Washington brotherhood : politics, social life, and the coming of the Civil War

Shelden, Rachel A., 1981-

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  • Creator Rachel A. Shelden
  • Format Books
  • Publication Chapel Hill, North Carolina : The University of North Carolina Press, 2013. ©2013
  • Series
  • Physical Details
    • 1 online resource (296 p.)
  • ISBNs 9781469610863, 1469610868, 9781469612683, 1469612682
  • OCLC ocn865483367


  • "Traditional portrayals of politicians in antebellum Washington, D.C., describe a violent and divisive society, full of angry debates and violent duels, a microcosm of the building animosity throughout the country. Yet, in Washington Brotherhood, Rachel Shelden paints a more nuanced portrait of Washington as a less fractious city with a vibrant social and cultural life. Politicians from different parties and sections of the country interacted in a variety of day-to-day activities outside traditional political spaces and came to know one another on a personal level. Shelden shows that this engagement by figures such as Stephen Douglas, John Crittenden, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Stephens had important consequences for how lawmakers dealt with the sectional disputes that bedeviled the country during the 1840s and 1850s--particularly disputes involving slavery in the territories. Shelden uses primary documents--from housing records to personal diaries--to reveal the ways in which this political sociability influenced how laws were made in the antebellum era. Ultimately, this Washington "bubble" explains why so many of these men were unprepared for secession and war when the winter of 1860-61 arrived"--


  • Description based upon print version of record.
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • English


  • Cover; Contents; Acknowledgments; INTRODUCTION: The Washington Fraternity in the Mid Nineteenth Century; PROLOGUE: The Politician's Landscape in Antebellum Washington; CHAPTER ONE: A Perfect Tower of Babel: The Culture of Congress and the Wilmot Proviso; CHAPTER TWO: Odd Fellows, Teetotalers, and Young Indians: Washington Associations and the Election of 1848; CHAPTER THREE: Behind the Curtain Where Great Men Relax: Capital Social Life and the Compromise of 1850; CHAPTER FOUR: An F Street Mess: Federal Living Arrangements and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
  • CHAPTER FIVE: The Most Immoral and Corrupt Place in the Union: Vice, Violence, and the Caning of Charles SumnerCHAPTER SIX: We Know No Lecompton Here: Cross-Partisan Relationships and the Fight over Kansas; CHAPTER SEVEN: Like Taking a Last Leave of a Brother: The Washington Community Faces the Secession Crisis; EPILOGUE: The Washington Brotherhood in War and Peace; Notes; Bibliography; Index; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; Q; R; S; T; U; V; W; Y
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