"There Is a North"
Fugitive Slaves, Political Crisis, and Cultural Transformation in the Coming of the Civil War
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
While Lincoln’s alleged quip about the little woman who started the big war has been oft-repeated, scholars have not fully explained the dynamics between politics and culture in the decades leading up to 1861. Rather than simply viewing the events of the 1850s through the lens of party politics, “There Is a North” is the first book to explore how cultural action—including minstrelsy, theater, and popular literature—transformed public opinion and political structures. Taking the North’s rallying cry as his title, Brooke shows how the course of history was forever changed.
"[A]n admirably wide-ranging and expansive discussion of this critical period in United States history. We are indebted to Brooke for this provocative approach to troubled times. I have no doubt it will be the center of discussion in graduate seminars for a long time."—The New England Quarterly
Brooke’s book is a meaty one that makes a significant scholarly con-tribution by offering a theoretical construct within which to view the interaction between culture and politics in the coming of the Civil War. "Brooke's book is a meaty one that makes a significant scholarly contribution by offering a theoretical construct within which to view the interaction between culture and politics in the coming of the Civil War. The book also is notable for its in-depth discussion of the centrality of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in generating northern anti-slavery sentiment."—Journal of the Civil War Era
“Brooke makes a compelling case for how culture reinforced and even prompted political change at a time when inertia had paralyzed national political institutions . . . ‘There Is a North’ expertly synthesizes the recent literature on the politics of the 1850s and demonstrates a fascinating model for how to understand the dramatic changes that American politics and society endured in the decade leading up to the Civil War.”—American Historical Review
"It turns out that the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin did more to establish the Republican Party than the caning of Charles Sumner. By combining the sensitivity of a cultural historian with the savvy of a political historian, John L. Brooke offers us a remarkable, and remarkably persuasive, new account of the emergence of antislavery politics in the early 1850s."—James Oakes, author of The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War
"This beautifully written, elegantly theorized, and deeply researched book offers a fresh and timely examination of the intertwined political and cultural crises and forces leading to the American Civil War."—Alice Fahs, coeditor of The Memory of the Civil War in American Culture