1831

Year of Eclipse

Louis Masur

Hill and Wang

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1776, 1861, 1929. Any high-school student should know what these years meant to American history. But wars and economic disasters are not our only pivotal events, and other years have, in a quieter way, swayed the course of our nation. 1831 was one of them, and in this striking new work, Louis Masur shows us exactly how.

The year began with a solar eclipse, for many an omen of mighty changes -- and for once, such predictions held true. Nat Turner's rebellion soon followed, then ever-more violent congressional arguments over slavery and tarrifs. Religious revivalism swept the North, and important observers (including Tocqueville) traveled the land, forming the opinions that would shape the world's view of America for generations to come. New technologies, meanwhile, were dramatically changing Americans' relationship with the land, and Andrew Jackson's harsh policies toward the Cherokee erased most Indians' last hopes of autonomy. As Masur's analysis makes clear, by 1831 it was becoming all too certain that political rancor, the struggle over slavery, the pursuit of individualism, and technological development might eclipse the glorious potential of the early republic--and lead the nation to secession and civil war. This is an innovative and challenging interpretation of a key moment in antibellum America.

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1831
ECLIPSE 
 
Everyone knew it was coming. "THE GREAT ECLIPSE OF 1831 will be one of the most remarkable that will again be witnessed in the United States for a long course of years," alerted Ash's Pocket Almanac. One editor reported that the February 12 eclipse would even surpass historic occasions when "the darkness was such that domestic fowls retired to roost" and "it appeared as if the moon rode unsteadily in her orbit, and the earth seemed to tremble on its axis."1On the day of the eclipse, from New England through the South, Americans looked to the heavens.

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Reviews

Praise for 1831

"It was the year of Nat Turner's slave rebellion, of the launching of Garrison's Liberator, of Tocqueville's visit to the United States, of Cyrus McCormick's invention of the mechanical reaper, and of many other pivotal events. Annus mirabilis, 1831 became the hinge of fate for the future of America, both good and ill. Louis Masur has captured the flavor of this crucial year in this captivating book."--James M. McPherson

Louis Masur has set himself up in a propitious perch astride the end of republican America and the ascendance of that messier thing called democracy. It is as if Alexis de Tocqueville returned and, with all the advantages of historical hindsight, rewrote his classic account of modern America's birth."--Joseph J. Ellis

"Not since Bernard De Voto's Year of Decision, 1846, published almost sixty years ago, have we had such a creative, well-intergrated work about a pivotal and defining moment in the nation's history. 1831 is filled with fresh and little-known information skillfully woven into a more familiar and highly meaningful narrative."--Michael Kammen

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About the Author

Louis Masur

Louis Masur, a professor of history at the City University of New York and the editor of Reviews in American History, is the author of Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776-1865

Louis P. Masur

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Available Formats and Book Details

1831
Year of Eclipse
Louis Masur

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
February 2002
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780809041190
ISBN10: 0809041197
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 272 pages, Includes 19 Black-and-White Illustrations, Notes, a Bibliography, and an Index
$17.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Hill and Wang
February 2002
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466806801
ISBN10: 146680680X
272 pages, 19 Black-and-White Illustrations / Notes / Bibliography / Index
$9.99
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Hill and Wang

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