Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877
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Dazzling in scope, Ecstatic Nation illuminates one of the most dramatic and momentous chapters in America's past, when the country dreamed big, craved new lands and new freedom, and was bitterly divided over its great moral wrong: slavery.
With a canvas of extraordinary characters, such as P. T. Barnum, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and L. C. Q. Lamar, Ecstatic Nation brilliantly balances cultural and political history: It's a riveting account of the sectional conflict that preceded the Civil War, and it astutely chronicles the complex aftermath of that war and Reconstruction, including the promise that women would share in a new definition of American citizenship. It takes us from photographic surveys of the Sierra Nevadas to the discovery of gold in the South Dakota hills, and it signals the painful, thrilling birth of modern America.
An epic tale by award-winning author Brenda Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation lyrically and with true originality captures the optimism, the failures, and the tragic exuberance of a renewed Republic.
Stephen Douglas. Initially, he had supported secession (let the erring sisters go), but then he had urged in his paper that the untried bluecoats march “On to Richmond” before the First Battle of Bull Run. Though not directly responsible for the rallying cry—his associate Charles Dana had approved the headline in Greeley’s absence—Greeley acknowledged that the buck did stop with him. He was thus a man of parts. His “Prayer of Twenty Millions,” published in 1862, had been a plea for emancipation.
He wore civilian clothes: For most of the description of Forrest, see John A. Wyeth, Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1899), 628–29. 560 “a typical pioneer”: Lafcadio Hearn, Occidental Gleanings, vol. 1 (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1925), 146. 560 “If they send”: Quoted in Charles Royster, “Slaver, General, Klansman,” The Atlantic Monthly 271 (May 1993), 126. 561 “Nothing interferes more”: “In Light of Conciliation,” The New York Times, Oct. 31, 1877, 4.
reinforcements that never came. The day after Christmas 1860, Major Anderson ordered his men to put on their knapsacks and paddle across the water from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, the sturdier stronghold, where he could better protect his troops and defend the Stars and Stripes, if it should come to that. To Anderson, there was no choice; this move had to be made if he were to do his duty as he saw fit. South Carolinians were furious. Assuming that Buchanan had secretly told them, or at least
do us good, it should not harm; / Where work is to be done, ’tis well to know / Its full extent.” Readers were also reminded that although volunteers were registering for service by state, they would soon enter a national army, where the term of service was now three years, not three months; and that though many officers would continue to be appointed only because of their political or social connections, more and more of them would be appointed because of their army training or experience. The
argument about slavery: that in case of war, military emancipation of slaves was constitutional and proper: “From the instant your slave-holding states become a theater of war—civil, servile, or foreign,” Adams had declared in 1836, “—from that instant the war powers of the Constitution extend interference with the institution of slavery in every way that it can be interfered with.” Lincoln did not seize on Adams’s idea, which would have been politically disastrous both for himself and the Union