Originally published in 1942, this perceptive and impartial analysis of one of the most baffling periods in American history--the months between the election of Lincoln and the fall of Fort Sumter--was a bold declaration of intellectual independence. David M. Potter revolted against the prevailing southern argument that Lincoln deliberately provoked the South into war to bring a violent end to slavery, arguing instead that the new president followed the least aggressive course available to him in dealing with the secession crisis. Based on a painstaking examination of the writings and statements of both the rthern principal players in the crisis and the other, lesser-kwn Republicans who revealed the sentiment of the party's rank and file, this groundbreaking study details the Republicans' attitudes to the threat of secession, their reaction to the actual withdrawal of the southern states, and their faith that the Union could be restored without violence. Daniel W. Crofts provides a new Introduction, setting Potter's account in the context of contemporary literature.
David M. Potter was Coe Professor of American History at Stanford University. He was the author of several books, including People of Plenty: Economic Abundance and The National Character and The Impending Crisis, 1848--1861.Daniel W. Crofts is professor of history at Trenton State University. He is the author of Old Southampton: Politics and Society in a Virginia County, 1824-1869 and Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists and the Secession Crisis.