Paperback / softback
February 1, 1988
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6.00 Inches (US)
.75 Pounds (US)
$32.00 USD, £26.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

A House Divided

Sectionalism and Civil War, 1848-1865

What caused the Civil War? Perhaps no question in American history has attracted more interest or sparked more debate. A House Divided presents a fresh and balanced interpretation that challenges the view of slavery as a largely artificial or symbolic issue in the conflict between two incompatible societies. While recognizing the impact of other political disputes and of such concerns as temperance and nativism, Richard Sewell refocuses attention on slavery as the root of sectionalism and, ultimately, the war.

A House Divided traces the growth of bitter cetional discord in the years after 1848, when the acquisition of new American territories rekindled old controversies over the expansion of slavery. A series of compromises forestalled the crisis of secession but increasingly divided the country along slavery's lines. Attitudes toward slavery also influenced the conduct and consequences of the war that followed. The union army rapidly accepted the enlistment of emancipated slaves, while the Confederacy faced both subtle subversion from its black labor firce and sagging morale from the alveless Southern whites who felt disproportionately burdened by the war effort. Sewell's rich account of the war covers both military and home fronts and traces the birth of plans to reconstruct the Union and deal with the legacy of slavery.

About the Author

Richard H. Sewell is professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is author of John P. Hale and the Politics and Abolition and Ballots for Freedom: Antislavery Politics in the United States, 1837-1860.


"A provocative starting point for discussion, further study, and independent assessment."

- William H. Pease - History

"A well-writtem, traditional, and brief narrative of the period from the end of the Mexican War to the conclusion of the Civil War... Shows the value of traditional political history which is too often ignored in our rush to reconstruct the social texture of society."

- Thomas D. Morris - Civil War History

"Sewell's style is fast moving and very readable... An excellent volume summarizing the stormy period prior to the war as well as a look at the military and home fronts."

"The best short treatment of the sectional conflict and Civil War available... Sewell convincingly demonstrates that the conflict was a revolutionary experience that fundamentally transformed the Republic and its people, and left a racial heritage that still confronts America today. The result is a poignant discussion of the central tragedy of American history and its legacy for the nation."

- William E. Gienapp - Georgia Historical Quarterly

"Tailored for adoption in college courses. Students will find that the author has a keen eye for vivid quotations, giving his prose welcome immediacy."

- Daniel W. Crofts - Journal of Southern History
Johns Hopkins University Press
The American Moment
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9780801835322 : a-house-divided-sewell
Paperback / softback
240 Pages
$32.00 USD