THE HISTORY CLUB

A place for history teachers, students and enthusiasts

The American Civil War Era
Reading Group

Starting May 2017

This is a friendly group of people interested in reading great books about the American Civil War Period c.1846 to 1877. It is intended to cover surveys of the American Civil War Era and the time preceding and following it.

Please Read: Suggestions on how to Meaningfully and Constructively Participate in our History Reading Groups

Thank you for your interest.

Our Current Book and Reading

Current Book Reading Schedule :: Week and Chapter Name

  1. Prologue: From the Halls of Montezuma and The United States at Midcentury

    Thought Questions
    - How did the Mexican War disrupt existing American political relationships?
    - What were some of the ironic situations created by personal beliefs about the Mexican War?
    - In what ways did the "transportation revolution" in the two generations before the Civil War effect the United States?
    - How did the Christian Evangelical movement known as the "Second Great Awakening" effect the rising conflict over slavery?
    - How did demographic changes effect the social and economic development of the United States?
    - What are the characteristics of and factors that influenced the "American System of Manufactures" and made it successful?
    - What were the differences at midcentury between the laboring class in the American Northern states and their counterparts in Europe?
    - How and why were banks the cause of emerging social and political differences?
    - How was free labor essential for and slavery antithetical to the development of American capitalism?
    - How did the role of gender roles change in the period before the Civil War and how were women agents of change in the period prior to the Civil War?
    - What were some of the differences that developed between North and South in the generation before the Civil War?

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 1

    Primary Sources
    - Lincoln: Speech to the Illinois Legislature - January 11, 1837
    - Lincoln: Address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society at Milwaukee, Wisconsin - September 30, 1859
    - American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses
    Theodore D. Weld
    - The American Anti-Slavery Society - 1839

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Begin Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  2. Mexico Will Poison Us

    Thought Questions
    - What was the doctrine of "Manifest Destiny" and how did Whigs and Democrats understand it differently?
    - What were the terms that ended the Mexican War and how did this disrupt the Whig Democrat sectional balance?
    - What were the different "circles of thought" that existed in different supporters and opponents of slavery in general and the expansion of recently squired territory?
    - What were the different attitudes in the North regarding slavery and free blacks?
    - How did Southern attitudes towards slavery evolve before the Civil War and how did these mirror attitudes in Northern states regarding slaves and free blacks?
    - What was the The Wilmot Proviso and the Missouri Compromise?
    - What was the concept of "Popular Sovereignty"?
    - Who were "Conscious" and "Cotton" Whigs?
    - Who were the "Barnburner" Democrats?
    - What was the Liberty Party?

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 2

    Primary Sources
    - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; February 2, 1848
    - May 11, 1846: War Message to Congress - James K. Polk
    - June 10, 1846: Message to Senate Regarding Oregon - James K. Polk
    - August 14, 1848: Message Regarding Slavery in the Territories - James K. Polk
    - 1820 - The Missouri Compromise
    -
    The Wilmot Proviso, 1846
    - William Henry Seward - The “Irrepressible Conflict” Speech - 1858

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Articles
    - James K. Polk - Miller Center at University of Virginia
  3. An Empire for Slavery

    Thought Questions
    - How did the southern slave states reject states rights and insist on greater federal power in to interfere with the states?
    - What was "Nullification" and how did Abolitionists use it?
    - What were "Personal Liberty Laws"?
    - What was the Fugitive Slave Law and how was its enforcement funded?
    - What rights did slaves have in defending themselves against the Fugitive Slave Law?
    - Why did the Fugitive Slave Law anger the North?
    - How were Evangelical and Anabaptist Christians involved in resistance to slavery?
    - Who were the "Fire Eaters"?
    - How did Millard Fillmore work to support the Fugitive Slave Law?
    - Who were the Butternuts?
    - What were Northern "Exclusion Laws"?
    - Who was the woman that created such a great war, what did she do and what was her motivation for her activity?
    - How were the economic and infrastructure circumstances different in the North and South?
    - What reasons have been proposed for the failure of the South to develop self sufficiency in industry, manufacturing and food?
    - What economic circumstances caused the South to demand a resumption of the Atlantic slave trade and expansion into new lands?
    - Who were the Filibusterers, what was their purpose and motivation and how did the concept of Manifest Destiny change after the Mexican War?
    - What was "Nullification" and how did Filibusterers use it?
    - What role did Cuba, Nicaragua and Spain play with America in the early 1850s?
    - Who was William Walker?
    - What issue is the common root for all major national disputes in the 1850s?
    - What issue is the common root for the sectional animosity in the 1850s?
    - How did Christian beliefs play a role in abolition in the North and expansion in the South?

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 3

    Primary Sources
    - The Compromise of 1850 Documents
    - Fugitive Slave Act; September 18, 1850
    - January 29, 1850 - The Compromise of 1850 was introduced by Senator Henry Clay in a series of resolutions.
    - February 5 and 6, 1850 - Senator Henry Clay defended his compromise proposals in a speech.
    - March 4, 1850 - Senator John Calhoun's speech against the Compromise of 1850 was delivered. Calhoun was too weak to give the speech so it was read by Senator James Murray Mason of Virginia.
    - March 7, 1850 - Senator Daniel Webster delivered his speech in favor of the Compromise of 1850 ("Seventh of March" speech)
    - "Mr. Clay's Resolutions," The North-Carolina Standard. (Raleigh, N.C.), February 6, 1850.
    - "Mr. Calhoun's Speech," The North-Carolina Standard. (Raleigh, N.C.), March 13, 1850.
    - "Mr. Webster," The Daily Crescent. (New Orleans, La.), March 16, 1850.
    - "The Fugitive Slave Law," Anti-Slavery Bugle. (New-Lisbon, Ohio), October 12, 1850.
    - Uncle Robin in His Cabin in Virginia, And Tom Without One in Boston by J. W. Page

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

    Articles
    - Zachary Taylor Biography - Miller Center
    - Millard Fillmore Biography - Miller Center
  4. Slavery, Rum, and Romanism

    Thought Questions
    - How did the election of 1852 begin the destruction of the Whig party?
    - How was Franklin Pierce an example of "Northern Men with Southern Sympathizes"?
    - In what ways did Franklin Pierce aggravate and ameliorate sectional conflict?

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 4

    Primary Sources
    - The Life of Franklin Pierce (Annotated) by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Articles
    - Franklin Pierce Biography - Miller Center

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  5. The Crime Against Kansas

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 5

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  6. Mudsills and Greasy Mechanics for A. Lincoln

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 6

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  7. The Revolution of 1860

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 7

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  8. The Counterrevolution of 1861

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Primary Sources
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 8

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  9. Facing Both Ways: The Upper South’s Dilemma 10. Amateurs Go to War

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 9

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  10. Farewell to the Ninety Days’ War

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 10

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  11. Blockade and Beachhead: The Salt-Water War, 1861– 1862

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 11

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  12. The River War in 1862

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 12

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  13. The Sinews of War

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 13

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  14. Billy Yank’s Chickahominy Blues

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 14

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  15. We Must Free the Slaves or Be Ourselves Subdued

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 15

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  16. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 16

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  17. John Bull’s Virginia Reel

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Primary Sources
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 17

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  18. Three Rivers in Winter, 1862– 1863 20. Fire in the Rear

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Primary Sources
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 18

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  19. Long Remember: The Summer of ‘63

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 19

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  20. Johnny Reb’s Chattanooga Blues

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 20

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  21. When This Cruel War Is Over

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 21

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  22. If It Takes All Summer

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 22

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  23. After Four Years of Failure

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 23

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  24. We Are Going To Be Wiped Off the Earth

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 24

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  25. South Carolina Must Be Destroyed

    Thought Questions
    - X

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 25

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  26. We Are All Americans and Epilogue: To the Shoals of Victory Afterword

    Supplemental Biography Reading
    - Abraham Lincoln: 2 Volumes by Michael Burlingame - Chapter 26

    Primary Sources
    - X

    American Literature Focus Supplemental Reading
    - Finish Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

American Civil War Era Group Reading List

  1. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson
    (This has also been published as an unabridged single volume and two volumes as well as an unabridged audiobook. It has also been published in abridged form - avoid this)
  2. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner
    (There is an abridged version of this and should be avoided)
  3. American Slavery, American Freedom by Edmund S. Morgan
  4. Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 by Brenda Wineapple
  5. The Road to Disunion, Two Volumes: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854 and Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861 by William W. Freehling
  6. The Civil War, Three Volumes by Shelby Foote
  7. Look Away!: A History of the Confederate States of America by William C. Davis
  8. The South Vs. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War by William W. Freehling
  9. Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 by Elizabeth R. Varon
  10. A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910 by Steven Hahn

After the first books listed above we will select the next books we read from the list on this page

Provide us feedback and suggestions for our next book by clicking here