more well-known factors leading to secession, including competing ideologies of slavery and wage labor, federalism and states' rights, and industrialization and agriculture. Furthermore, although Shelden quantifies and corroborates when the sources allow it, they often do not, and much of the importance of the social and interpersonal factors on congressmen's political actions and decisions has to be inferred. Shelden shows, for instance, that there was a great deal of activity in cross-sectional, cross-partisan associations, but with the exception of her analysis of the Young Indian Club, there is little to suggest to what extent membership in such associations influenced congressmen's political decision making. Shelden colorfully and convincingly demonstrates that these men had complicated and significant personal relationships with each other, but the extent to which these relationships affected policy is often, and necessarily, only assumed. Despite this uncertainty, the weight and force of Shelden's evidence of this strong fraternal culture should convince readers that the unique atmosphere of antebellum Washington, D.C., deserves consideration in an analysis of sectional crisis politics. While the factual overviews that open each chapter provide a good amount of background detail on the events leading to secession, this is not a book for someone
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 5, 2015
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