Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia / Edition 1

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Overview

"Scholars have long known that African Americans in the antebellum South vigorously resisted slaveholder control, but less has been known about how slave resistance shaped antebellum politics. Roots of Secession examines the relationship between Virginia's political system and its restive slave population during the turbulent decade leading up to the war. Using recent scholarship on slave resistance, William Link reconsiders the politics of secession in Virginia, placing African Americans at the center of the story. Arguing that their acts of defiance and rebellion had powerful repercussions throughout this critical period, he provides the first thorough political history of Virginia's secession in nearly seventy years." An upper South state with nearly half a million slaves - more than any other state in the nation - and some 50,000 free blacks, Virginia witnessed a uniquely volatile convergence of slave resistance and electoral politics in the 1850s. While masters struggled with slaves, disunionists sought to join a regionwide effort to secede and moderates sought to protect slavery but remain in the Union. Suggesting a broader definition of political action, Link shows that the coming of the Civil War was directly connected to Virginia's system of slavery, as the tension between defiant slaves and anxious slaveholders energized Virginia politics and spurred on the impending sectional crisis.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Link's analysis is clear and thought-provoking. . . . A compelling argument that does, indeed, place slaves at the center of political sectionalism. . . . Deepens and complicates our notion of political culture and the roots of secession. "
Civil War History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807827710
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2003
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

William A. Link is Richard J. Milbauer Professor of History at the University of Florida. His previous books include William Friday: Power, Purpose, and American Higher Education; A Hard Country and a Lonely Place: Schooling, Society, and Reform in Rural Virginia, 1870-1920; and The Paradox of Southern Progressivism, 1880-1930.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Prologue: To Make Ourselves Slaves, That You Might Defend Yours: Slavery and Constitutional Reform 11
Ch. 1 A Slave Society: Virginia in the 1850s 29
Ch. 2 Boastful and Belligerent Champions of Southern Institutions: Slavery and Politics, 1851-1854 63
Ch. 3 A Uniform Spirit of Lawlessness: The Problem of Runaways 97
Ch. 4 A Spirit of License in the Guise of Liberty: The Survival of Opposition, 1854-1856 121
Ch. 5 The Darkest and Most Perilous Hours of Our National Existence: The Deepening Sectional Crisis, 1856-1859 149
Ch. 6 A Black Demon of Fanaticism: Harpers Ferry and the Election of 1860 177
Ch. 7 To Light the Torch of Servile Insurrection: The Secession Crisis 213
Epilogue: The Rending of Virginia 245
Notes 255
Bibliography 353
Index 373
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