Conflict and Compromise

Comments on

Conflict and Compromise:

In his detailed examination of the political and economic factors that brought about the secession crisis, economist-turned-historian Ransom places the institution of slavery squarely at center stage. To Ransom, slavery not only "caused" the Civil War, it also determined its outcome by crippling the Confederate war effort. An irony, of sorts, characterized the long sectional conflict over slavery. The North, as Ransom describes it, fought a costly war to abolish slavery even as most northerners had little interest in emancipating the slaves. The South failed in a devastating war to protect its peculiar institution even as the 1860 U.S Constitution offered it the best protection for a slave system. Ransom's work, somewhat cumbersome in places, still makes for interesting reading.  Recommended for colleges and universities with upper-division courses in the South and the Civil War.

Jason H. Silverman, Winthrop College, Rock Hill, S.C.
       Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Skillfully drawing on recent scholarship as well as the author's own important research, Roger Ransom's Conflict and Compromise presents a solid interpretation of the interplay of political, economic, and social developments in the Civil War era. Ransom deftly handles many controversial questions; his discussions of the institution of slavery and southern society, the impact of the war on industrialization, the consequences of emancipation, and causes of the postwar South's economic retardation are gems of historical analysis. An excellent introduction to the period.

William E. Gienapp, Harvard University

More on Conflict and Compromise

My first teaching assignment in the History Department at UCR was an upper division course on the American Civil War.  The notes I made during  that first year of teaching history provided the outline for Conflict and Compromise.  The  ideas I developed writing this book are still the basis for my lectures, and the book has been widely cited as a source for those studying the economics of slavery and the Civil War.

In the preface of the book I wrote that I hoped to "make sense of the economic and political factors" that caused the Civil War.  I can't say that goal was fully realized, but Conflict and Compromise launched me on my quest to understand why people start wars.

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