Read America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union by Fergus M. Bordewich Free Online
Book Title: America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise That Preserved the Union|
The author of the book: Fergus M. Bordewich
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Reader ratings: 5.2
Edition: Simon & Schuster
Date of issue: April 17th 2012
ISBN 13: 9781439124604
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 963 KB
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The Mexican War introduced vast new territories into the United States, among them California and the present-day Southwest. When gold was discovered in California in the great Gold Rush of 1849, the population swelled, and settlers petitioned for admission to the Union. But the U.S. Senate was precariously balanced with fifteen free states and fifteen slave states. Up to then states had been admitted in pairs, one free and one slave, to preserve that tenuous balance in the Senate. Would California be free or slave? So began a paralyzing crisis in American government, and the longest debate in Senate history.
Fergus Bordewich tells the epic story of the Compromise of 1850 with skill and vigor, bringing to life two generations of senators who dominated the great debate. Luminaries such as John Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clayâ€”who tried unsuccessfully to cobble together a compromise that would allow for Californiaâ€™s admission and simultaneously put an end to the nationâ€™s agony over slaveryâ€”were nearing the end of their long careers. Rising stars such as Jefferson Davis, William Seward, and Stephen Douglasâ€”who ultimately succeeded where Clay failedâ€”would shape the countryâ€™s politics as slavery gradually fractured the nation.
The Compromise saved the Union from collapse, but it did so at a great cost. The gulf between North and South over slavery widened with the strengthened Fugitive Slave Law that was part of the complex Compromise. In Americaâ€™s Great Debate Fergus Bordewich takes us back to a time when compromise
was imperative, when men swayed one another in Congress with the power of their ideas and their rhetoric, when partisans on each side reached across the aisle to preserve the Union from tragedy.
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Read information about the authorFERGUS M. BORDEWICH is the author of five non-fiction books: Washington: The Making of the American Capital (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008); Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America (Amistad/HarperCollins, 2005); My Mother’s Ghost, a memoir (Doubleday, 2001); Killing the White Man’s Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century (Doubleday, 1996); and Cathay: A Journey in Search of Old China (Prentice Hall Press, 1991). He has also published an illustrated children’s book, Peach Blossom Spring (Simon & Schuster, 1994), and wrote the script for a PBS documentary about Thomas Jefferson, Mr. Jefferson’s University. He also edited an illustrated book of eyewitness accounts of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Children of the Dragon (Macmillan, 1990). He is a regular contributor to Smithsonian magazine, mainly on subjects in nineteenth century American history. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and daughter.
Bound for Canaan was selected as one of the American Booksellers Association’s "ten best nonfiction books" in 2005; as the Great Lakes Booksellers’ Association’s "best non-fiction book" of 2005; as one of the Austin Public Library's Best Non-Fiction books of 2005; and as one of the New York Public Library’s "ten books to remember" in 2005.
Washington was named by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post as one of his "Best Books of 2008."
BORDEWICH WAS BORN in New York City in 1947, and grew up in Yonkers, New York. While growing up, he often traveled to Indian reservations around the United States with his mother, LaVerne Madigan Bordewich, the executive director of the Association on American Indian Affairs, then the only independent advocacy organization for Native Americans. This early experience helped to shape his lifelong preoccupation with American history, the settlement of the continent, and issues of race, poverty, and political power. He holds degrees from the City College of New York and Columbia University, and also attended the New School for Social Research. In the late 1960s, he did voter registration for the NAACP in the still-segregated South; he also worked as a roustabout in Alaska’s Arctic oil fields, a taxi driver in New York City, a deckhand on a Norwegian freighter.
He has been an independent writer and historian since the early 1970s. His articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, American Heritage, Atlantic, Harper's, New York Magazine, GEO, Reader’s Digest, and others. As a journalist, he traveled extensively in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, writing on politics, economic issues, culture, and history, on subjects ranging from the civil war in Burma, religious repression in China, Islamic fundamentalism, German reunification, the Irish economy, Kenya’s population crisis, among many others. He also served for brief periods as an editor and writer for the Tehran Journal in Iran, in 1972-1973, a press officer for the United Nations, in 1980-1982, and an advisor to the New China News Agency in Beijing, in 1982-1983, when that agency was embarking on its effort to switch from a propaganda model to a western-style journalistic one.
Bordewich’s newest book, titled America’s Great Debate, focuses on the nation’s westward expansion, slavery and the Compromise of 1850. It centers on the dramatic congressional debate of 1849-1850 – the longest in American history – when a gallery of extraordinary men including Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Stephen A. Douglas, Jefferson Davis, William H. Seward, and others, fought to shape, and in the case of some to undermine, the future course of the Union. In the aftermath of the Mexican War, new conquests carried the United States from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. How would the newly acquired empire be governed? Could it even be governed? Would that emp