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Making an Antislavery Nation

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About the Author

Graham A. Peck is a professor of History at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. He is the writer, director, and producer of Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy , an award-winning documentary that aired on PBS. His film, podcasts, and publications are available at


"Making an Antislavery Nation is an elegant and important reinterpretation of the political battles between slavery and freedom from the nation's founding to the secession crisis. In focusing on Illinois, Graham Peck brilliantly highlights the significance of the state in national politics and of Stephen Douglas as the pivotal figure in the rise of antislavery politics and disunion. His portrait of Douglas is unequaled in a story that is structurally and stylistically a work of immense sophistication."--John Stauffer, author of Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln "Graham Peck offers a sophisticated analysis of the forces that led to the Civil War, emphasizing how Abraham Lincoln disguised the wolf of radical antislavery nationalism with conservative sheep's clothing, and how Stephen A. Douglas was gradually crushed between the upper millstone of Southern intransigence and the nether millstone of Northern disaffection for his toleration of slavery."--Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life "The victory of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party was the most significant political revolution in American history. Graham A. Peck's penetrating account of the politics of slavery in Illinois-at once a key battleground state and a microcosm of the nation as a whole-offers a powerful new interpretation of this critical moment in antebellum politics. By fusing antislavery radicalism with American nationalism, Lincoln and the Republicans overcame an increasingly proslavery northern Democratic Party. Thoroughly researched and judiciously argued, Making an Antislavery Nation changes the way we understand the triumph of the Republicans and the origins of the Civil War."--Matthew Karp, Princeton University, and author of This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy

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