Distinguished historian Orville Vernon Burton suggests that, while abolishing slavery was the age's most extraordinary accomplishment, it was the inscribing of personal liberty into the nation's millennial aspirations that was its most profound.
America had always perceived providence in its progress, but in the 1840s and 1850s, a pessimism accompanied a marked extremism. Even amidst historic political compromises, the middle ground collapsed.
Burton shows how the president's authentic Southerness empowered him to conduct a civil war that redefined freedom as a personal right to be expanded to all Americans. In the violent decades to follow, while the extent of that freedom would be contested, its centrality to the definition of the country would not. Download and start listening now!