Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Road to Disunion II: Secessionists Triumphant

This is as much a note to myself as anything else, but I'll dress it up with some background information to make it bloggishly useful.

If you are at all interested the causes of the Civil War -- or more accurately the causes of secession -- the first book you should read is David Potter's
The Impending Crisis 1848-1861. The second book you should read is William Freehling's The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at Bay 1776-1854. Although Professor Freehling's writing style is poor, the book is nonethless wonderful.

I have been waiting for the sequel for years. Last summer, word came that Volume II would be published this coming March. The Oxford University Press site indicates that March 2007 remains on track as the publication date for
The Road to Disunion: Secessionists Triumphant 1854-1861. This will be one of the few books that I will buy in hardcover, new and at full price. The advance reviews at the OUP site give a taste of the themes in Secessionists Triumphant. You can also take a look here at an address that Professor Freehling gave back in 2000, entitled "South Carolina's Pivotal Decision for Disunion: Popular Mandate or Manipulated Verdict?", which presumably figures prominently in his narrative.

Volume II should be particularly interesting because Professor Freehling's apparent thesis -- that secession was largely manipulated by southern radicals -- is controversial. In this, it seems to bear some similarities to the arguments of Michael F. Holt. Some other historians, such as Stephanie McCurrie in her superb
Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Housholds, Gender Relations, and the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country, have noted that there were organized elements in the push for secession in lower southern states. Others, such as H. Mills Thornton III, in his Politics and Power in a Slave Society: Alabama 1800-1860 and Lacy K. Ford, in his Origins of Southern Radicalism: The South Carolina Upcountry 1800-1860, have emphasized that secession was popular among white farming yeomen in the deep south precisely because it was rooted in fundamental values of white male freedom and equality. I do not regard these views as mutually exclusive and look forward to seeing whether and how Professor Freehling attempts to reconcile them.

The "note to myself" part of this entry is that I see that
the Civil War Roundtable of New York will be hosting a talk by Professor Freehling on March 14, 2007. Frankly, I didn't even know that such a Roundtable existed. I've never looked for a local Civil War roundtable because I have the impression, or perhaps misimpression, that roundtables do nothing but sit around and rehash Pickett's Charge for the ten-thousandth time.

I guess I'll find out whether I am mistaken or not. I've already got March 14 reserved on my calendar. If you're in the New York City area, you should consider doing the same.

Somewhat Related Earlier Post on McCurrie, Thornton and Ford:

The Causes of Secession in the Lower South

1 comment:

  1. The Impending Crisis is a fabulous book!


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