1850s

Military Education and the Emerging Middle Class in the Old South

By Jennifer R. Green

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"This book argues that military education was an important institution in the development of the southern middle class as a regional group and as part of the national middle class in the late antebellum years. It explores class formation, professionalization, and social mobility in the 1840s and 1850s, using this data to define the middle class on a national level, while also identifying regionally specific characteristics of the emerging southern middle class."

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Thoreau's Maine Woods

By Henry David Thoreau and Dan Tobyne, photographer

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Beginning in 1847, Henry David Thoreau made three trips to the mostly unexplored Maine woods. Along the way he recorded his observations on the wildlife (flora and fauna), the weather, terrain, and on the nature of the people he met along the way, including loggers, rivermen, and his Abnaki guides. In Thoreau's Maine Woods, photographer Dan Tobyne captures the essence of the Maine Thoreau discovered and described in his book. The combination of short excerpts with stunning imagery carries Thoreau's work to a higher level, presenting it in both glowing words and pictures.

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A Mother's Book of Traditional Household Skills

By L.G. Abell

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In 1853, Mrs. L.G. Abell set down hundreds of domestic skills to be mastered with economy and grace by any woman wishing to run an efficient home. Light-years ahead of her time, Abell believed solidly in the virtue of the accomplished woman, one who is "skilled in the various arts of life, complete in her character, so constituted by her own industry and intelligence." While the arts of life may be defined rather differently today, the overall notion that "woman's work is never done" remains, and there is plenty of practical information here to aid any busy wife or super mom through her day including tips for marketing, cures for dozens of maladies from earaches to seasickness, how to remove stains, how to set a proper table, instilling good manners and behavior in children, and much more. Fun to browse through and an invaluable addition to any home, A Mother's Book of Traditional Household Skills will continue to please generations of mothers to come.

 

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Frederic Edwin Church and the National Landscape

By Franklin Kelly

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An analysis of Church's paintings between 1845 and 1860, culminating in his "Twilight in the Wilderness." The author posits that these paintings "address matters of pressing importance and interest to the American nation."

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The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston

By Albert J. von Frank

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"Before 1854, most Northerners managed to ignore the distant unpleasantness of slavery. But that year an escaped Virginia slave, Anthony Burns, was captured and brought to trial in Boston--and never again could Northerners look the other way. This is the story of Burns's trial and of how, arising in abolitionist Boston just as the incendiary Kansas-Nebraska Act took effect, it revolutionized the moral and political climate in Massachusetts and sent shock waves through the nation.

"In a searching cultural analysis, Albert J. von Frank draws us into the drama and the consequences of the case. He introduces the individuals who contended over the fate of the barely literate twenty-year-old runaway slave--figures as famous as Richard Henry Dana Jr., the defense attorney, as colorful as Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Bronson Alcott, who led a mob against the courthouse where Burns was held, and as intriguing as Moncure Conway, the Virginia-born abolitionist who spied on Burns's master.

"The story is one of desperate acts, even murder--a special deputy slain at the courthouse door--but it is also steeped in ideas. Von Frank links the deeds and rhetoric surrounding the Burns case to New England Transcendentalism, principally that of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His book is thus also a study of how ideas relate to social change, exemplified in the art and expression of Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Theodore Parker, Bronson Alcott, Walt Whitman, and others.

"Situated at a politically critical moment--with the Whig party collapsing and the Republican arising, with provocations and ever hotter rhetoric intensifying regional tensions--the case of Anthony Burns appears here as the most important fugitive slave case in American history. A stirring work of intellectual and cultural history, this book shows how the Burns affair brought slavery home to the people of Boston and brought the nation that much closer to the Civil War."

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Freeing Charles: The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War by Scott Christianson

Down the old plank road from Fredericksburg towards Culpeper--today's Route 3 West, you'll find the still-standing and ruined remains of many a grand Virginia plantation. One of these was home to Charles Nalle, who escaped from slavery in hopes of reuniting with his already-freed wife and children. In 1860, the streets of Troy, New York, became the scene of a struggle between the  Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad supporters and the slave hunters who had been sent to retrieve him.

Abraham Lincoln

By Wil Mara

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A brief overview of the life of the man who was President of the United States during the difficult years of the Civil War and who issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves.

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Growing Up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee

By Agnes Lee, edited and with a foreward by Mary Custis Lee deButts

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Robert E. Lee's young daughter kept a journal from the time she was twelve to the time she was seventeen. Agnes tells of her days at West Point where her father taught as well as time spent at the Female Institute in Staunton. Also mentioned are the death of her beloved grandparents and teaching slave children to read in preparation for their emancipation.
The second part consists of the recollections of Mildred, another Lee daughter, and family letters.
Includes an index.
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