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At the Edge of the Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise That Saved the Union Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 11, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Robert Remini's short, elegant new book "At the Edge of the Precipice" tells the story of the Compromise of 1850 and of Clay's role in it. Remini examines the factors leading to the near break-up of the Union in 1850 that showed why compromise was both difficult and essential. He offers a detailed look at the legislative process and the play of various political interests in enacting the Compromise. Clay's strengths and contributions to the Compromise are emphasized as are his failings. At the end, it fell to Stephen Douglas to bring the process to a conclusion.
Remini's book is of avowedly more than historical interest. He tries to teach a lesson about what compromise is and why it is important. To be successful, for Remini, a compromise must give each party something of value so that each may claim success regarding something of essential importance. Conversely, each party must be prepared to negotiate and not press certain matters that are of less importance.Read more ›
Remini shows how Clay's battle to move away from party ideologies to focus on problem solving and, therefore, compromise, shows us the historical antecedents to today's similar conflicts, ones that have brought current Congress into gridlock, with some steadfast in their all or nothing at all approach.
This book should be required reading for everybody in the US Congress, The House and Senate alike!
As the author explains, Clay was very involved in brokering the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and its key stipulation of the 36-30 latitude as a line of slavery demarcation and the lowered tariffs of the Compromise Tariff of 1833 - both to placate sectional differences. But the Mexican War of 1846-48 and its acquisition of vast Mexican lands ranging from Texas to the Pacific Ocean was highly disruptive to a fragile sectional balance. The author notes that the Wilmot Proviso, which was introduced several times in Congress during the War and sought to ban slavery from any acquired territories, confirmed Southern fears that their "peculiar institution" was under attack.
Clay, a thrice-defeated candidate for president, after 1848 recognized that the rhetoric and threats being exchanged among sections and segments of the country had reached perhaps an all time high in acrimony; intimations of secession were rampant on the part of the "ultras" from the South. The author gives Clay, now an old man, credit for selflessly using his considerable reputation and legislative skills in pushing for a compromise to smooth over this latest national crisis.Read more ›
The narrative is much more straightforward and lacks the polish of earlier works, and the actual subject treatment is rather cursory. A very complex subject is dealt with in less than 150 pages, and anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the antebellum era will be left none the wiser. At best, this is an introductory work, probably suited for advanced high school students or non-specialist college students. Anyone coming to this book hoping for a deep, thorough analysis will likely come away feeling less than satisfied.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 on March 24, 2014 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 on November 28, 2013 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 The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt 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
At the Edge of the Precipice by the distinguished historian, Robert Remini, is a fine little book that chronicles the sad story of the inevitable failure of political compromise... Read morePublished on July 12, 2011 by Military Warrior
Robert Remini is a true expert on Jacksonian America. His works on Jackson, Clay and Webster are classics as is his account of the Battle of New Orleans. Read morePublished on May 22, 2011 by George J. Heidemark