Winner of the Lincoln Prize. "Oakes brilliantly succeeds in [clarifying] the aims of the war with a wholly new perspective."--David Brion Davis, New York Review of Books Freedom National is a groundbreaking history of emancipation that joins the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. It shatters the widespread conviction that the Civil War was first and foremost a war to restore the Union and only gradually, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. These two aims--"Liberty and Union, one and inseparable"--were intertwined in Republican policy from the very start of the war. By summer 1861 the federal government invoked military authority to begin freeing slaves, immediately and without slaveholder compensation, as they fled to Union lines in the disloyal South. In the loyal Border States the Republicans tried coaxing officials into gradual abolition with promises of compensation and the colonization abroad of freed blacks. James Oakes shows that Lincoln's landmark 1863 proclamation marked neither the beginning nor the end of emancipation: it triggered a more aggressive phase of military emancipation, sending Union soldiers onto plantations to entice slaves away and enlist the men in the army. But slavery proved deeply entrenched, with slaveholders determined to re-enslave freedmen left behind the shifting Union lines. Lincoln feared that the war could end in Union victory with slavery still intact. The Thirteenth Amendment that so succinctly abolished slavery was no formality: it was the final act in a saga of immense war, social upheaval, and determined political leadership. Fresh and compelling, this magisterial history offers a new understanding of the death of slavery and the rebirth of a nation.
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.
The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politicsby James Oakes
"A great American tale told with a deft historical eye, painstaking analysis, and a supple clarity of writing."--Jean Baker "My husband considered you a dear friend," Mary Todd Lincoln wrote to Frederick Douglass in the weeks after Lincoln's assassination. The frontier lawyer and the former slave, the cautious politician and the fiery reformer, the President and the most famous black man in America--their lives traced different paths that finally met in the bloody landscape of secession, Civil War, and emancipation. Opponents at first, they gradually became allies, each influenced by and attracted to the other. Their three meetings in the White House signaled a profound shift in the direction of the Civil War, and in the fate of the United States. James Oakes has written a masterful narrative history, bringing two iconic figures to life and shedding new light on the central issues of slavery, race, and equality in Civil War America.
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.
A Washington Post Notable Work of Nonfiction for 2014. The image of a scorpion surrounded by a ring of fire, stinging itself to death, was widespread among antislavery leaders before the Civil War. It captures their long-standing strategy for peaceful abolition: they would surround the slave states with a cordon of freedom, constricting slavery and inducing the social crisis in which the peculiar institution would die. The image opens a fresh perspective on antislavery and the coming of the Civil War, brilliantly explored here by one of our greatest historians of the period.
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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