THE UNION DIVIDED: Party Conflict in the Civil War North

Mark Neely, Jr., Author, Neely, Author Harvard Univ. $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-674-00742-0

How did the Constitution shape the Union's conduct in the Civil War, and how did electoral competition (and shifting public sentiment) in the northern states affect the rhetorical strategies and military calculations of both Union and Confederate leaders? Pulitzer Prize–winning Penn State historian Neely (The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties), asserting that the political history of the war years has been "sadly neglected" by scholars, addresses these questions and others in this engaging volume. Challenging the generally accepted view that the two-party system was "an unalloyed advantage the North held over the South," Neely clearly and deftly demonstrates that the system and all that came with it—the waste associated with party patronage and the diatribes of the partisan press, for example—did little to help the Union's cause and much to delay victory. He shows how election-year cycles affected Lincoln's military planning: maneuvering to avoid large numbers of casualties before crucial public votes, he did not always deploy his armies to best advantage. Neely also explores the way in which the concept of a "loyal opposition" was essentially abandoned during the war years, with Republicans routinely branding their Democratic opponents as (at best) unwitting Confederate fifth-columnists and (at worst) outright traitors. Though his book is designed to be "tentative and suggestive"—in other words, to replace the accepted wisdom with thoughtful queries and to provoke debate—Neely provides a bold and informed reappraisal of Northern party and factional discord and its impact on the conduct and outcome of the Civil War. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/04/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-674-04135-6
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-674-01610-1
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