Gotham at War: New York City, 1860-1865 (American Crisis Series) / Edition 1

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Overview

Gotham at War is an accessible, entertaining account of America's biggest and most powerful urban center during the Civil War. New York City mobilized an enthusiastic but poorly trained military force during the first month of the war that helped protect Washington, D.C., from Confederate capture. Its strong financial support for the national government may well have saved the Union. New York served as a center for manpower, military supplies, and shipbuilding. And medically, New York became a center for efforts to provide for sick and wounded soldiers. Yet, despite being a major Northern city, New York also had strong sympathy for the South. Parts of the city were strongly racist, hostile to the abolition of slavery and to any real freedom for black Americans. The hostility of many New Yorkers to the military draft culminated in one of the greatest of all urban upheavals, the draft riots of July 1863. Edward K. Spann brings his experience as an urban historian to provide insights on both the varied ways in which the war affected the city and the ways in which the city's people and industry influenced the divided nation. This is the first book to assess the city's contributions to the Civil War. Gotham at War examines the different sides of the city as some fought to sustain the Union while others opposed the war effort and sided with the South. This unique book will entertain all readers interested in the Civil War and New York City. About the Author Edward K. Spann is professor emeritus of history at Indiana State University. He is a specialist in nineteenth-century history and urban history. Spann has authored a number of books, including The New Metropolis: New York City 1840-1857 and Ideals and Politics: New York Intellectuals and Liberal Democracy, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
An extremely readable overview of NYC's contributions to and experiences during the US Civil War.
Library Journal
Although its inhabitants were not uniform in opinion, New York City nevertheless played a major role in the Civil War. Spann (history, emeritus, Indiana State Univ.; Metropolis: New York City, 1840-1857) discusses the important part that the city played in the war, from sending a force to defend Washington, DC, against Confederate capture in the spring of 1861 to ultimate Union victory in April 1865. New York was ever present as a center of military manpower, the source of strong financial support, and a center of military supplies and naval shipbuilding. But New York also had strong Southern sympathies and commercial interests based on prewar business dealings with Southern plantation owners. As became clear in the terrible draft riots of 1863, many New Yorkers also held violently racist views and were hostile to the draft and to the abolition of slavery. Spann provides welcome insight into these matters in a clear, workmanlike writing style. Recommended for New York City and Civil War collections of academic libraries.-Harry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Edward K. Spann is emeritus professor of history and distinguished professor in arts and sciences at Indiana State University.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Road to War, 1860-61 Chapter 2 Patriotism in Action, 1861 Chapter 3 War on the Sea Chapter 4 The Business of Supply Chapter 5 Mobilization for Real Chapter 6 Tender Mercies Chapter 7 A Democratic World Chapter 8 Riots and Relief Chapter 9 The Ethnic Dimension Chapter 10 The Race Angle Chapter 11 Rebuilding Prosperity Chapter 12 Wealth and Its Exceptions Chapter 13 A Threatening World Chapter 14 The Politics of War and Peace Chapter 15 The Manpower Business Chapter 16 Victory and Beyond Chapter 17 Epilogue: A World Restored

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2003

    The Northernmost Southern City

    The powerful yet puzzling role that New York City played during the Civil War has long been an unnecessarily neglected subject in the City's--and the Nation's--history. Professor Spann's book fills that void. Because of its powerful financial ties to the South's cotton industry, as well as its immigrants' fierce mistrust of emancipation, the City was undoubtedly the 'northernmost southern city'. On the other side of the coin, New York City stood to make fortunes on the war industry, and the Republican controlled State government was going to do its best to support the Union's effort. Because of these facts, the City was doomed to tear itself apart over and again throughout the conflict: the Draft Riots of 1863 being the most famous incarnation. Professor Spann's book not only covers these crucial elements, but features many others: the power of a manipulative press, the efficient rabble-rousing on both sides of the issue, the paranoia, the race/class/ethnic tensions, etc. So, why four stars instead of five? Purely subjective reasons. First, the book makes several references to other works in order to just shoot them down. (The air of superiority crops up too often.) Also Professor Spann makes the point, several times, that the press--and the diaries of George Templeton Strong--were strongly biased and unreliable. Yet, the author often cites these works to shore up some of his arguments. I'm sure Professor Spann has a reason to trust certain articles or entries, I only wished I had. Still, this is a great read and a fascinating history that deserves attention.

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