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The National Book Award–winning biographer of Andrew Jackson focuses on Henry Clay, who as an aging, ill Kentucky senator spearheaded the Compromise of 1850, a complex balancing of Northern and Southern interests that averted Southern secession. The compromise guaranteed that California would be a free state and New Mexico and Utah free territories; gave Texas $10 million in return for its relinquishing its claim to parts of New Mexico; the enactment of a more effective fugitive slave law; and the abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia. The compromise gave the North 10 years to industrialize and find a leader in Abraham Lincoln who could restore the Union. Clay, who also delivered the 1820 Missouri Compromise, emerges as a complex figure, a slave owner who regarded slavery as an evil that betrayed American values. He was an electrifying orator and remarkable statesman who lacked discipline (he indulged in carousing, gambling, and drinking). Not all readers will linger over the legal details of the compromise, but Remini ably dissects a dangerous moment in the nation's history and the remarkable but flawed man who ushered the nation through it. (May)
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The author of such definitive histories as Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union (1991) here turns in a case study of the Compromise of 1850. It was not the first deflection of civil war by Clay, who engineered the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the resolution to the nullification crisis of 1832. But it may have been the Kentucky senator’s most consequential compromise if, as Remini argues, it postponed for a decade a war the North could not have won in 1850. Describing Clay’s view of compromise as victory for both parties and detailing the deadlock over slavery’s status in the territories, which needed to be broken to quash secession, Remini recounts the strategy Clay devised to placate the South’s grievances. Inaugurated with Clay’s speech, soaring oratory by Daniel Webster, and a bitter rebuttal from the dying John Calhoun, the debate over Clay’s compromise boiled until the death of President Taylor and the tactical talents of Stephen Douglas cooled down sectional acrimony and produced Clay’s compromise. Condensed with well-dramatized brevity, Remini’s account will captivate the American-history audience. --Gilbert TaylorSee all Editorial Reviews
I love Remini's work, even though I am no fan of Andrew Jackson. His full-length biographies, for me at least, set the standard by which other biographies should be measured. Read morePublished 10 days ago by chefdevergue
At the Edge of the Precipice is a well-written, concise history of how Senator Henry Clay engineered compromises that preserved the Union, prevented secession, at least until 1860. Read morePublished 8 months ago by John Barell
This was an assigned text for my son's US History course. He is a high school sophomore. He found it challenging yet readable. The topic was interesting.Published 17 months ago by Lori
A very interesting perspective on the first half of the 19th century in America but not a lot of meat in the analysis.Published 21 months ago by Kevin J. Ashley
Robert V Remini presents a "Constitutional View" on how "Compromise in Government" always defeats Totalitarianism. Places the reader in the fight to save a nation.Published on May 10, 2013 by Stanley B. Platt
In the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1848, the United States found itself in possession of a great deal of real estate to the west of its previous border. Read morePublished on September 21, 2012 by Kurt A. Johnson
This book is excellent for those being introduced to the ante bellum years. It is also a solid review for those already familiar with the subject. There is no fluff in this work. Read morePublished on May 18, 2012 by GentlemenJack