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

By Kenneth M. Stampp

It used to be a yr filled with unsettling occasions. The Panic of 1857 closed each financial institution in ny urban, ruined millions of companies, and brought on common unemployment between commercial staff. The Mormons in Utah Territory threatened uprising whilst federal troops approached with a non-Mormon governor to exchange Brigham younger. The very best courtroom outraged northern Republicans and abolitionists with the Dred Scott choice ("a breathtaking instance of judicial activism"). And whilst a proslavery minority in Kansas Territory attempted to foist a proslavery structure on a wide antislavery majority, President Buchanan reneged on an important dedication and supported the minority, a disastrous miscalculation which eventually break up the Democratic get together in . In the US in 1857, eminent American historian Kenneth Stampp deals a sweeping narrative of this eventful 12 months, overlaying the entire significant crises whereas delivering readers with a bright portrait of the US at mid-century. Stampp provides us a desirable account of the try through William Walker and his band of filibusters to overcome Nicaragua and make it a slave nation, of crime and corruption, and of highway riots by means of city gangs comparable to New York's lifeless Rabbits and Bowery Boys and Baltimore's Plug Uglies and Blood Tubs. however the concentration constantly returns to Kansas. He examines the outrageous political frauds perpetrated through proslavery Kansans, Buchanan's calamitous reaction and Stephen Douglas's holiday with the President (a infrequent occasion in American politics, a massive social gathering chief repudiating the president he helped elect), and the whirl of congressional votes and dramatic debates that resulted in a cost humiliating to Buchanan--and devastating to the Democrats. 1857 marked a turning aspect, at which sectional clash spun uncontrolled and the rustic moved speedily towards the ultimate violent answer within the Civil warfare. Stampp's intensely concentrated examine this pivotal yr illuminates the forces at paintings and the temper of the kingdom because it plummeted towards catastrophe.

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He had also agreed to procure the passage of a bill for government purchase of copies of a book on pension and bounty land laws and to divide the proceeds with the author. William W. Welch, a Connecticut Republican, was accused of involvement in Gilbert's book-purchase scheme and of demanding payment for supporting a private pension claim. Orsamus B. Matteson, another New York Republican and a thorough scoundrel, had procured "a large sum of money and other valuable considerations" for the passage of the Iowa land bill.

The result of a low tariff, Representative Amos Granger of New York predicted, would be "another financial crash. "13 Both protectionists and free-traders claimed to hold the keys to prosperity and continued economic growth. Behind the ideologues stood the myriad economic interests whose welfare depended, often quite critically, on the schedules of duties, and whose conflicting demands made the writing of a tariff bill that satisfied all producers and consumers well-nigh impossible. The Tariff of 1857 was no exception.

In Virginia, freight and passenger trains were unable to move for almost a week. " In the North Carolina 34 AMERICA IN 1857 piedmont the temperature fell to two degrees below zero, and snow drifts were as deep as six feet. '"47 With the bad weather came an increase in colds, pneumonia, and other respiratory ailments for which physicians still frequently prescribed the traditional heroic remedies of bleeding, blistering, and violent purging. Descriptions of amazing new patent-medicine panaceas filled the advertising pages of every newspaper, claiming cures for these and all other human afflictions.

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