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Great Heart of the Republic : St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War (Paperback) (Adam Arenson)
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The Civil War revealed what united as well as what divided Americans in the nineteenth century—not only in its deadly military conflict, but also in the broader battle of ideas, dueling moral systems, and competing national visions. Adam Arenson focuses this cultural civil war in St. Louis, the largest city along the border of slavery and freedom. From this vantage point, the Civil War era looks less like a fight between North and South over slavery or the West as a prize, and more like a messy struggle between northerners, southerners, and westerners, a clash among three incompatible regional visions, whose leaders argued about the definition and importance of Manifest Destiny and slavery politics. Arenson weaves this political history with analyses of paintings, architecture, and other cultural products, paying particular attention to institutions such as universities and railroads. The result is a vibrant history of the Civil War era from the heart of the Republic that enriches our understanding of America at a crossroads.