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Download America's Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise that Preserved the Union Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample Americas Great Debate: Henry Clay, Stephen A. Douglas, and the Compromise that Preserved the Union (Unabridged), by Fergus M. Bordewich
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (80 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Fergus M. Bordewich Narrator: Norman Dietz Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The Mexican War introduced vast new territories into the United States, among them California and the present-day Southwest. When gold was discovered in California in the great Gold Rush of 1849, the population swelled, and settlers petitioned for admission to the Union. But the U.S. Senate was precariously balanced with 15 free states and 15 slave states. Up to this point, states had been admitted in pairs, one free and one slave, to preserve that tenuous balance in the Senate. Would California be free or slave? So began a paralyzing crisis in American government, and the longest debate in Senate history.

Fergus Bordewich tells the epic story of the Compromise of 1850 with skill and vigor, bringing to life two generations of senators who dominated the great debate. Luminaries such as John Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay - who tried unsuccessfully to cobble together a compromise that would allow for California's admission and simultaneously put an end to the nation's agony over slavery - were nearing the end of their long careers. Rising stars such as Jefferson Davis, William Seward, and Stephen Douglas - who ultimately succeeded where Clay failed - would shape the country's politics as slavery gradually fractured the nation.

The Compromise saved the Union from collapse, but it did so at a great cost. The gulf between North and South over slavery widened with the strengthened Fugitive Slave Law that was part of the complex Compromise. In America's Great Debate, Fergus Bordewich takes us back to a time when compromise was imperative, when men swayed one another in Congress with the power of their ideas and their rhetoric, and when partisans on each side reached across the aisle to preserve the Union from tragedy.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Carolyn | 12/5/2013

    " Numerous parallels with our current politics led me to wonder if we should have allow the Union to split back then. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Robert Boivin | 11/23/2013

    " Very good coverage of an often misunderstood time in our nations history, well worth reading "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jim | 10/15/2013

    " I highly recommend this book. I've read tons of books on the civil war, but none on the key period leading up to it. The 1850 debate is fascinating and Bordewich does a tremendous job making the story come alive. It's terrific. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by David Horney | 10/12/2013

    " very readable, accessible and entertaining. excellent. "

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About the Author
Author Fergus M. Bordewich

Journalist Fergus M. Bordewich has written on American history as well as human rights and other issues for the New York Times, Smithsonian, American Heritage, the Atlantic Monthly, Reader’s Digest, and other periodicals. He is the author of Killing the White Man’s Indian: Reinventing Native Americans at the End of the Twentieth Century; My Mother’s Ghost; and Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement. He lives in Barrytown, New York.