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Cover

The Civil War

A History in Documents

Rachel Filene Seidman

Publication Date - February 2001

ISBN: 9780195115581

208 pages
Hardcover
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $84.99

Rachel Seidman brings together an array of primary sources--the letters, diary entries, memoirs, and testimony of blacks, Native Americans, women, children, farmers, and foot soldiers--that bring the Civil War to life.

Description

The Civil War was not only a stunning event in military history; it defined the American people by forcing them to grapple with the founding principles of the nation. Rachel Seidman brings together an array of primary sources from the antebellum period, the war, and Reconstruction to provide a well-rounded account of this pivotal era. Political debates and military developments may occupy the historical foreground, but it is the letters, diary entries, memoirs, and testimony of blacks, Native Americans, women, children, farmers, and foot soldiers in the richly textured background that bring the Civil War to life. Ex-slave Frederick Douglass's abolitionist speeches and writings contrast with Southern magazine editor James DeBow's defense of the slave system to set the political conflict in a national context. Northern traveler Caroline Seabury's heartbreaking letter about a slave auction and Southern slave mistress Ella Thomas's conflicted diary entries about her servant Isabella detail the daily brutality of slavery. Confederate general James Longstreet's report of the Battle of Gettysburg and Union general William T. Sherman's letter to the leaders of Atlanta document tactics introduced in the Civil War, while letters between soldiers and their families record the anguish and the courage on the battlefield and at home. A picture essay entitled "Images of War" graphically demonstrates the devastation wrought by the war through photography--a new medium in the 1860s that profoundly changed American attitudes about warfare.

Despite the South's surrender, violence and conflict continued during Reconstruction. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, but state-sanctioned Black Codes limited African American freedoms. At the cost of some 620,000 lives, the battles had ended, but America's struggle with the legacy of slavery was only beginning.

Features

  • Brings together an array of primary sources from the antebellum period, the war, and Reconstruction to provide a well-rounded account of this pivotal era
  • . A picture essay entitled "Images of War" demonstrates the devastation wrought by the war through photography
  • Includes letters, diary entries, memoirs, and testimony of African Americans, Native Americans, women, children, farmers, and foot soldiers

About the Author(s)

Rachel F. Seidman holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University. She is currently President of the Melpomene Institute of Women's Health Research in Saint Paul, MN.

Reviews

"Richly illustrated...an exceptional addition to any library."--School Library Journal

"The documents, under the guidance of Seidman's linking narrative, all make a powerful impression of immediacy about ordinary people's experience."--Booklist

"This is history as it should be read: history by the people who lived it....[In this book] the past is totally in focus--relevant and overpowering....[This book] will cause you to pause, consider, and question this 'wrenching, triumphant, and tragically flawed event.'"--Civil War Book Review

"Right on target....The number and variety of documents make this a valuable resource for students and teachers."--Horn Book Guide

Table of Contents

    What is a Document?
    How to Read a Document


    Introduction:A Defining Moment

    Chapter One: One Country, Two Worlds?

    North and South Compared
    Abolitionists Speak Out
    The Slave System
    Ex-Slaves Remember

    Chapter Two: Expanding Boundaries, Rising Tensions

    Westward Migration
    The Mexican War
    The Fugitive Slave Law
    Popular Sovereignty
    The Dred Scott Decision

    Chapter Three: The Rail Splitter and the Splitting Country

    The Lincoln-Douglas Debates
    Harpers Ferry
    Election 1860
    Secession
    Increasing Tensions
    War

    Chapter Four: Filling the Ranks

    A Glorious Adventure
    African-American Soldiers
    The Battle of Bull Run
    Conscription
    Abuse of Black Troops
    Camp Life
    The Battlefield

    Chapter Five: Moving Toward the Revolution

    The Crittenden-Johnson Resolutions
    Slavery Must Die
    The Battle of Antietam
    The Emancipation Proclamation
    Prejudice Overturned
    The Battle of Gettysburg
    Sherman's march to the Sea

    Chapter Six: This Sad War is a Bad Thing

    Letters Home
    Soldiers' Families Struggle
    Women Join the Workforce
    The Volunteer Effort
    Inflation
    The Peculiar Institution Falls Apart
    Lost interest in the "Cause"
    Assassination of Lincoln

    Chapter Seven: Picture Essay: Images of War

    Chapter Eight: A Fool's Errand?


    Planning for Reconstruction
    Radical Reconstruction
    The 13th Amendment
    The Black Codes
    Ex-Slaves Build New Lives
    African Americans Enter Politics
    Black Landowners
    The Limits of Reconstruction
    Sharecropping
    A Reign of Terror
    Reconstruction Ends

    Timeline
    Further Reading
    Credits
    Index

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