- Series: Oxford History of the United States (Book 5)
- Hardcover: 928 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (October 29, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780195078947
- ISBN-13: 978-0195078947
- ASIN: 0195078942
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 2.2 x 6.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 232 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (The Oxford History of the United States, Vol. 5)
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the latest installment in the Oxford History of the United States series, historian Howe, professor emeritus at Oxford University and UCLA (The Political Culture of the American Whigs), stylishly narrates a crucial period in U.S. history—a time of territorial growth, religious revival, booming industrialization, a recalibrating of American democracy and the rise of nationalist sentiment. Smaller but no less important stories run through the account: New York's gradual emancipation of slaves; the growth of higher education; the rise of the temperance movement (all classes, even ministers, imbibed heavily, Howe says). Howe also charts developments in literature, focusing not just on Thoreau and Poe but on such forgotten writers as William Gilmore Simms of South Carolina, who helped create the romantic image of the Old South, but whose proslavery views eventually brought his work into disrepute. Howe dodges some of the shibboleths of historical literature, for example, refusing to describe these decades as representing a market revolution because a market economy already existed in 18th-century America. Supported by engaging prose, Howe's achievement will surely be seen as one of the most outstanding syntheses of U.S. history published this decade. 30 photos, 6 maps. (Sept.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Both academics and lay readers praised What Hath God Wrought, but they appreciated it for different reasons. It is certainly an exhaustively researched and well-written historical surveyexactly what a volume in the Oxford History Series ought to be. American historians admired its elegant synthesis but also understood that Howe is attempting to lead his readers and colleagues away from the strictly economic explanations that have often dominated writing on this period. Historian Jill Lepore, for example, thought that the change in perspective helps Howe subtly explain many aspects of the period, such as the womens rights movement. Only historian Glenn C. Altschuler believed that Howe has some "axioms to grind" in his reworking of so-called Jacksonian Democracy. Howes approach also brings nonacademic readers back into the conversation, though at over 900 pages, the book is probably best suited for history buffs.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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The Era of Good Feelings and Jacksonian Era are both covered in this volume. The developments in the historical field are reflected in this volume as social, cultural, religious, economic, political, and military histories are all given attention. The development of the nation accelerated after the War of 1812 as many of the obstacles to western expansion were removed including any protection for Native Americans who inhabited lands coveted by whites. Howe covers the incredible racism of this tragedy in detail. While advocates of American Exceptionalism will criticize this volume for its treatment of these historical events, Howe draws up the historical record and primary sources in his interpretation of this era. The result is one that rejects American Exceptionalism.
Howe also goes into some depth in explaining how American politics worked in conjunction with changing economic differences within the country. The differences between North and South are given attention as slavery slowly faded in the North while growing in the South. He also explains how slavery was barely prevented from becoming legal in Illinois when it became a state and why. This establishes the growing schism between sections as political differences began to grow of the issue of slavery. However, as Howe is careful to note, they were kept in check as long as a balance of power was maintained. He ends the volume by covering the Mexican War which was brought on by the annexation of the Republic of Texas.
This is important because it was the expansion of slavery that would result in the American Civil War. The annexation of Texas was a deliberate expansion of slavery within the US and the Mexican War was another Southern attempt at expanding slavery which they felt was vital to its continuation as an economic system. Howe's treatment of this issue again reveals skillful use of primary sources which have given historians a pretty accurate picture of what was going on concerning this period of time. There will be those who disagree with Howe's assessment, but the facts are as Howe explains.
I am happy to include this volume in my library. As with all the volumes of this series, this entry is a good overall view of the time in question and makes for a good reference book. Unfortunately, the sheer magnitude of events precluded Howe from writing a larger book, but that would have taken additional volumes in itself. Howe's work is a good synopsis for readers interested in examining the overall themes of this time.