The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861: With a New Preface

The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire With a New Preface The great value of the book lies in the manner in which May relates the expansionist urge to the symbolic differences emerging between the North and the South The result is a balanced account that con

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  • Title: The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861: With a New Preface
  • Author: Robert E. May
  • ISBN: 9780813025124
  • Page: 217
  • Format: Paperback
  • The great value of the book lies in the manner in which May relates the expansionist urge to the symbolic differences emerging between the North and the South The result is a balanced account that contributes to the efforts of historians to understand the causes of the Civil War Journal of American History The most ambitious effort yet to relate the Caribbean quest The great value of the book lies in the manner in which May relates the expansionist urge to the symbolic differences emerging between the North and the South The result is a balanced account that contributes to the efforts of historians to understand the causes of the Civil War Journal of American History The most ambitious effort yet to relate the Caribbean question to the larger picture of southern economic and political anxieties, and to secession The core of this superbly documented book is a detailed description of expansionist ideology and activities during the 1850s Civil War History A path breaking work when first published in 1973, The Southern Dream remains the standard work on attempts by the South to spread American slavery into the tropics Cuba, Mexico, and Central America in particular before the Civil War Robert May shows that the South s expansionists had no success than when they tried to extend slavery westward As one after another of their plots failed, southern imperialists lost hope that their labor system might survive in the Union Blaming northern Democrats and antislavery Republicans alike for their disappointed dreams, alienated southerners embraced secession as an alternative means to achieving the tropical slave empire that they craved Had war not erupted at Fort Sumter, Confederates might have attempted to conquer the Caribbean basin.May s book serves as an important reminder that foreign policy cannot be divorced from the writing of American history, even in regard to seemingly domestic matters like the causes of the Civil War Contending that America s Manifest Destiny became sectionalized in the 1850s, he explains why southerners considered Caribbean expansion so important and shows how southerners used their clout in Washington to initiate diplomatic schemes like the notorious Ostend Manifesto and presidential attempts to buy the slaveholding island of Cuba from Spain He also describes southern filibustering plots against Latin American domains, such as the aborted designs on Mexico of the colorful Knights of the Golden Circle and the actual invasions of Central America by native Tennessean William Walker Walker struck a major blow for the expansion of slavery when he legalized it during his occupation of Nicaragua Most important, May relates how Caribbean plots affected American public opinion and ignited sectional friction in congressional debates May argues that President elect Abraham Lincoln might have saved the Union in the winter of 1860 61, had he agreed to last minute concessions facilitating slavery s future expansion towards the tropics.May s fascinating and often surprising account internationalized the causes of the Civil War It should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the complex reasons why Americans came to blows with each other in 1861 This reprinting features a new preface by the author, which addresses the latest research on the Caribbean question Robert E May is professor of history at Purdue University.

    One thought on “The Southern Dream of a Caribbean Empire, 1854-1861: With a New Preface”

    1. I was recommended this book by the eminent historian Eric Foner as one of two books to read in comparison for his Civil War and Reconstruction course's term paper. I have been reading this concurrently with Walter Johnson's River of Dark Dreams. By reading these books in comparison, I'm left seeing May's work as the lesser of the two. May's work has one goal: to demonstrate the role of expansionism in deepening the sectional divide leading up to the Civil War. While expansionism was undoubtedly [...]

    2. Probably one of the most boring books that I've ever read. Very heavily narrative based, and extremely detailed. An older book, with a reprint in 1988; so that explains the style. His premise is that the south was obsessed over expansion into Nicaragua, Cuba, and Mexico, which aided in the deep sectionalism of the 1850s. It casts an interesting perspective on sectionalism and manifest destiny, but it is heavily focused on the South. There is a noticeable absence of any Latin American perspective [...]

    3. A look into expansion after the Polk administration. It seems that the nation, Republicans, were determined to weaken the South power in the Republic.

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