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Of the People: A History of the United States not only tells the history of America--of its people and places, of its dealings and ideals--but it also unfolds the story of American democracy, carefully marking how this country's evolution has been anything but certain, from its complex beginnings to its modern challenges. This comprehensive survey focuses on the social and political lives of people--some famous, some ordinary--revealing the compelling story of America's democracy from an individual perspective, from across the landscapes of diverse communities, and ultimately from within the larger context of the world. Volume I: to 1877 covers the worlds of the Indian peoples and the arrival of the first Europeans, through emancipation and Reconstruction in the late nineteenth century. Visit the companion website at www.oup.com/us/ofthepeople for more information and resources for instructors and students.
This pathbreaking social history of the slaveholding South marks a turn in our understanding of antebellum America and the coming of the Civil War. Oakes's bracing analysis breaks the myth that slaveholders were a paternalistic aristocracy dedicated to the values of honor, race, and section. Instead they emerge as having much in common with their entrepreneurial counterparts in the North: they were committed to free-market commercialism and political democracy for white males. The Civil War was not an inevitable conflict between civilizations on different paths but the crack-up of a single system, the result of people and events.
This pathbreaking interpretation of the slaveholding South begins with the insight that slavery and freedom were not mutually exclusive but were intertwined in every dimension of life in the South. James Oakes traces the implications of this insight for relations between masters and slaves, slaveholders and non-slaveholders, and for the rise of a racist ideology.
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