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Why the Civil War Came by Gabor S. Boritt
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Why the Civil War Came

by Gabor S. Boritt

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This is one of the collections of essays presented at the annual Gettysburg lectures at Gettysburg College in November. This group of papers is focused on the coming of the Civil War and the contributions of those who failed to stop it. Topics range from Lincoln's role, the failure of the political system, the roles of women and African-Americans, and the relief that followed the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

The topics were all interesting, and tended to be aimed at a scholarly audience-though many who attend the Gettysburg lectures tend to be a more general audience. I found Boritt's essay, and his failure to anticipate the drift toward war interesting. Charles Royster's article on the collective relief after the Sumter bombardment also interesting. The long William Freehling article was the most difficult to follow.

In any case, the topics were useful, and I learned a lot. ( )
  ksmyth | Oct 21, 2008 |
Civil War/U.S.
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0195113764, Paperback)

In the early morning of April 12, 1861, Captain George S. James ordered the bombardment of Fort Sumter, beginning a war that would last four horrific years and claim a staggering number of lives. Since that fateful day, the debate over the causes of the American Civil War has never ceased. What events were instrumental in bringing it about? How did individuals and institutions function? What did Northerners and Southerners believe in the decades of strife preceding the war? What steps did they take to avoid war? Indeed, was the great armed conflict avoidable at all?
Why the Civil War Came brings a talented chorus of voices together to recapture the feel of a very different time and place, helping the reader to grasp more fully the commencement of our bloodiest war. From William W. Freehling's discussion of the peculiarities of North American slavery to Charles Royster's disturbing piece on the combatants' savage readiness to fight, the contributors bring to life the climate of a country on the brink of disaster. Mark Summers, for instance, depicts the tragically jubilant first weeks of Northern recruitment, when Americans on both sides were as yet unaware of the hellish slaughter that awaited them. Glenna Matthews underscores the important war-catalyzing role played by extraordinary public women, who proved that neither side of the Mason-Dixon line was as patriarchal as is thought. David Blight reveals an African-American world that "knew what time it was," and welcomed war. And Gabor Boritt examines the struggle's central figure, Lincoln himself, illuminating in the years leading up to the war a blindness on the future president's part, an unwillingness to confront the looming calamity that was about to smash the nation asunder.
William E. Gienapp notes perhaps the most unsettling fact about the Civil War, that democratic institutions could not resolve the slavery issue without resorting to violence on an epic scale. With gripping detail, Why the Civil War Came takes readers back to a country fraught with bitterness, confusion, and hatred--a country ripe for a war of unprecedented bloodshed--to show why democracy failed, and violence reigned.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:39 -0400)

In the early morning of April 12, 1861, Captain George S. James ordered the bombardment of Fort Sumter, beginning a war that would last four horrific years and claim a staggering number of lives. Since that fateful day, the debate over the causes of the American Civil War has never ceased. What events were instrumental in bringing it about? How did individuals and institutions function? What did Northerners and Southerners believe in the decades of strife preceding the war? What steps did they take to avoid war? Indeed, was the great armed conflict avoidable at all? Why the Civil War Came brin.… (more)

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