When It Was Grand: The Radical Republican History of the Civil War

When It Was Grand: The Radical Republican History of the Civil War

by LeeAnna Keith


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A group biography of the activists who defended human rights and defined the Republican Party’s greatest hour

In 1862, the ardent abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison summarized the events that were tearing apart the United States: “There is a war because there was a Republican Party. There was a Republican Party because there was an Abolition Party. There was an Abolition Party because there was Slavery.”

Garrison’s simple statement expresses the essential truths at the heart of LeeAnna Keith’s When It Was Grand. Here is the full story, dramatically told, of the Radical Republicans—the champions of abolition who helped found a new political party and turn it toward the extirpation of slavery. Keith introduces us to the idealistic Massachusetts preachers and philanthropists, rugged Midwestern politicians, and African American activists who collaborated to protect escaped slaves from their captors, to create and defend black military regiments and win the contest for the soul of their party. Keith’s fast-paced, deeply researched narrative gives us new perspective on figures ranging from Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Brown, to the gruff antislavery general John Fremont and his astute wife, Jessie Benton Fremont, and the radicals’ sometime critic and sometime partner Abraham Lincoln.

In the 1850s and 1860s, a powerful faction of the Republican Party stood for a demanding ideal of racial justice—and insisted that their party and nation live up to it. Here is a colorful, definitive account of their indelible accomplishment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809080311
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 01/14/2020
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 248,745
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

LeeAnna Keith teaches history at the Collegiate School for Boys in New York City. She is the author of The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Great Old Party 3

Part 1 Warriors Before the War

1 Filibustering in Kansas 11

2 The Antislavery Resistance 31

3 Transcendental Politics 44

4 Free Soil, Free Men, Fremont 53

5 Dred Scott Nullification 60

6 John Brownish 74

7 House Divided 88

8 Harpers Ferry 101

9 Wide Awake 119

Part II The War Tears

10 Military Emancipation 133

11 Wolf Killers 149

12 Arming African Americans 166

13 Turning the Mississippi 181

14 Revolution by Confiscation 197

15 Republican Nation-Building 216

16 Never Surrender The Flag 230

17 Wearing the Brass Letter 248

18 Black Republicans 267

Postscript: Age of Transcendence 287

Notes 293

Acknowledgments 325

Index 327

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