• E-Books
  • Latest Catalogs
  • Books for Courses
  • Exhibits Listing
  • View Cart

About the Book

Beyond the Book

296 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 15 halftones, 2 tables, notes, bibl., index

Washington Brotherhood

Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War


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.

About the Author

Rachel A. Shelden is assistant professor of history at the University of Oklahoma.


Related Titles



© 2015 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy
Greenpress Initiative Network Solutions