Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877

Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877

Brenda Wineapple

Language: English

Pages: 623

ISBN: 0061234583

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

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to patch together a third political party, which they called the Radical Democratic Party, in the hope of attracting disillusioned War Democrats as well as disillusioned Radical Republicans to a platform more radical than any offered by Lincoln and moderates. That is, their platform pledged to prosecute the war without compromise, to safeguard the First Amendment and the writ of habeas corpus, to push for constitutional amendments abolishing slavery and protecting civil rights, and to recommend a

president Hannibal Hamlin, who happened to be in New Orleans that day, said, “I have seen death on the battlefield but time will erase the effects of that, the wholesale slaughter and the little regard paid to human life I witnessed here on the 30 of July I shall never forget.” A reporter cried in horror, “It is ‘Memphis’ ” all over again. Memphis, early May, same year, 1866: During three days of violence, forty-six black men and women and two white men had been killed, and five black women had

old, old story of murder, intimidation, and proscriptive oppression.” To him, their grievances against secret organizations, miscounted votes, intimidated voters, and former Confederates unfairly unseated in government were just tired tales, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Rather, the black men in the South Carolina legislature, for example, were at fault; they were a “mass of ignorance and barbarism” who, despite the existence of a “few intelligent colored people,” were basically

TO RICHMOND 197 “We learned once for all”: James Russell Lowell, “Democracy: Inaugural Address on Assuming the Presidency of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham, England, 6 October, 1884,” in The Complete Writings of James Russell Lowell, vol. 6, ed. Charles Eliot Norton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1904), 24. 198 “Events are crowding”: CG, 36th Congress, 2nd session, December 18, 1860, 116. 198 “moral anachronism”: Kenneth Stampp, The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of

“we forget there”: Chesnut, Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, 428. 253 “lamentable incapacity”: William J. Cooper, Jr., Jefferson Davis, American (New York: Vintage, 2001), 411. 253 “the mob”: Chesnut, Mary Chesnut’s Civil War, 288. 254 There were some exceptions: See Albert Burton Moore, Conscription and Conflict in the Confederacy (New York: Hillary House, 1963). 254 Twenty Negro Act: Thomas, The Confederate Nation, 1861–1865, 134. 254 “bloodless spade”: “A Cry to Arms,” Charleston Mercury and

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