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The half century extending from the imperial crisis between Britain and its colonies in the 1760s to the early decades of the new republic of the United States was the greatest and most creative era of constitutionalism in American history, and perhaps in the world. During these decades, Americans explored and debated all aspects of politics and co…
 
The belief that Native Americans might belong to the fabled “lost tribes of Israel”—Israelites driven from their homeland around 740 BCE—took hold among Anglo-Americans and Indigenous peoples in the United States during its first half century. In Lost Tribes Found, Matthew W. Dougherty explores what this idea can tell us about religious nationalism…
 
For half a century Sarah Josepha Hale was the most influential woman in America. As editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, Hale was the leading cultural arbiter for the growing nation. Women (and many men) turned to her for advice on what to read, what to cook, how to behave, and―most important―what to think. Twenty years before the declaration of women’s …
 
How much sex should a person have? With whom? What do we make of people who choose not to have sex at all? As present as these questions are today, they were subjects of intense debate in the early American republic. In this richly textured history, Kara French investigates ideas about, and practices of, sexual restraint to better understand the se…
 
When C-SPAN conducted our first Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership in 2000, we worked with a team of nationally recognized historians to establish the survey's framework: Douglas Brinkley, Edna Greene Medford and Richard Norton Smith. They recommended the 10 qualities of presidential leadership and guided us on the survey's organization, …
 
In the context of slavery, science is usually associated with slaveholders’ scientific justifications of racism. But abolitionists were equally adept at using scientific ideas to discredit slaveholders. Looking beyond the science of race, The Science of Abolition shows how Black and white scientists and abolitionists drew upon a host of scientific …
 
America is in a state of deep unrest, grappling with xenophobia, racial, and ethnic tension a national scale that feels singular to our time. But it also echoes the earliest anti-immigrant sentiments of the country. In 1844, Philadelphia was set aflame by a group of Protestant ideologues—avowed nativists—who were seeking social and political power …
 
By the election year of 1844, Joseph Smith, the controversial founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had amassed a national following of some 25,000 believers. Nearly half of them lived in the city of Nauvoo, Illinois, where Smith was not only their religious leader but also the mayor and the commander-in-chief of a militia of …
 
From a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, the powerful story of a fragile nation as it expands across a contested continent. In this beautifully written history of America’s formative period, a preeminent historian upends the traditional story of a young nation confidently marching to its continent-spanning destiny. The newly constituted United Stat…
 
The spring of 1812 found the young American republic on edge. The British Navy was impressing American seamen with impunity at an alarming rate while vicious attacks on frontier settlements by American Indians armed with British weapons had left a trail of fear and outrage. As calls for a military response increased, Kentucky, the first state west …
 
The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811–12 were the strongest temblors in the North American interior in at least the past five centuries. From the Great Plains to the Atlantic Coast and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, a broad cast of thinkers struggled to explain these seemingly unprecedented natural phenomena. They summoned a range of trad…
 
Slave traders are peripheral figures in most histories of American slavery. But these men—who trafficked and sold over half a million enslaved people from the Upper South to the Deep South—were essential to slavery's expansion and fueled the growth and prosperity of the United States. In The Ledger and the Chain, acclaimed historian Joshua D. Rothm…
 
The half-century before the Civil War was beset with conflict over equality as well as freedom. Beginning in 1803, many free states enacted laws that discouraged free African Americans from settling within their boundaries and restricted their rights to testify in court, move freely from place to place, work, vote, and attend public school. But ove…
 
The 1856 presidential race was the most violent peacetime election in American history. War between proslavery and antislavery settlers raged in Kansas; a congressman shot an Irish immigrant at a Washington hotel; and another congressman beat a US senator senseless on the floor of the Senate. But amid all the violence, the campaign of the new Repub…
 
Today, Americans believe that the early colonists came to the New World in search of religious liberty. What we often forget is that they wanted religious liberty for themselves, not for those who held other views that they rejected and detested. Yet, by the mid-18th century, the colonists agreed that everyone possessed a sovereign right of conscie…
 
Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be …
 
The long and turning path to the abolition of American slavery has often been attributed to the equivocations and inconsistencies of antislavery leaders, including Lincoln himself. But James Oakes’s brilliant history of Lincoln’s antislavery strategies reveals a striking consistency and commitment extending over many years. The linchpin of antislav…
 
Americans seldom deify their Founding Fathers any longer, but they do still tend to venerate the Constitution and the republican government that the founders created. Strikingly, the founders themselves were far less confident in what they had wrought, particularly by the end of their lives. In fact, most of them—including George Washington, Alexan…
 
From the winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize in History, a lost episode rediscovered after almost two hundred years; a thwarted love triangle of heartbreak–two men and a woman of equal ambition–that exploded in scandal and investigation, set between America’s Revolution and its Civil War, revealing an age in subtle and powerf…
 
John C. Calhoun is among the most notorious and enigmatic figures in American political history. First elected to Congress in 1810, Calhoun went on to serve as secretary of war and vice president. But he is perhaps most known for arguing in favor of slavery as a "positive good" and for his famous doctrine of "state interposition," which laid the gr…
 
The first biography of the great Shawnee leader in more than twenty years, and the first to make clear that his misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States. Until the Americans killed Tecumseh in 1813, he and his brother Tenskwatawa were the co-architects of the br…
 
In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical traditio…
 
Most Americans know that the state of Texas was once the Republic of Texas―an independent sovereign state that existed from 1836 until its annexation by the United States in 1846. But few are aware that thousands of Americans, inspired by Texas, tried to establish additional sovereign states outside the borders of the early American republic. In Br…
 
In Cry of Murder on Broadway, Julie Miller shows how a woman's desperate attempt at murder came to momentarily embody the anger and anxiety felt by many people at a time of economic and social upheaval and expanding expectations for equal rights. On the evening of November 1, 1843, a young household servant named Amelia Norman attacked Henry Ballar…
 
The relationship between early Mormons and the United States was marked by anxiety and hostility, heightened over the course of the nineteenth century by the assassination of Mormon leaders, the Saints' exile from Missouri and Illinois, the military occupation of the Utah territory, and the national crusade against those who practiced plural marria…
 
The US Constitution never established a presidential cabinet―the delegates to the Constitutional Convention explicitly rejected the idea. So how did George Washington create one of the most powerful bodies in the federal government? On November 26, 1791, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Hen…
 
Donald Trump’s election has forced the United States to reckon with not only the political power of the presidency, but also how he and his supporters have used the office to advance their shared vision of America: one that is avowedly nationalist and unrepentantly rooted in nativism and white supremacy. It might be easy to attribute this dark visi…
 
In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson edited the New Testament with a penknife and glue, removing all mention of miracles and other supernatural events. Inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment, Jefferson hoped to reconcile Christian tradition with reason by presenting Jesus of Nazareth as a great moral teacher―not a divine one. Peter Manseau tell…
 
[Warning: There was some corruption of the audio file and some parts of the interview are missing]. Passionate political disagreement is as old as the American Republic, and the antebellum era -- the thirty years before the Civil War -- was as rife with partisan discord as any in our history. From 1834 to 1856, the Whigs battled their opponents, th…
 
As the sectional crisis gripped the United States, the rancor increasingly spread to the halls of Congress. Preston Brooks's frenzied assault on Charles Sumner was perhaps the most notorious evidence of the dangerous divide between proslavery Democrats and the new antislavery Republican Party. But as disunion loomed, rifts within the majority Democ…
 
Paul Polgar recovers the racially inclusive vision of America's first abolition movement. In showcasing the activities of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the New York Manumission Society, and their African American allies during the post-Revolutionary and early national eras, he unearths this coalition's comprehensive agenda for black freedom a…
 
At first glance, evangelical and Gotham seem like an odd pair. What does a movement of pious converts and reformers have to do with a city notoriously full of temptation and sin? More than you might think, says Kyle B. Roberts, who argues that religion must be considered alongside immigration, commerce, and real estate scarcity as one of the forces…
 
Usually remembered for its slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,” the election of 1840 is also the first presidential election of which it might be truly said, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” Tackling a contest best known for log cabins, cider barrels, and catchy songs, this timely volume reveals that the election of 1840 might be better understood as a …
 
Historians have long viewed President John Tyler as one of the nation’s least effective heads of state. In President without a Party―the first full­-scale biography of Tyler in more than fifty years and the first new academic study of him in eight decades―Christopher J. Leahy explores the life of the tenth chief executive of the United States. Born…
 
Before Civil War greenbacks and a national bank network established a uniform federal currency in the United States, the proliferation of loosely regulated banks saturated the early American republic with upwards of 10,000 unique and legal bank notes. This number does not even include the plethora of counterfeit bills and the countless shinplasters…
 
Enormously powerful, intensely ambitious, the very personifications of their respective regions--Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and John C. Calhoun represented the foremost statemen of their age. In the decades preceding the Civil War, they dominated American congressional politics as no other figures have. Now Merrill D. Peterson, one of our most gif…
 
Before the Civil War, the American people did not have to worry about a federal tax collector coming to their door. The reason why was the tariff, taxing foreign goods and imports on arrival in the United States. Tariff Wars and the Politics of Jacksonian America attempts to show why the tariff was an important part of the national narrative in the…
 
Americans of the Early Republic devoted close attention to the question of what should be the proper relationship between church and state. This issue engaged participants from all religions, denominations and party affiliations. Kabala examines this debate across six decades and shows that an understanding of this period is not possible without ap…
 
Bridging women’s history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South…
 
From the earliest stirrings of southern nationalism to the defeat of the Confederacy, analysis of European nationalist movements played a critical role in how southerners thought about their new southern nation. Southerners argued that because the Confederate nation was cast in the same mold as its European counterparts, it deserved independence. I…
 
Before the Civil War, a new idea of womanhood took shape in America in general and in the Northeast in particular. Women of the propertied classes assumed the mantle of moral guardians of their families and the nation. Laboring women, by contrast, continued to suffer from the oppressions of sex and class. In fact, their very existence troubled thei…
 
Andrew Jackson was of one of the most critical and controversial figures in American history. The dominant actor on the American scene in the half-century between Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, Jackson lent his name first to a political movement, then to an era, and finally to democracy itself. As the Hero of New Orleans, he became a symbol …
 
From master historian William C. Davis, the definitive story of the Battle of New Orleans, the fight that decided the ultimate fate not only of the War of 1812 but the future course of the fledgling American republic It was a battle that could not be won. Outnumbered farmers, merchants, backwoodsmen, smugglers, slaves, and Choctaw Indians, many of …
 
A stunning revision of our founding document’s evolving history that forces us to confront anew the question that animated the founders so long ago: What is our Constitution? Americans widely believe that the United States Constitution was created when it was drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1788. But in a shrewd rereading of the founding era, Jonat…
 
The friendship of the bachelor politicians James Buchanan (1791-1868) of Pennsylvania and William Rufus King (1786-1853) of Alabama has excited much speculation through the years. Why did neither marry? Might they have been gay? Or was their relationship a nineteenth-century version of the modern-day "bromance"? In Bosom Friends: The Intimate World…
 
Compared to the Puritans, Mormons have rarely gotten their due, treated as fringe cultists at best or marginalized as polygamists unworthy of serious examination at worst. In Kingdom of Nauvoo, the historian Benjamin E. Park excavates the brief life of a lost Mormon city, and in the process demonstrates that the Mormons are, in fact, essential to u…
 
President by Massacre: Indian-Killing for Political Gain pulls back the curtain of "expansionism," revealing how Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, and Zachary Taylor massacred Indians to "open" land to slavery and oligarchic fortunes. President by Massacre: Indian-Killing for Political Gain examines the way in which presidential hopefuls thro…
 
In Liberty and Slavery: European Separatists, Southern Secession, and the American Civil War, Niels Eichhorn examines the language of slavery, a component he considers central to revolutionary struggles, especially those fought by European separatists in the first half of the nineteenth century. Tracing the European uprisings of 1830 and 1848 and t…
 
From a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a brilliant, absorbing study of Thomas Jefferson’s campaign to save Virginia through education. By turns entertaining and tragic, this beautifully written history reveals the origins of a great university in the dilemmas of Virginia slavery. It offers an incisive portrait of Thomas Jefferson set against…
 
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