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By David Goldfield

In this spellbinding new historical past, David Goldfield bargains the 1st significant new interpretation of the Civil conflict period in view that James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. the place prior students have limned the warfare as a triumph of freedom, Goldfield sees it as America's maximum failure: the results of a breakdown because of the infusion of evangelical faith into the general public sphere. because the moment GreatAwakening surged via the USA, political questions grew to become concerns of fine and evil to be fought to the demise.

The fee of that failure used to be bad, however the carnage comprehensive what statesmen couldn't: It made the USA one country and eradicated slavery as a divisive strength within the Union. The positive North grew to become synonymous with the US as a land of innovation and industrialization, whose teeming towns provided squalor and chance in equivalent degree. faith used to be supplanted by means of technology and a gospel of development, and the South used to be left in the back of.

Goldfield's panoramic narrative, sweeping from the 1840s to the top of Reconstruction, is studded with memorable information and luminaries corresponding to HarrietBeecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Walt Whitman. There are lesser identified but both compelling characters, too, together with Carl Schurz-a German immigrant, warhero, and postwar reformer-and Alexander Stephens, the urbane and highbrow vice chairman of the Confederacy. America Aflame is a vibrant portrait of the "fiery trial"that remodeled the rustic we are living in.

David Goldfield is the Robert Lee Bailey Professor of historical past on the collage of North Carolina, Charlotte. he's the writer of many works on Southern heritage, together with Still scuffling with the Civil War; Black, White, and Southern; and Promised Land.

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Alien cultures and international locations intruded at the edges of settlement—Native americans and Mexicans foremost—thwarting nationwide future. those have been the fears of white Protestant americans, in particular within the North. The publication opens with the destruction of the Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts, through a Protestant mob in August 1834. The episode uncovered the deep and transforming into resentment opposed to the Catholic Church and its adherents, rather between Protestant workingmen. It additionally highlighted the tolerance for violence as a tactic to intimidate or dispose of teams or associations perceived as threats to triumphing non secular and political beliefs. The passions that fueled the convent hearth might approximately immolate the state in a ruinous civil battle. The anti-Catholic and anti-slavery pursuits shared a number of the comparable team of workers, rhetoric, and strategies. Lyman Beecher, a brand new England evangelical minister, moved his relations to Cincinnati to avoid wasting the West from the Catholic Church. His daughters Harriet and Catharine and his son Henry Ward might turn into famous within the anti-slavery circulate. Aided by means of technological techniques in printing, either anti-Catholic and anti-slavery advocates saturated the rustic with their literature. They hired related apocalyptic rhetoric to energise trustworthy fans to motion opposed to either one of those threats to the state and God. either the anti-Catholic and anti-slavery hobbies flourished in the course of a countrywide non secular revival often called the second one nice Awakening. The Awakening kept souls and spawned quite a few reform hobbies but additionally indulged in bigotry and self-righteousness. within the North, it veered towards a basic reform of society as a prelude for the second one Coming of Jesus Christ. Evangelical Protestantism within the South was once extra eager about person conversion, and its adherents regarded with alarm at the mix of faith and politics brewing poisonous potions within the North. Nor did southerners sign up for with northern evangelicals within the excoriation in their Catholic and immigrant populations. For all of its problem approximately reforming society, the northern model of evangelical Christianity simply hardly ever promoted the thought of racial equality. the growth of white male suffrage happened along the unfold of evangelical Protestantism. regulations opposed to loose blacks within the North elevated besides. a number of states banned loose blacks from coming into altogether. That white and black liberty moved in contrary instructions appeared to verify the assumption of white southerners that the life of slavery for blacks assured freedom for whites. The power unleashed by means of the second one nice Awakening affected America’s westward stream, which started in earnest after 1840. The West encapsulated antebellum american citizens’ hopes and anxieties. It held a different position in American tradition as a zone of renewal. It was once our geographic model of spiritual rebirth. The West was once where american citizens might begin over and the kingdom might satisfy its future as a democratic, Protestant beacon to motivate different peoples and countries.

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