In 1860, Charleston, South Carolina, embodied the combustible spirit of the South. No city was more fervently attached to slavery, and no city was seen by the North as a greater threat to the bonds barely holding together the Union. And so, with Abraham Lincoln's election looming, Charleston's leaders faced a climactic decision: they could submit to abolition--or they could drive South Carolina out of the Union and hope that the rest of the South would follow.
In Madness Rules the Hour, Paul Starobin tells the story of how Charleston succumbed to a fever for war and charts the contagion's relentless progress and bizarre turns. In doing so, he examines the wily propagandists, the ambitious politicians, the gentlemen merchants and their wives and daughters, the compliant pastors, and the white workingmen who waged a violent and exuberant revolution in the name of slavery and Southern independence. They devoured the Mercury, the incendiary newspaper run by a fanatical father and son; made holy the deceased John C. Calhoun; and adopted "Le Marseillaise" as a rebellious anthem. Madness Rules the Hour is a portrait of a culture in crisis and an insightful investigation into the folly that fractured the Union and started the Civil War.
In 1860, news of Abraham Lincoln's election arrived in Charleston like a fire alarm. In the United States courtroom on Chalmers Street, the grand jury simply refused to go on. All eyes are on the judge. In a dramatic moment, Judge A.G. Magrath, tears off his robes and tells jurors and spectators that, rather than continuing under tyranny, his Temple of Justice is forever closed. Thus in this long-since forgotten room took place the first official act of disunion, predating the Ordinance of Secession by over a month and lighting the fuse that lead to war.
Preserving a piece of history few knew existed, trial attorney Warren Moise takes the reader back in time to the courts and law practice of a different era. Ride into the frontier town of Spartanburg by night with two tired lawyers where to their surprise they see hundreds of sweating men fighting bare-fisted in the flickering torch light. Just as important, learn the never-before documented role of the bench and bar in the battle for secession and of the Confederate States court, where the CS Attorney prosecuted former US Attorneys James L. Petigru and Edward McCrady for contempt because they defied Confederate law.
Nationalisms tend to construct glorified pasts, idyllic pictures of national strength, honor, and unity, based on visions of what should have been rather than what actually was. Binnington considers the ways in which the Confederacy was imagined by antebellum Southerners employing intertwined mythic concepts—the "Worthy Southron," the "Demon Yankee," the "Silent Slave"—and a sense of shared history that constituted a distinctive Confederate Americanism. The Worthy Southron, the constructed Confederate self, was imagined as a champion of liberty, counterposed to the Demon Yankee other, a fanatical abolitionist and enemy of Liberty. The Silent Slave was a companion to the vocal Confederate self, loyal and trusting, reliable and honest.
The creation of American national identity was fraught with struggle, political conflict, and bloody Civil War. Confederate Visions examines literature, newspapers and periodicals, visual imagery, and formal state documents to explore the origins and development of wartime Confederate nationalism.
Sinha discusses some of the major sectional crises of the antebellum era--including nullification, the conflict over the expansion of slavery into western territories, and secession--and offers an important reevaluation of the movement to reopen the African slave trade in the 1850s. In the process she reveals the central role played by South Carolina planter politicians in developing proslavery ideology and the use of states' rights and constitutional theory for the defense of slavery.
Sinha's work underscores the necessity of integrating the history of slavery with the traditional narrative of southern politics. Only by taking into account the political importance of slavery, she insists, can we arrive at a complete understanding of southern politics and the enormity of the issues confronting both northerners and southerners on the eve of the Civil War.
In De Bow's Review: The Antebellum Vision of a New South, author John Kvach explores how the editor's antebellum economic and social policies influenced Southern readers and created the framework for a postwar New South movement. By recreating subscription lists and examining the lives and livelihoods of 1,500 Review readers, Kvach demonstrates how De Bow's Review influenced a generation and a half of Southerners. This approach allows modern readers to understand the historical context of De Bow's editorial legacy. Ultimately, De Bow and his antebellum subscribers altered the future of their region by creating the vision of a New South long before the Civil War.