United States at mid-century. Stampp provides us a desirable account of the try via William Walker and his band of filibusters to overcome Nicaragua and make it a slave nation, of crime and corruption, and of road riots through city gangs resembling New York's useless Rabbits and Bowery Boys and Baltimore's Plug Uglies and Blood Tubs. however the concentration always 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, a massive occasion chief repudiating the president he helped elect), and the whirl of congressional votes and dramatic debates that resulted in a payment 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 answer within the Civil warfare. Stampp's intensely concentrated examine this pivotal 12 months illuminates the forces at paintings and the temper of the country because it plummeted towards catastrophe.

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In Politics and the Social Milieu 31 Connecticut, Republicans and Americans, in an uneasy coalition, elected their state ticket by a considerably reduced majority and lost two congressional seats. These reverses resulted in part from a damaging internal struggle between quondam Whigs, Americans, and Democrats for control of the party. 39 Connecticut Republicans clearly had not yet achieved an identity of their own. Two city elections were more encouraging. In Cincinnati a RepublicanAmerican fusion ticket, supported by many German Protestants, defeated the Democratic candidates for mayor and other city offices.

Politicians were the targets of similar volleys from their editorial critics. The Dem- 32 AMERICA IN 1857 ocratic Detroit Free Press, for example, described Michigan's newly elected Republican Senator, Zachariah Chandler, as "a preposterous ignoramus . . "42 Whatever their defects, the party editors were seldom dull, and few households lacked at least a weekly newspaper of their preferred political stripe. Finally, antebellum politics was almost inseparable from other aspects of American culture.

Chase forced him to resign. 36 In frontier California, where the influx of gold-rush adventurers and the resort to vigilante justice were vivid episodes in its recent past, public corruption remained a persistent problem in state and local politics. " The malfeasances of officeholders, observed a Sacramento editor, had given California "a name and a reputation . . " The immediate cause of public indignation was the exposure of fiscal irregularities by the state treasurer and controller, both of whom were impeached and forced out of office.

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