What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

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by Daniel Walker Howe
     
 

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In this addition to the esteemed Oxford history series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era of revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. He examines the era’s politics but contends that John

Overview

In this addition to the esteemed Oxford history series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era of revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. He examines the era’s politics but contends that John Quincy Adams and other advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African Americans were the true prophets of America’s future. He reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women’s rights, and other reform movements. Howe’s panoramic narrative—weaving social, economic, and cultural history together with political and military events—culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war against Mexico that gained California and Texas for the United States.

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Howe brings an impressive array of strengths to the daunting task of encapsulating these busy, complicated three-plus decades within a single (admittedly, very long) volume. Emeritus professor of history at Oxford and UCLA, he grasps the meaning as well as the details of developments and events. He has a fine eye for telling detail…and for the revealing quotation. Beyond that, he is a genuine rarity: an English intellectual who not merely writes about the United States but actually understands it.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In the latest installment in the Oxford History of the United States series, historian Howe, professor emeritus at Oxford University and UCLA (The Political Culture of the American Whigs), stylishly narrates a crucial period in U.S. history-a time of territorial growth, religious revival, booming industrialization, a recalibrating of American democracy and the rise of nationalist sentiment. Smaller but no less important stories run through the account: New York's gradual emancipation of slaves; the growth of higher education; the rise of the temperance movement (all classes, even ministers, imbibed heavily, Howe says). Howe also charts developments in literature, focusing not just on Thoreau and Poe but on such forgotten writers as William Gilmore Simms of South Carolina, who "helped create the romantic image of the Old South," but whose proslavery views eventually brought his work into disrepute. Howe dodges some of the shibboleths of historical literature, for example, refusing to describe these decades as representing a "market revolution" because a market economy already existed in 18th-century America. Supported by engaging prose, Howe's achievement will surely be seen as one of the most outstanding syntheses of U.S. history published this decade. 30 photos, 6 maps. (Sept.)

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Library Journal

This authoritative addition to Oxford's "History of the United States" series is a product of synthesis and astute analysis. Intellectual and cultural historian Howe (Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln) touches upon the rapidly expanding nation's economy, foreign relations, and social structures, taking into account race, gender, and ethnicity, and bringing special insights to his discussion of religious revivals and the evolution of moral consciousness, reform movements, and political institutions. The evocative title, which was the first message carried by Morse's telegraph, refers to the changes wrought by religious sensibilities as well as those wrought by technological breakthroughs. Howe boldly emphasizes the "communications revolution" rather than the "market revolution" of the early 19th century, asserting that the latter largely happened among 18th-century commercial farmers. On the other hand, he does not emphasize a "Jacksonian America." Andrew Jackson, he asserts, was not as uniformly democratic or influential as his supporters maintain. A worthy addition to public and academic institutions; beginning scholars will appreciate the maps and the extensive bibliographic essay, fleshed out by the journal citations in the footnotes. Highly recommended.
—Frederick J. Augustyn

From the Publisher
"What Daniel Walker Howe hath wrought is a wonderfully mind-opening interpretation of America on the cusp of modernity and might."—George F. Will, National Review Online

"What Hath God Wrought is the dazzling culmination of the author's lifetime of distinguished scholarship.... The sustained quality of Howe's prose makes it even harder to put down a volume whose sheer weight makes it hard to pick up.... What Hath God Wrought lays powerful claim to being the best work ever written on this period of the American past."—Richard Carwardine, The Journal of Southern History

"Howe knows his era as well as any historian living, and he generously instructs his readers with detailed expertise and crisp generalizations."—John Lauritz Larson, The Journal of American History

"What Hath God Wrought is a feat worth applauding no matter what omissions will occur to every specialist in any facet of early national America."—Scott E. Casper, Reviews in American History

"Howe is a skillful storyteller who knows how to choose relevant anecdotes and revealing quotations. Both general readers and professional historians can benefit from the book. It can be read with pleasure from cover to cover."—Thomas Tandy Lewis, Magill's Literary Annual

"One of the best lessons offered by Howe's book comes in his refusal to view the period of 1815 to 1848 in anything other than its own terms. He never reduces the early part of the book to an analysis of how developments succeeded or failed the hopes of the 'founders.' Nor does he ever treat political and social developments as though they launched the United States on a high road to the Civil War.... Precisely because of this clear-eyed vision of the antebellum period, Civil War historians will want to take a fresh look back at howe's picture of the United States in a constant state of change."—Sarah J. Purcell, Civil War Book Review

"I like to have a heavy tome to calm me down at the end of the day. This is almost as big as a pathology book, but really well written."—Robin Cook

"A comprehensive, richly detailed, and elegantly written account of the republic between the War of 1812 and the American victory in Mexico a generation later...a masterpiece."—The Atlantic

"How's Pulitzer Prize-winning addition to the mulitvolume Oxford History of the United States is excellent in many ways, not least in the full attention it gives to the religious dynamics of American history in this period.... a very satisfying read."—The Christian Century

"Exemplary addition to the Oxford History of the United States... He is a genuine rarity...extraordinary."—Washington Post Book World

"One of the most outstanding syntheses of U.S. history published this decade."—Publishers Weekley starred review

"What Hath God Wrought is both a capacious narrative of a tumultuous era in American history and a heroic attempt at synthesizing a century and a half of historical writing about Jacksonian democracy, antebellum reform, and American expansion."—The New Yorker

"This extraordinary contribution to the Oxford History of the United States series is a great accomplishment by one of the United States' most distinguished historians.... It is, in short, everything a work of historical scholarship should be."—Foreign Affairs

"The book is a sweeping and monumental achievement that no student of American history should let go unread. Attentive to historiography yet writing accessible and engaging prose, Howe has produced the perfect introduction or reintroduction to an enormously important period in American national development."—American Heritage

"The best book on Jackson today."—Gordon Wood, Salt Lake Deseret Morning News

"Howe's book is the most comprehensive and persuasive modern account of America in what we might prefer hereafter to call the Age of Clay. It should be the standard work on the subject for many years to come."—American Nineteenth Century History

"Comprehensive and detailed... an excellent narrative history."—The California Territorial Quarterly

"There is simply too much of value in Howe's book to be even listed in the longest of reviews. The serious student of American history will want to read this book...This is a book worthy of a master of American history." —History News Network


Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781433260216
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
26
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 2.10(d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Cullen (a.k.a. John Lescault), a native of Massachusetts, is a graduate of the Catholic University of America. He lives in Washington, DC, where he works in theater.

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What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
rjpRP More than 1 year ago
This may be the single best political and cultural history of any American period that I've ever read, with emphasis on "cultural." The writing provides wonderful insight into the mood of America, into the religious, feminist and abolitionist movements of our country. The book dwells at length on the telling influence of new technology and the pivotal role that transportation and communication played in the development of the United States and ultimately the world. Most importantly, this is an honest story--it tells not only of our triumphs, but of America's greatest sins, our treatment of both Native Americans and African Americans. THis is a mnust read for anyone interested in American history.
gleyshull More than 1 year ago
A wealth of knowledge and insight about a period of time few people (including me) know much about. A worthy member of the Oxford American History series (although this is the only one I've read.)
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Braslow More than 1 year ago
Howe does a credible job of summarizing the history of the period. However, his knowledge and presentation of the Mexican War and Polk's goals is flawed, and misleading. In short, cutting throught all the political rhetoric of the time, and it was pretty partisan, one irreducable fact remains: Polk had the absolute duty as President to protect and defend the entire US. The Texian claim to the Rio Grande in fact did have a rational historical basis, no matter the current political correctness thinking to the contrary. It might not have been convincing beyond all reasonable doubt, but it was not an invention. Mexico did not contol the territory north of the Rio Grande, and was repulsed several times in attempts to re-take Texas. Once Texas was US territory, no matter the nature of the claim to the Rio Grande as the border, Polk had the consititutional duty to defend it. California is another issue, and can be justified under several sound international law doctrines in effect at the time. Howe ignores all this, and falls into the seductive historical trap of "presentism" as many historians do. The Texas border and California/New Mexico conquests illustrate that at an abstract purely historical level. Howe's presentism is far more blatant, and misleading, in his treatment of race--he repeatedly refers to actions by political parties and groups as "racist". What Howe forgets, or simply ignores as uncomfortable, is that the vast majority of Whites did not consider the Blacks as truely the equel of the whites, genetically or otherwise. It was an assumption of the time taken as an immutable fact of nature, and that was that. It was not racism as we think of it today, an unreasnonable and unjustified concept of discrimination. This distinction is critical, in that Howe makes our ancestors out to be unreasonable and immoral--which they were most certainly not. The subject deserves better treatment, and Howe does not come through with credit here. Otherwise, I did enjoy the book, but I could not suggest that it be used as a reliable secondary source. Howe simply does not present any new understanding or interpretation of the period such as to warrant its inclusion as a secondary source. However, Howe's bibliographical essay is very valuable in that Howe cites many original and seminal sources that can be used most profitably by the serious student. Norman T Braslow, J.D., Ph.D.
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