by Leon Reed
No Greater Calamity for the Country: North-South Conflict, Secession and the Onset of the Civil War
The year-long crisis that started with the first summer months of the 1860 presidential campaign and ended in the first major combat at Manassas is one of the most consequential 12 months in American history. Over that eventful year, one of the two major political parties shattered (and lost the next six presidential elections -- the longest losing streak in American history). Four regional candidates were nominated for president, and the minority supporting secession in southern states shifted gradually to strong majorities. At the same time, many in the north who were inclined to shrug off the departure of southern states came around to strong opposition and answered President Lincoln's call for a volunteer army. In July 1861, a civil war started that was the most catastrophic event in the nation's history -- 2% of the population killed in four years, another 2% widowed or orphaned, and another 1% left permanently maimed (the demographic equivalent of 15 million lives ended or shattered today). The effects of the war were long-lasting and are still some of the strongest economic and political influences in 21st century life.
This book uses hundreds of contemporary newspaper articles, diaries, and the contents of a never-before-seen contemporary scrapbook to explain how the country descended into civil war. It introduces us to the major characters and events of this vital period as well as more obscure people and events that helped shape our great American tragedy.
- S/L #34453