The Stormy Present: Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865

The Stormy Present: Conservatism and the Problem of Slavery in Northern Politics, 1846-1865

by Adam I. P. Smith

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In this engaging and nuanced political history of Northern communities in the Civil War era, Adam I. P. Smith offers a new interpretation of the familiar story of the path to war and ultimate victory. Smith looks beyond the political divisions between abolitionist Republicans and Copperhead Democrats to consider the everyday conservatism that characterized the majority of Northern voters. A sense of ongoing crisis in these Northern states created anxiety and instability, which manifested in a range of social and political tensions in individual communities.

In the face of such realities, Smith argues that a conservative impulse was more than just a historical or nostalgic tendency; it was fundamental to charting a path to the future. At stake for Northerners was their conception of the Union as the vanguard in a global struggle between democracy and despotism, and their ability to navigate their freedoms through the stormy waters of modernity. As a result, the language of conservatism was peculiarly, and revealingly, prominent in Northern politics during these years. The story this book tells is of conservative people coming, in the end, to accept radical change.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469633909
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 10/06/2017
Series: Civil War America
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 344
File size: 687 KB

About the Author

Adam I. P. Smith is the Edward Orsborn Professor of U.S. Politics and Political History at the University of Oxford and author of No Party Now: Politics in the Civil War North.

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From the Publisher

This brilliant, timely, and original book is a must-read for specialists and scholars of nineteenth-century U.S. History and American politics. Among his many contributions, Smith finds the sensible middle ground between conflicting interpretations of whether the Civil War was a war for abolition or for Union.—Elizabeth R. Varon, University of Virginia

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