John C. Calhoun and the Price of Union: A Biography

John Niven, Author Louisiana State University Press $26.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1451-3
Slaveholder, Senator from South Carolina, secretary of state, secretary of war and vice-president under the administrations of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, Calhoun (1782-1850) is portrayed as ambitious but deeply insecure, riven by conflict in both his political and private lives, by Niven, author of Martin Van Buren and The Romantic Era of American Politics. Because of his role in instigating the War of 1812, the author charges, Calhoun nearly destroyed the Union that he professed to support, while his struggle for a unified South and his intransigent defense of the Southern way of life helped to doom it. In this comprehensive study, Niven traces 40 years of complex national and state politics and bitter rivalries, and sympathetically portays Calhoun's domestic trials and recurring health problems. He died in despair, we're shown, anticipating the dissolution of the Union. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 388 pages - 978-0-8071-1858-0
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