What if Texas had remained independent? What if the Mexican War had turned out differently and the question of slavery had remained dormant? What if the Lincoln-Douglas debates had not propelled Abraham Lincoln into the national spotlight? What if the United States had peacefully divided into two nations instead of engaging in civil war? These scenarios represent the road not taken in American history. But what if we’d chosen differently?
In this unique reference, leading historians describe not only how the expansion of the American nation in the early 19th century was a turning point in U.S. history that led to the Civil War, but also alternative scenarios—what happened and what almost happened.
This volume poses “what if” questions about ten crucial “tipping points” in the history of U.S. expansionism between 1800 and the Civil War. It not only describes what happened—in the case of Lewis and Clark, the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, railroads and telegraphs, the Mexican War, the gold rush, the Compromise of 1850—it also offers alternative scenarios, essays on what could have happened.
In this exciting and imaginative approach to history, students not only develop analytical skills by tracing the causes and effects of crucial events; they are empowered by the knowledge that at moments when history hangs in the balance, many paths are possible, and that they, as citizens, can tip the scale.
Features • Each chapter presents the actual history along with a "what if" scenario of what may have happened had a crucial point turned out differently • Primary sources include the complete text of one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and a chronology details key events during the Era of Expansion
Highlights • Presents actual history along with alternate history scenarios, covering American history from the early 1800s to the Civil War • An exceptional teaching tool to stir students' interest in history and how their world today could have been very different • Demonstrates how small changes in key facts can result in large changes in history
Rodney P. Carlisle, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, and vice president of History Associates Incorporated, Rockville, MD. His published works include the Encyclopedia of Politics and the Encyclopedia of Invention and Discovery.
J. Geoffrey Golson is president and editor of Golson Books, Ltd., Croton-on-Hudson, NY. His published works include the Encyclopedia of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and the four volumes in ABC-CLIO's Popular Controversies in World History.