Naval historian Craig Symonds 1986 “map-book,” A Battlefield Atlas of the Revolutionary War, carefully traces the journey of Washington’s troops from near collapse on Manhattan Island to eventual triumph at Yorktown. The combination of succinct text and clear visuals allows one to follow the complex twists and turns across all seven years of the conflict.
Catherine Drinker Bowen’s Miracle At Philadelphia (1966) invites one to sit in during the summer of 1787 as 55 founding fathers search behind closed doors, to formulate a Constitution that binds the “sovereign states” together, creates a workable Union internally, and becomes capable of defending it against foreign threats. Of particular note is her focus on the issues surrounding slavery, which consistently threaten the outcome and result in a series of awkward compromises that will gradually come unglued over the next fourscore years.
Understanding the evolution of the new nation demands a basic grounding in its religious traditions and reform movements, together with its efforts to create a viable economy and the financial systems needed to support its ongoing growth.
Sydney Ahlstrom’s 1972 classic, A Religious History of the American People, catalogues the Protestant traditions brought to America by the colonists – especially the Calvinists with their rigid beliefs in pre-destination and clerical authority – and the break-away efforts to “democratize” the church, to open up the possibility of salvation for all men, and to assert they can find it on their own, by reading the Bible and embracing its tenets. The result is a still intensely religious nation, but one marked by a host of new credos and liturgies – Unitarians, Mormons, Adventists, etc. – and impacted by a Second Great Awakening intent on social reforms, including the end of slavery.
Roger Ransom, in his Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation and the American Civil War (1989) joins other economists in trying to piece together the sparse statistical data available for the period and tell the story of how capitalistic instincts in the new nation took radically different shapes by region – with the South locked into its slave-based systems of agriculture and the North opting for a diversified and industrialized model. As these two paths drift further apart and come into conflict around government policies, a sectional war becomes inevitable.
Robert Margo’s Wages & Labor Markets in the United States 1820-1860 (2000) tackles the daunting task of locating a range of data sources to produce estimates of the daily and annual wages for common laborers, artisans and white collar workers over time. Linked to largely anecdotal data on prices for goods and services, one is able to gain a feel for contemporary cost of living standards.
Given the power of the Executive Branch in determining the fate of the country, telling the stories of those chosen to sit in the White House becomes paramount to telling the nation’s story. As indicated above, The American President Series does a remarkable job of this. Each book runs to roughly 200 pages, which forces editorial discipline and a focus on high impact issues and outcomes, while also allowing enough room to touch on the personal life and character of each subject.
A host of detailed biographies – James Flexner on Washington, David McCulloch on John Adams, Joseph Ellis on Jefferson among them – provide additional depth on the early presidents while exploring the military threats facing the new nation from Napoleon and Britain, and the intensifying policy divisions between Federalists, seeking to concentrate more power in D.C., and Anti-Federalists, wishing to distribute it to the individual states and avoid an imperial presidency.
The second great war with Britain is recounted in stirring fashion by Walter Lord in The Dawn’s Early Light (1972), and updated by Donald Hickey in The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (2012).
John Meacham’s biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion (2008), examines the impact of America’s first western President, the creation of a populist Democratic Party, and the often brutal expansion of America’s borders under the banner of “manifest destiny." It also captures the interplay between the President and the “great congressional triumvirate” of John Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster over the key issues of the day, the tariff, the banking system, and the “nullification” threat mounted by South Carolina. Jackson emerges as often flawed, but a stern defender of the common (white) man and of the sanctity and preservation of the Union.
Grant Foreman’s 1932 book, Indian Removal, chronicles Jackson’s ruthless seizure of tribal lands in the southeast and the forced relocation of the “five civilized nations” across the trail of tears to Oklahoma.
From 1838 forward, most government attempts at fairness toward “America’s first inhabitants” vanishes in favor of aggressive seizures of land under the guise of negotiated “treaties.”
The economic depression which strikes America after Jackson’s 1836 Specie Circular crackdown on the soft money supply and land speculation, along with the efforts to restore the role and integrity of the banking system, are discussed in Douglas North’s The Economic Growth of the United States 1790-1860 (1966) and Howard Bodenhorn’s A History of Banking in Antebellum America: Financial Markets and Economic Development in an Era of Nation-Building (2000).
David and Jeanne Heidler’s 2010 book Henry Clay, The Essential American, recaps the life of “The Great Compromiser,” whose gregarious nature and political acumen enabled him to hold the nation together through existential threats posed by the 1819 Tallmadge Amendment, the 1846 Wilmot Proviso and the 1850 admission of California as a Free State. Along with exploring these crises, the authors also track Clay’s lifelong feud with Andrew Jackson, his creation of the Whig Party in 1834, his three failed attempts to win the presidency and his grievous personal losses, including the death of his namesake son in a Mexican War that he opposed.
The lives of Clay’s two allies and adversaries in the great triumvirate dominating the Congress for three decades are also explored in biographies, one being Irving Bartlett’s John C. Calhoun (1993), the other Robert Remini’s Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time (1997).
The 1830’s ushers in the period of “scientific racism.” Dr. Samuel Morton’s flawed study Crania Americana; or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America: To which is Prefixed An Essay on the Varieties of the Human Species (1839) finds that negroes have smaller skull capacity than whites, reinforcing Jefferson’s theories about genetics and black inferiority. Morton’s conclusions are seconded by the equally inept Orson Squire Fowler in his 1843 “phrenological study,” Heredity Descent.
Southern clergymen assure their congregations that slavery is sanctioned in the Bible and is a positive good both for society and for the Africans – who, in exchange for their freedom, are given a chance to achieve Christian salvation. Leading this justification for slavery is the famous South Carolina Calvinist minister, James Thornwell, whose sermons appear in The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell 1832-1862).
Many efforts have been made to capture the daily plight of the enslaved Africans in the land of the free, but none so poignant as the 2300 first-hand testimonies captured in the Library of Congress Collection Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-38.
Other more contemporary accounts abound. In 1829 a free black in Boston named David Walker publishes his Appeal To The Coloured Citizens of the World, a moving cry about the horrors of slavery and a call for the white population to act on behalf of moral justice in time to avoid a violent rebellion. In 1845 comes the famous Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave, “written by himself” and published by the Anti-Slavery Office in Boston. Other pleas from blacks in support of emancipation, assimilation and citizenship often take the form of speeches and manifestos by men like Henry Highland Garnet and Martin Delaney, delivered in a variety of forums, often alongside white supporters of abolition.
The sexual abuses suffered by enslaved females are recounted in several works. One is Harriet Jacobs’ autobiography, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861. An equally disturbing but more comprehensive modern study comes from Ned and Constance Sublette in their 2016 book, The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry. Thomas Jefferson’s cold economic calculations about the profitability “of the little ones” in his Farm Book echo throughout this study, along with financial data demonstrating the Southern dependence on breeding and selling slaves to sustain their wealth.
Barry Hankin’s The Second Great Awakening and the Transcendentalists (2004) traces the religious fervor which grips America from 1820 to 1850 forward and sparks the reform movements associated with the Evangelical preachers and the New England Unitarians and Transcendentalists.
Henry Mayer’s 1998 biography of William Lloyd Garrison, All On Fire, chronicles the cancerous spread of slavery in the South and the efforts of those who oppose it, on moral or self-serving grounds. While focused on the life of Garrison, the book captures all the major religious and political movements and leaders in the anti-slavery crusade, including lesser known figures, Benjamin Lundy, Lucretia and James Mott, Evangelical preacher Charles Finley, the Tappan brothers, Gerritt Smith and James Birney, along with the black pioneers, Prince Hall, James Forten, David Walker, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and as well as Douglass and Garnet. The work also sets up the ongoing struggle between those, like Garrison, who believe that passive resistance will end slavery, and others, like Douglass, Smith and John Brown who conclude that bloodshed will be required.
Stephen Kantrowitz’s More Than Freedom (2012) emphasizes the often overlooked role played by early “free blacks” in fighting to overcome racial stereotypes, assimilate themselves into a typically hostile white culture, reject re-colonization, and gradually inch their way toward “citizenship.”
In his Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War (2010) Stephen Woodworth provides an overview of the “mountain men,” from Lewis & Clark forward, who followed the lead of Native American tribesmen in mapping paths from the Mississippi River to the west coast. Among them was the “Pathfinder,” John C. Fremont, who provides a captivating record of his travels in the Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1842 and in Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-44 (1845) – an account which makes him famous and sets up his nomination in 1856 as the Republican’s first candidate for the presidency.
Robert Merry’s 2009 book, A Country of Vast Designs, follows the rise of Andrew Jackson’s protégé, James Knox Polk, from his dark-horse nomination by the Democrats in 1844 through his determined efforts to wage a war with Mexico in 1846-47. The result is the addition of some 527,000 square miles of land across the western third of the continent – followed by the divisive battles in Congress over whether to allow slavery in the territory, and the bloody war in Kansas. Polk emerges as a tireless president who achieves his agenda and then dies, exhausted, soon after leaving office.
Horatio Lord’s History of the Mexican War (1883) provides a definitive study of each of the major battles in the conflict, from Zachary Taylor’s move across the Rio Grande in May 1846 to Winfield Scott’s conquest of Chapultepec Castle and the capital city in September 1847. Interwoven with the military history is a look at the events leading up to the War, including the Texas Annexation, and the post-war intrigue between President Polk and Scott surrounding the acquisition of Mexican lands and the 1848 Treaty of Hidalgo.
Eric Foner’s Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men (1995) zeroes in on the aftermath of the Mexican War as a faction of white Northerners join together to oppose Southerners intent on sanctioning slavery across the new western lands. Together with Salmon Chase and John Hale they form the Free Soil Party which demands, as the book title says, that free white men be heirs to the soil and that the “dignity” of free white labor be protected against the diminishing effects of slavery. The Party itself is short lived, but it jars the unity of Northern Democrats and eventually forms one important wing of the Republican movement when it starts up in 1854.
In the 1973 biography Stephen A. Douglas Robert Johannsen traces the “Little Giant’s” remarkable rise to leadership of the Democrat Party from the time of the Mexican War to the break-up of the Union. During this span Douglas is portrayed as the linchpin in efforts to promote the principle of “popular sovereignty” (let the people decide) as an option to the 1846 Wilmot Proviso’s outright ban on slavery in the west. When Henry Clay fails to gain Southern support for the admission of California as a state, Douglas crafts the Compromise of 1850 and later follows it with the crucial 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act which negates the Missouri Compromise and the 30’36” demarcation line in effect since 1820. President Buchanan’s attempts to push the fraudulent pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution for Kansas through Congress provokes Douglas’ courageous break with him, destroys Democratic Party unity, ends his chances for the presidency, and ultimately results in Southern secession and civil war.
One key element in Douglas’ 1850 Compromise is a tightening of federal enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act intended to further discourage flights to freedom.
In Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation (1909), John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger provide an in-depth look at these desperate attempts at escape. Included are profiles of those who attempt to flee, the strategies they employ to avoid capture, the hired bounty hunters who pursue them, the stereotypical descriptions and retrieval fees found in newspaper ads placed by their owners and the economics driving efforts to preserve their “property” rights.
Charles Bolockson’s The Underground Railroad (1987) continues the effort to publish first-hand testimonials of former slaves, in this case describing their journeys from Southern captivity to Northern freedom along the gerry-rigged systems of transportation and safe houses. Success depends on collaboration between courageous blacks like Harriet Tubman, William Still, Lewis Hayden and Henry Highland Garnet, together with whites like Robert Purvis, Levi Coffin, Lucretia Mott and Thaddeus Stevens.
Alongside efforts to abolish slavery are those aimed at achieving “gender equality.” This is the subject of Sally McMillan’s 2008 work, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement. It reveals the devastating effects of “coverture” – inherited from English common law -- on the access of married women to basic rights enjoyed by men, including ownership of property and private income, signing legal documents, even obtaining an education with her husband’s permission. From there it traces the lives and actions of four crucial feminist reformers -- Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony – and the path to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention and Sentiments, often called the women’s declaration of independence.
On the economic front, the discovery of gold in the foothills northeast of San Francisco in 1848 expands the wealth of the nation overnight and intensifies the drive in Congress to build a transcontinental railroad to transport the precious ore back east, and to create permanent commercial and political binds between the new territories and the established Union.
In his 2005 book Gold! The Story of the 1848 Gold Rushand How It Shaped the Nation, the author Fred Rosen recounts the dramatic moment at John Sutter’s sawmill when carpenter James Marshall suddenly recognizes the discovery of a lifetime. Then comes a futile attempt to keep the find a secret followed by an invasion of 49-ers from around the globe seeking to claim their share of the riches.
After several years of partisan and sectional bickering in Congress an appropriation is passed in 1853-54 to send a series of five Army Corps of Engineers expeditions west from the Mississippi River to explore and map alternative routes for a railroad to reach California. Their fascinating discoveries are covered in a 12 volume series titled Pacific Survey Railroad Reports 1855-1861 published by the Government Printing Office.
Early in his landmark 1976 book, The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861, David Potter picks up on the pressure applied by Southerners on Stephen Douglas to formulate legislation favorable to slavery in the territories in exchange for supporting a route for the transcontinental railroad through Chicago, where he owns property. This factor, along with other perceived threats to his presidential chances and to the future of his Democratic Party, lead on to passage of the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act.
A more comprehensive review of the actual construction of the Pacific line can be found in Walter Borneman’s Rival Rails: The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad (2010).
As pressure against slavery mounts in the North and West, the fairly narrow intellectual community in the South pushes back in the 1852 compendium, The Pro-Slavery Argument – which includes articles and lectures by Professor Thomas Roderick Dew, jurist William Harper, novelist Dr. George Gilmore Simms and the planter politician, James Henry Hammond.
With Calhoun’s passing in 1850, another set of irate Southerners lead the charge to defend slavery and to threaten secession should efforts continue to deny its expansion into the new western territories. Eric Walther’s 1992 book, The Fire-Eaters, profiles the lives of nine of them, including Robert B. Rhett, William Yancey, Louis Wigfall, Lawrence Keitt, John Quitman and James DeBow.
David Donald’s remarkable biography, Lincoln (1995) follows the future President’s circuitous route in and out of politics, before being brought all the way back in response to Kansas-Nebraska bill which he regards as a violation of the 1820 Missouri Compromise law and an invitation to the South to expand slavery into the west rather than stopping it in line with the stated wishes of the founders.
Nicole Etcheson’s Bloody Kansas (2004) untangles the complex events that play out in the territory and in Congress during 1854-59 as Southern forces, backed by President Buchanan, attempt to impose a pro-slavery government on Northern settlers and politicians who stand in opposition. The book traces the vicious guerrilla warfare in Kansas that prefaces John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry and paves the road to the collapse of a unified Democratic Party and Southern secession.
In The Caning: Assault That Drove America To Civil War (2012) Stephen Puleo recounts the attack on the floor of the Senate in May 1856 by South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, which nearly kills the Massachusetts abolitionist, Charles Sumner. This incident, along with the concurrent violence in Kansas, symbolizes the breakdown of civility between the North and South at that tim
The national upheaval caused by Stephen Douglas’ 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act sets the stage for Allen Guelzo’s Lincoln and Douglas: The Debate That Defined America (2008). The play itself is carried out in seven face to face encounters in the Fall of 1858 during Lincoln’s attempt to win Douglas’ senate seat in Illinois. Cuelzo does a masterful job of revealing both men’s prejudices about the “negro race,” their contrasting debating styles, and the bases for their arguments on the core issue of whether to ban slavery outright in the west or allow “popular sovereignty” to decide the outcome. Lincoln loses the election, but the debate itself elevates him to national prominence.
Don Fehrenbacher’s The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics (2007) follows the tangled eleven year legal saga of the Missouri slave which tests the case law of “once free, forever free,” and ends with the devastating 7-2 decision by the Taney court that negroes had no rights under the Constitution and were merely the “property” of their masters. This landmark pro-Southern decision, however, is largely disregarded in practice and is reversed after the war.
In his 1987 book, The Origins of the Republican Party 1852-1856, author William Gienapp examines the unlikely convergence of three political factions in the North – homeless Whigs, frustrated Free Soilers and abolitionists of varying degrees – into one loosely unified organization gradually capable of defeating their long-standing common foe, the Democrats. For often conflicting reasons the Party platform calls for a ban on the western expansion of slavery, a policy which sparks the civil war.
David Reynold’s John Brown Abolitionist (2005) debunks the frequently held view of Brown as a backwoods hick whose violent acts in Kansas and Virginia are those of an isolated and delusional fanatic, carried out on his own, and ultimately ineffective. Instead Reynolds portrays a white man who lives among blacks all his life and views them as equals. A man who makes a religious vow to end slavery by any means and who develops a plan to do so by attacking Harpers Ferry; wins support from a “Secret Six” band of New England Brahmins; and, after sacrificing his own life on the gallows, become an iconic figure among Northern opponents of the Slave Power.
Maury Klein’s Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession and the Coming of the Civil War (1997) details Lincoln’s attempt to comprehend then defuse the crisis he is handed in Charleston harbor; the early response from the newly formed Confederate government under Jefferson Davis; the bungled naval mission to reinforce the Union fort, and the inevitable exchange of arms that opens the civil war.
Beyond reliance on the “physical books” mentioned above and in the full Bibliography below, the author was blessed throughout by accessing source materials – e.g. speeches, letters, data and analyses -- on the nearly limitless “library of the internet.” Indeed this online museum would never have been completed absent a technology allowing an amateur historian to sit at a terminal and instantaneously access needed information.
Within this amazing internet galaxy, a few sites must be acknowledged.
First is Wikipedia, which invariably can lay the groundwork for a deeper dive into all subjects of interest. The accuracy and quality of the facts stored in Wiki seem to be improving steadily, through its vast array of dedicated contributors.
The internet also provided much of the detailed data shown in regard to topics such as presidential and congressional election results, “modeled” trends in the national economy (e.g. nominal GDP per capita by administration), and the all-important shifts in the nation’s demographic landscape, as captured in the decennial U.S. Census.
Special mention belongs with Professors Louis Johnson and Samuel Williamson for their website Measuring Worth, which pieces together and attempts to model the performance of the American economy from 1789 forward.
The author was saved repeatedly in trying to crack the code on accessing data from the U.S. Census by user-friendly algorithms available through Duke University.
Access to records of the day by day proceedings in the U.S. Congress proved helpful at various stages. These are available in several compilations: The Annals of Congress (1789-1824), The Register of Debates (1824-1837), and The Congressional Globe (1833-1873). While challenging to explore, they are often unique in recapping the ayes and nays on critical pieces of legislation.
The internet was also the conduit to the extensive use of direct quotations which appear throughout the text, always indented, italicized, and attributed. By allowing the various actors on stage to “speak in their own voices” through these quotes, the author hopes to better capture the actual tenor of the entire antebellum era.
Turning now to the Photography Wing of the museum, inspiration for displaying the 3.000 images in the author’s personal collection came from a wide range of books and catalogues, assembled by others passionate about preserving a visual record of America’s past.
Appreciation for the scope of photography from the antebellum and Civil War eras begins with two amazing compendia, The Photographic History of the Civil War In Ten Volumes (1911) edited by the early film-maker, Francis Trevelyan Miller, and evolving into The Images of War 1861-1865 (1984), the six volume masterpiece edited by the prolific Professor, William C. Davis, and published by The National Historical Society.
Many efforts have been made over time to capture and catalogue the soldiers who fought in the Civil War. Early classics include two books by the historian Ezra J. Warner III, Generals in Gray (1959) and Generals in Blue (1964), showing a single image of each man, accompanied by a brief biography. Generations of collectors have used these books to properly christen unidentified images with the “right name.”
In 1991 William Davis edited The Confederate General, a six volume effort showing all known images for each soldier, along with more elaborate biographies.
William A. Albaugh’s initial Confederate Faces (1970) began the parade of books that expanded the published inventory of identified images, including both general officers and the “common soldiers.” The Faces concept was continued by Albaugh and by others, including the renowned collector, William Turner, and journalist, Ron Coddington, with his Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories (2009).
The most ambitious examination of Union officers has rested with Roger Hunt, whose photographic memory for images is legendary among collectors. His published works include Brevet Brigadier Generals In Blue (1990) and the on-going Colonels In Blue series, beginning in 2001.
The notion of “journeys,” treating period images as historical documents and tying them to intriguing narratives about their origins and context , was pioneered by historian, William Frassinito, in his remarkable Gettysburg: A Journey In Time (1975). This work was followed by similar explorations of the Antietam battlefield, and a detailed social history on the town of Gettysburg itself.
In addition to books on the photographs, there are the photographs themselves, dug out of attics and albums by generations of “dealers” and made available for sale -- originally at annual conventions and through mailed catalogued, and later online, via personal websites and eBay, and various auctions houses (e.g. Cowans and Heritage).
The author’s contact with these dealers begins with the early civil war antiquarian, Henry Deeks of Massachusetts, and extends through a host of others whose fares have ended up in this Photo Gallery, among them Howard Norton, Cary Delery, Jeff Blake, Perry Frohne, Steve Meadows, Len Rosa, Mike Medhurst, Bill Whisler, John Sickles, Tom McAvoy, and others.
While the above simply scratches the surface of the underpinnings for this website, it at least begins to share credit with those who have engaged and enlightened the author and made this website possible.
A more formal Bibliography follows below. It was prepared on Christmas Eve 2015 by Team Drane Shadle, including the author’s daughter, Monica, and her three children, Caroline, Walker and Audrey. Thanks again to them for their help.
Formal Bibliography: "Photography Wing"
Part A. Details on the works referenced above:
Schlesinger Jr, Arthur (1983). The Almanac of American History. New York. Putnam.
Schlesinger Jr, Arthur. The American President Series. New York. Times Books. Henry Holt.
Isaacson, Walter (2003). Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York. Simon & Schuster.
Chernow, Ron (2005). Alexander Hamilton. New York. Penguin Books.
Simon, James (2002). What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States. New York. Simon & Schuster.
Williams, Heather (2014). American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction. New York. Oxford University Press.
Eltis, David and Richardson, David (2010). Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. New Haven. Yale University Press.
Jefferson, Thomas (1999). Farm Book. Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.
Symonds, C. L. (1986). “A Battlefield Atlas of the American Revolution.” Annapolis, MD: The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, Inc.
Bowen, Catherine Drinker (1986). Miracle At Philadelphia. New York. Little Brown.
Ahlstrom, Sydney (1972). A Religious History of the American People. New Haven. Yale University Press.
Ransom, R. L. (1995). “Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War.” New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Margot, R. A. (2000). “Wages and Labor Market in the United States, 1820-1860.” Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Flexner, J. T. (1965). “George Washington: The Forge of Experience (1732-1775).” Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.
Flexner, J. T. (1968). “George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783).” Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.
Flexner, J. T. (1970). “George Washington and the New Nation (1783-1793).” Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.
Flexner, J. T. (1972). “George Washington: Anguish and Farewell (1793-1799).” Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.
McCullough, David (2001). “John Adams.” New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Ellis, James (1998). “American Sphinx.” New York: Vintage Books.
Lord, Walter (1972). “The Dawn’s Early Light.” Baltimore. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Hickey, Donald (2012). The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. Urbana. University of Illinois Press.
Meacham, J. (2009). “American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.” New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Foreman, Grant (1932). Indian Removal. Norman, OK. University of Oklahoma Press.
North, D. C. (1966). “The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790-1860.” New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Bodenhorn, Howard (2000). A History of Banking in Antebellum America: Financial Markets and Economic Development in an Era of Nation-Building. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
Heidler, David and Jeanne (2010). Henry Clay, The Essential American. New York. Random House.
Bartlett, Irving (1993). John C. Calhoun: A Biography. New York. W.W. Norton and Company.
Remini, Robert (1997). Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time. New York. W.W. Norton and Company.
Morton, Samuel (1839) Crania Americana; or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America: To which is Prefixed An Essay on the Varieties of the Human Species.
Fowler, Orson Squire (1843). Hereditary Descent, its Laws and Facts Applied to Human Improvement.
Thornwell, James Henley (1832-1862). The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell.
Library of Congress Collection Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project 1936-38.
Walker, David (1829/1993). Appeal To The Coloured Citizens of the World. Baltimore. Black Classic Press.
Douglass, Frederick (1845). Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Written By Himself. Boston. The Anti-Slavery Office.
Jacobs, Harriet (1861). Incidents In The Life of a Slave Girl. Boston. Published For The Author.
Sublette, Ned and Constance (2016). The American Slave Coast: A History of the Slave Breeding Industry. Chicago. Lawrence Hill Books.
Hankins, Barry (2004). The Second Great Awakening and the Transcendentalists. Westport CT. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Mayer, H. (1998). “All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery.” New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Kantrowitz, S. (2012). “More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889.” New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Woodworth, Stephen (2010). Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War. New York. Vintage Books.
Fremont, John C. (1845). Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1842 and in Oregon and North California in the Years 1843-44. Washington DC. Gales and Seaton.
Merry, Robert (2009). A Country of Vast Designs. New York, Simon & Schuster.
Lord, Horatio O (1883). “History of the War with Mexico.” New York. Dodd Mead & Company.
Foner, E. (1995). “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War.” Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Johannsen, Robert (1973). Stephen A. Douglas. Urbana. University of Illinois Press.
Franklin, J. H., & Schweninger, L. (1999). “Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation.” New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
Brockson, Charles (1987). “The Underground Railroad: First-Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North.” New York. Prentice Hill Press.
McMillan, Sally (2008). Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement. Oxford. Oxford Press.
Rosen, F. (2005). “Gold! The Story of the 1848 Gold Rush and How It Shaped a Nation.” New York, NY: Thunder’s Mouth Press.
Pacific Survey Railroad Reports 1855-1861 published by the Government Printing Office.
Potter, D. M. (1976). “The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861.” D. E. Fehrenbacher (Ed.). New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Borneman, W. R. (2010). “Rival Rails: The Race to Build America’s Greatest Transcontinental Railroad.” New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Harper, William; Hammond, James; Simms, William (1852). The Pro-Slavery Argument. Charleston. Walker Richards and Company.
Walther, Eric (1992). The Fire Eaters. Baton Rouge. LSU Press.
Donald, David (1995). Lincoln. New York. Simon and Schuster.
Etcheson, Nicole (2004) Bloody Kansas. Lawrence. University of Kansas Press.
Puleo, S. (2012). “The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to Civil War.” Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing, LLC.
Guelzo, Allen (2008). Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America. New York. Simon and Schuster.
Fehrenbacher, Don (1978). The Dred Scott Case: Its Significance in American Law and Politics. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
Gienapp, William (1987).The Origins of the Republican Party 1852-1856. Oxford. Oxford University Press.
Reynolds, David (2005). John Brown Abolitionist. New York. Vintage Books.
Klein, Maury (1997). Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession and the Coming of the Civil War. New York. Vintage Books.
Part B. Other books by subject area.
1. Declaration of Independence
Allen, D. (2014). Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. New York. Liveright Publishing Corporation.
2. Revolutionary War
Kantor, M. (1975). Valley Forge. New York. M. Evans and Company, Inc.
Keegan, J. (1996). Fields of Battle: The Wars for North America. New York. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Lang, S. (2004). British History for Dummies. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
McCullough, D. (2006). 1776. New York. Simon & Schuster, Inc.
3. Founding Fathers
Smith, Jean (1996). John Marshall: Definer of a Nation. New York. Henry Holt and Company.
Raphael, R. (2001). The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Founding Fathers and the Birth of Our Nation. New York. Alpha Books.
Elting, J. R. (1988). Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon and Grande Armée. New York. The Free Press.
Nofi, A. A. (1998). The Waterloo Campaign June 1815. Conshohocken, PA. Combined Publishing.
5. The War of 1812
Taylor, Allen (2011). The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels and Indian Allies. New York. Vintage Books.
Larson, E. J. (2014). The Return of George Washington. 1783-1789. New York. HarperCollins Publishers.
Chernow, Ron (2010). Washington: A Life. New York. Penguin Books.
Malone, Dumas (1948). Jefferson: The Virginian. Canada. McClelland and Stewart Limited.
Unger, Harlow G. (2009). The Last Founding Father. Philadelphia. Da Capo Press.
Chitwood, Oliver P. (1939). John Tyler: Champion of the Old South. Newtown CT. American Political Biography Press.
Goodwin, Doris. (2005). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York. Simon & Schuster.
Smith, C. (2005). Presidents: Every Question Answered, Everything You Could Possibly Want to Know About the Nation’s Chief Executives. Irvington, NY: Hylas Publishing.
Mr. Lincoln & Friends. The Gilman Lehrer Institute Of American History Online Sites.
7. Leading Public Figures and Politicians
Smith, Elbert (1980). Francis Preston Blair. Lawrence. University of Kansas Press.
Peterson, M. D. (1987). The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay, and Calhoun. New York. Oxford University Press, Inc.
Donald, D. H. (1981). Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War. Chicago. The University of Chicago Press.
Trefousse, H. L. (2001). Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
Davis, William (1991). Jefferson Davis. The Man and His Hour. Baton Rouge. LSU Press.
Phillips, Ulrich (1911). The Correspondence of Robert Toombs, Alexander H. Stephens and Howell Cobb. Washington. American Historical Association.
Stauffer, J. (2008). Giants: The Powerful Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. New York, Twelve.
Faust, Drew Gilpin. James Henry Hammond and the Old South: A Design for Mastery. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.
Blesser, Carol. (1988). Secret and Sacred. The Diaries of James Henry Hammond, A Southern Slaveholder. New York. Oxford University Press.
Boykin, Samuel (2009). A Memorial Volume of the Honorable Howell Cobb. Sacramento. Creative Media Partners.
Winthrop, R. C. (1887). Tribute to William Aiken, Ex-Governor of South Carolina, at the Annual Meeting of the Trustees of the Peabody Education Fund. Cambridge, MA. University Press.
Precise data on economic activity in Antebellum America doesn’t exist, but lots of academic effort has been put in to provide the estimates shown throughout the text. The author here has relied most heavily on works by Robert L. Ransom, R. A, Margot, Douglas C. North, Claudia Goldin & Frank Lewis, and D. M. Potter, along with the statistical models (used below) by L. D. Johnson and S. H. Williamson in their valuable website titled Measuring Worth. Other helpful works below.
Scheller, B. (2010). Colonial New England on 5 Shillings a Day. New York. Thames & Hudson, Inc.
Goldstone, L. (2005). Dark Bargain: Slavery, Profits, and the Struggle for the Constitution. New York. Walker Publishing Company, Inc.
Wright, R. E. (2008). One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton, Jefferson, and the History of What We Owe. New York. McGraw-Hill.
Fraser, S., & Gerstle, G. (2005). Ruling America: A History of Wealth and Power in a Democracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
9. Native Americans
Ehle, John (1988). Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation. New York. Anchor Books.
Langguth, A. J. (2010). Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War. New York. Simon & Schuster, Inc.
10. Black Experience
Johnson, C., Smith, P., & WGBH Series Research Team. (1998). Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. New York. Harcourt Brace & Company.
Bernard, J. (1990). Journey Towards Freedom: The Story of Sojourner Truth. New York. The Feminist Press at The City University of New York.
Cramer, C. E. (1997). Black Demographic Data, 1790-1860: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT. Greenwood Press.
Hochschild, A. (2006). Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves. Boston. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Lindsey, H. O. (1994). A History of Black America. Secaucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc.
McPherson, J. M. (1991). The Negro’s Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union. New York. Ballantine Books.
Wilkerson, I. (2010). The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. New York. Random House, Inc.
Fox-Genovese, E., Genovese, E. (2008). Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in the Southern Slaveholders’ New World Order. New York. Cambridge University Press.
Fitzhugh, George (1854). Sociology for the South or Failure of Free Society. Richmond. A. Morris.
Fitzhugh, George (1856). Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters.
Foner, E. (2010). The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Horton, J. O., & Horton, L. E. (2006). Slavery and the Making of America. Oxford. Oxford University Press, Inc.
Muelder, Owen (2011). Theodore Dwight Weld and the American Anti-Slavery Society. Jefferson, NC. McFarland & Company.
Manning, C. (2007). What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery, and the Civil War. New York. Alfred A. Knopf.
Finney, Charles (1977). The Autobiography of Charles Finney. Minneapolis. Bethany House Publishers.
Barnes, Albert (2008). The Church and Slavery. Charleston. Bibliobazaar.
McKivigan, J. R., & Snay, M. (1998). Religion and the Antebellum Debate over Slavery. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press.
Noll, M. A. (2006). The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.
13. The West
Barbour, B. H., Coleman, W., Deverell, W., Edmonds, A. O., Nadaline, C., Nugent, W., O’Neal, B., Perrin, P., Price, B. B., & Shreve, B., American West Chronicle. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, Ltd.
14. The War with Mexico
Greenberg, Amy (2012). A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 Invasion of Mexico. New York. Vintage Books.
Harrold, S. (2010). Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press.
16. John Brown
Horwitz, T. (2011). Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. New York. Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
McGinty, B. (2009). John Brown’s Trial. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Reynolds, D. S. (2005). John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights. New York. Alfred A. Knopf.
17. Run-Up To The Civil War
Holt, M. F. (1978). The Political Crisis of the 1850s. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Leech, M. (1986). Reveille in Washington. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.
Chesnut, M. B. (1982). The Diary from Dixie. B. A. Williams (Ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Anbinder, T. (2002). Five Points: The 19th-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World's Most Notorious Slum. New York. Penguin Group.
Stampp, K. M. (1990). America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink. New York. Oxford University Press.
Woodward, C. V. (1968). The Burden of Southern History. (revised ed.). Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
Oates, S. B. (1998). The Whirlwind of War: Voices of the Storm, 1861-1865. New York. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Foner, E. (2005). Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. New York. Alfred A. Knopf.
Kantrowitz, S. (2012). More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889. New York. Penguin Press
Borneman, Walter (2010). Iron Horses. America’s Race to Bring America’s Railroads West. New York. Little Brown & Company.
Leadbeater, C. W. (1998). Freemasonry and Its Ancient Mystic Rites. New York. Gramercy Books.
Macoy, R. (1989). A Dictionary of Freemasonry: A Compendium of Masonic History, Symbolism, Rituals, Literature, and Myth. New York. Bell Publishing Company.
Ridley, J. (2001). The Freemason: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society. New York. Arcade Publishing, Inc.
Wallace-Murphy, T. (2006). The Enigma of the Freemasons: Their History and Mystical Connections. New York. The Disinformation Company, Ltd.
Madsen, A. (2001). John Jacob Astor: America’s First Multimillionaire. New York. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Stiles, T. J. (2009). The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. New York. Alfred A. Knopf
Formal Bibliography: "Photography Wing"
Part A. Photography Reference Books
Albaugh III, W. A. (1993). Confederate Faces: A Pictorial Review of the Individuals in the Confederate Armed Forces. Wilmington, NC. Broadfoot Publishing Company.
Allardice, B. S. (1995). More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge. LA. Louisiana State University Press.
Davis, W. C. (Ed.). (1984). The End of an Era: The Image of War, 1861-1865. (Vol. 6). Garden City, NY. Doubleday & Company, Inc.
Davis, W. C., & Hoffman, J. (Eds.). (1991). The Confederate General. (Vol. 4). National Historical Society.
Frassanito, W. A. (1978). Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day. New York. Charles Scribner's Sons.
Hunt, R. D., & Brown, J. R. (1990). Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue. Gaithersburg, MD. Olde Soldier Books, Inc.
Kunhardt, D. M., & Kunhardt, P. B. (Eds.). Mathew Brady and His World. Time-Life Books from Pictures in the Meserve Collection.
Miles, D. H. (Ed.). (1911). The Photographic History of the Civil War in Ten Volumes: Poetry and Eloquence of Blue and Gray. Springfield, MA. Patriot Publishing Company.
Turner, W. A. (1983). Even More Confederate Faces. Orange, VA. Moss Publications.
Warner, E. J. (1986). Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge, LA. Louisiana State University Press.
Warner, E. J. (1986). Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge, LA. Louisiana State University Press.
Warner, E. J. (1991). Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge, LA. Louisiana State University Press.
Part B. Civil War Battles
Foote, S. (1958). The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York. Random House, Inc.
Freeman, D. S. (1947). R. E. Lee: A Biography. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons.
McPherson, J. M. (1988). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York. Oxford University Press, Inc.
Symonds, C. L. (1983.) A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War. Annapolis, MD: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America.
Time-Life Books Editors (Eds.). (1991). Echoes of Glory: Illustrated Atlas of the Civil War. Alexandria, VA. Time-Life Books.
Wagner, M. E., Gallagher, G. W., & Finkelman, P. (Eds.). (2002). The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference. New York. Simon & Schuster, Inc.
While the analytics and narrative throughout the website are the author’s, credit for the factual foundations belongs with academic scholars and everyday history buffs, whose books and articles have enabled this exploration of the antebellum period.
In a perfect world, the text throughout the website would include detailed cites and footnotes, recognizing the sources and origins behind all the writing, together with a detailed topical index.
However, realities of time and space have prohibited these worthy outcomes. As it is, the website has been well over a decade in the making, and is already of a length that even the most curious may find challenging.
Still, some basic recognition of source materials is required, and it falls into two major buckets. The first being books in the author’s personal library, collected over some five decades and accessed for both pleasure and research. The second being reliance on the truly amazing access to source documents now available from home via the internet.
While a fairly complete bibliography is shown below, several books and scholars deserve special mention for having shaped whatever insights have materialized.
One such scholar is Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who served as General Editor on two works that proved invaluable to a simple understanding “what happened and when,” across the entire antebellum time frame.
Here are a few other particularly helpful works, loosely arranged according to the timing of events covered in the website:
Walter Isaacson’s 2003 biography Benjamin Franklin: An American Life captures the transition from British rule to the creation of the great experiment in democracy, and the amazing exploits of the one “founding father” to sign all four of the nation’s foundational documents; the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France, the 1783 Treaty of Paris with Britain and the 1787 U.S. Constitution.
In Alexander Hamilton (2005), Ron Chernow follows Washington’s right hand man on the battlefield and then in the political arena as he sponsors the Federalist cause, launches a capitalist economy and the soft money supply and banking systems to support it, before being killed in a famous duel by his arch enemy, Vice-President Aaron Burr at only 49 years of age.
The role of the judicial branch and the U.S. Supreme Court and early clashes over its authority and early rulings are covered in James Simon’s 2002 book, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States.
Two works that treat the introduction and spread of slavery in Colonial America are: Heather Williams’ American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction (2014) and the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2010) by David Eltis and David Richardson.
Thomas Jefferson’s Farm Book (1774-1824) is a good starting place to spot the origins of the racial stereotyping of enslaved Africans as a “separate and inferior species” from white men, and, in turn, the rationalizations that follow for their confinement and harsh treatment.