Thursday, September 22, 2016

Booknotes: Apostle of Union

New Arrival:
Apostle of Union: A Political Biography of Edward Everett
by Matthew Mason (UNC Press, 2016).

Edward Everett of Massachusetts is best known today as the long-winded headline speaker at the Gettysburg National Cemetery (or whatever the official name was for it at the time) dedication on November 19, 1863 who found himself upstaged by Lincoln's brief remarks. But the man deserves to remembered more for his long and distinguished political career. In addition to being a noted orator, he served his home state as U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and Governor. He was also Millard Fillmore's Secretary of State for a brief period during the administration's final months. As Ambassador to Great Britain, he held the nation's most important foreign diplomatic post, as well.

Apostle of Union explores in full Everett's life in politics, with special concentration on his stances on weighty national issues related to slavery and Union. From the description: "By charting Everett's changing stance toward slavery over time, Mason sheds new light on antebellum conservative politics, the complexities of slavery and its related issues for reform-minded Americans, and the ways in which secession turned into civil war. As Mason demonstrates, Everett's political and cultural efforts to preserve the Union, and the response to his work from citizens and politicians, help us see the coming of the Civil War as a three-sided, not just two-sided, contest."

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