Journal of a graduate student in military history and the American Civil War

Next Class: Antebellum America: Prelude to Civil War

with 6 comments

After a short break, I’ll be diving into my next class which starts November 3rd. As is my custom, I’ve added this to “The Courses” page.

“Antebellum America: Prelude to Civil War” (starts November 3rd)

This course is an analysis of the conditions existing in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. The course focuses on the political, cultural/social, economic, security, leadership, and other issues that played roles in starting and shaping the Civil War. We will analyze the issues in the context of war and peace to determine whether or not such conflicts as civil wars can be avoided prior to their inception.

Required Texts:

TBD once the syllabus is available. For now, the list is as follows which is very light in comparison with my last class:

Publisher: W. W. Norton and Company

Half Slave and Half Free : The Roots of Civil War by Bruce Levine

Publisher: Hill and Wang

Road to Disunion : Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854, Volume 1 by William W. Freehling

Publisher: Oxford University Press
Since I read 14 books in Studies in U.S. Military History (a challenge but I loved IT!), this may be a light reading term.
Because William Freehling’s book, Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836, received such high acclaim, I’ve purchased it as well.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Finally, it would not surprise me at all if Daniel Walker Howe’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, What Hath God Wrought, was added to the reading list as well.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
All of these texts can be found on the “Antebellum America” shelf of my virtual library here.

6 Responses

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  1. Based on the reading list, it looks like a great course. I’m jealous! The extra Freehling book you picked up is an excellent choice.


    October 13, 2008 at 4:32 pm

  2. GOOD TO KNOW! That book looked like it had gotten some great reviews.

    Rene Tyree

    October 13, 2008 at 4:36 pm

  3. A bit far afield — particularly since the Nullification Crisis did not come to blows — but if by chance you become interested in nullification, Richard E. Ellis’s The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States’ Rights and the Nullification Crisis is an outstanding book and a perfect complement to Freehling’s work. Freehling concentrates on the internal politics and developments within South Carolina, arguing that some within the state — including John Calhoun — viewed it as as a rehearsal for a coming showdown over slavery. Ellis, on the other hand, concentrates on the effects of the Crisis on the Jacksonian coalition outside of South Carolina. He emphasizes the degree to which Jackson’s aggressive stance against nullification and secession made substantial numbers of his supporters queasy, particularly in the South, eventually causing some to reject Jackson in favor of the anti-Jacksonian coalition that ultimately became the Whigs. Fascinating stuff, but it’s more political history than military, so you may understandably conclude it’s too far from your chosen field of study.


    October 14, 2008 at 4:59 pm

  4. I think it’s a brilliant suggestion. I’ve found my interests expanding considerably to include political history as well as military because of the bidirectional cause and effect relationship between them. I appreciate the recommendation.



    Rene Tyree

    October 14, 2008 at 5:46 pm

  5. Rene,

    Watch out! My interest in American history started with the Civil War, but I found myself dragged backwards into the antebellum era because I found it more interesting.


    October 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  6. Elekratig – I completely understand! I have surprised myself with how much the antebellum 19th century grabs my imagination. I am “hooked!”

    Rene Tyree

    October 20, 2008 at 9:21 pm

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