Copperheads: The Rise and Fall of Lincoln's Opponents in the North

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Overview

The Northern home-front during the Civil War was far from tranquil. Fierce political debates set communities on edge, spurred secret plots against the Union, and triggered widespread violence. At the heart of all this turmoil stood the anti-war Democrats, nicknamed "Copperheads."

Now, Jennifer L. Weber offers the first full-length portrait of this powerful faction to appear in almost half a century. Weber reveals how the Copperheads came perilously close to defeating Lincoln and ending the war in the South's favor. Indeed, by the summer of 1864, they had grown so strong that Lincoln himself thought his defeat was "exceedingly likely." Passionate defenders of civil liberties and states' rights—and often virulent racists—the Copperheads deplored Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, his liberal interpretation of the Constitution, and, most vehemently, his moves toward emancipation. Weber reveals how the battle over these issues grew so heated that Northerners feared their neighbors would destroy their livestock, burn their homes, even kill them. And she illuminates the role of Union soldiers, who, furious at Copperhead attacks on the war effort, moved firmly behind Lincoln. The soldiers' support for the embattled president kept him alive politically in his darkest times, and their victories on the battlefield secured his re-election.

Packed with sharp observation and fresh interpretations, Copperheads is a gripping account of the fierce dissent that Lincoln called "the fire in the rear."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An excellent starting point for specialists and nonspecialists alike who want to understand the very real challenges to the Lincoln administration."—Sean Nalty, Virginia Quarterly Review

"Readers will find this an engaging and enjoyable book that covers the central issues and characters."—Peter Knupfer, Journal of Illinois History

"A fine narrative history."—Phillip Shaw Paludan, Journal of Military History

"Perhaps the greatest contribution that this book will make is to encourage historians to reevaluate their comfortable notion that dissenters were marginal and that the 'peace wing' of the Democratic Party not a real threat. Weber has rendered magnificent service to Civil War historians by reminding us of that fact."-Adam I.P. Smith American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195341249
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 891,902
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer L. Weber was a newspaper journalist before becoming an academic historian. She is now Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kansas.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. In the Shadows
2. The Gathering Storm
3. When Will This Cruel War Be Over?
4. The Battle Behind the Lines
5. The Summer of Lincoln's Discontent
6. The Rise and Fall of the Copperheads
7. "Faction in the Civil War Is Unmitigated Treason"
8. Defeated
Abbreviations Used in Notes
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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