Politics and America in Crisis
The Coming of the Civil War
by Michael S. Green
December 2009, 190pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99095-4
$64, £48, 56€, A87
eBook Available: 978-0-313-08174-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

From the end of the Mexican-American War to the first shots at Fort Sumter, the United States slowly and inexorably moved toward civil conflict. A series of escalating showdowns over slavery in the voting booth, the courtroom, and in the public mind made war between two culturally incompatible halves of the nation inevitable.

This book unravels the political developments that made the Civil War unavoidable.

Politics and America in Crisis: The Coming of the Civil War examines the developments between 1846 and 1861 that pushed the nation to war to see what they reveal about the North, the South, the people leading them, and the issues separating them.

As shown here, in the decade and a half before the actual outbreak of the war, the mostly southern Democratic Party’s fortunes veered from a presidential election victory in 1852 to the shocking loss of Abraham Lincoln in 1860—an event that marked the coming of age of the young antislavery Republican Party. In examining that sharp reversal, Politics and America in Crisis covers a wide range of key events, including efforts to ban slavery in territories won in the Mexican-American War, the Dred Scott decision, and John Brown’s raids.

Michael S. Green is professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the author of Freedom, Union, and Power: Lincoln and His Party during the Civil War, and has written numerous books and articles on 19th-century America and Western history.


Outstanding Academic Title, 2010—Choice, January 1, 2011


"As the author says, his book is intended for undergraduates and general readers, but drawing on the best new scholarship, it is thorough enough to be useful to graduate students and teachers as well. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice, October 1, 2010

"Dramatic political clashes between antislavery and proslavery forces characterized the United States as it moved toward Civil War. Michael S. Green’s fast-paced narrative of this prewar struggle combines a comprehensive understanding of the divisive forces at work with insightful portraits of leading figures. This is a book that will appeal to anyone with an interest in the events that brought on America’s most important war."—Stanley Harrold, author of The Rise of Aggressive Abolitionism: Addresses to the Slaves

"This expert and engaging account of the coming of the Civil War brings the sectional conflict to life. Covering all the major political events of the 1850s—including the literary and social events that became political—Michael Green's account focuses on the people creating the crisis: men determined to promote their own vision of the nation and convinced that their opponents were traitors. This well-written history of the 1850s shows how the struggle to keep slavery out of the West became not only the tinder for the Civil War, but also a fight over the soul of America." —Heather Cox Richardson, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War
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