Distinguished historian Orville Vernon Burton suggests that, while abolishing slavery was the age's most extraordinary accomplishment, it was the inscribing of personal liberty into the nation's millennial aspirations that was its most profound achievement.America had always perceived providence in its progress, but in the 1840s and 1850s, a pessimism accompanied a marked extremism. Even amidst historic political compromises, the middle ground collapsed.Burton shows how the president's authentic Southerness empowered him to conduct a civil war that redefined freedom as a personal right to be expanded to all Americans. While the extent of that freedom would be contested in the violent decades to follow, its centrality to the definition of the country would not.More
"For readers seeking to comprehend the sweeping social, religious and cultural backdrop to the Civil War, Burton's book is a worthy heir to Schlesinger's [The Age of Jackson]." (Publishers Weekly)
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