A Nation Rising: Untold Tales of Flawed Founders, Fallen Heroes, and Forgotten Fighters from America's Hidden History
Kenneth C. Davis
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Following his New York Times bestseller America's Hidden History, Kenneth C. Davis explores the gritty first half of the nineteenth century—among the most tumultuous periods in this nation's short life.
In the dramatic period that spans roughly from 1800 through 1850, the United States emerged from its inauspicious beginning as a tiny newborn nation, struggling for survival and political cohesion on the Atlantic seaboard, to a near-empire that spanned the continent. It was a time in which the "dream of our founders" spread in ways that few men of that Revolutionary Generation could possibly have imagined. And it was an era that ultimately led to the great, tragic conflagration that followed—the American Civil War.
The narratives that form A Nation Rising each exemplify the "hidden history" of America, exploring a vastly more complex path to nationhood than the tidily packaged national myth of a destiny made manifest by visionary political leaders and fearless pioneers. Instead, Davis (whose writing People magazine compared to "returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had") explores many historical episodes that reverberate to this day, including:
* Aaron Burr's 1807 trial, showcasing the political intrigue of the early Republic and becoming one of our nation's first media circuses
* an 1813 Indian uprising and an ensuing massacre that exposes the powerful conflicts at the heart of America's expansion
* a mutiny aboard the slave ship Creole and the ways in which the institution of slavery both destroyed lives and warped our nation's founding
* the "Dade Massacre" and the start of the second Seminole War, a long, deadly conflict between Indian tribes, their African American allies, and the emergent U.S. Army
* the bloody "Bible Riots" in Philadelphia, demonstrating how deadly anti-immigrant sentiment could be
* the story of Jessie Benton FrÉmont and Lt. John C. FrÉmont, a remarkable couple who together helped open the West, bring California into the Union, and gave literal shape to the nation today
The issues raised in these intertwined stories—ambition, power, territorial expansion, slavery, intolerance, civil rights, freedom of the press—continue to make headlines. The resulting book is not only riveting storytelling in its own right, but a stirring reminder of the ways in which our history continues to shape our present.
capture for nearly two months, during which he became a frightening bogeyman to the people of the South. On September 17, a reward of $500 was offered for his capture. To whites and blacks alike, Nat Turner had become larger than life, taking on an even greater mystique during his brief disappearance. In the end, two black men out hunting spotted him and alerted their masters that they had seen the man known as “the Prophet.” Following his capture on October 30, 1831, Turner sat in his jail cell
eventually lost most of its violence, its force remained. After the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was formed; besides its fundamental racism, the Klan movement also expressed a strong aversion to foreigners, Catholics, and Jews. In the 1920s, when a Catholic, Al Smith of New York, ran against Herbert Hoover, Smith’s faith was still an issue; Republican slogans claimed that he was in favor of “rum, Romanism, and ruin.” It would take more than 100 years after the first Nativist presidential
mile per hour as the small flotilla labored against the current of the Río Chagres. From the city of Chagres, a port on Panama’s Caribbean coast, these travelers were heading south to Panama City on the Pacific coast. From there, they and thousands of other argonauts or “forty-niners” hoped to make their way to the new American paradise of California, where men just dipped pans into clear mountain streams and came away wealthy beyond their dreams. It was 1849. This was gold fever. Like thousands
exchange of insults over the duel, which led to a second challenge. This time, Lucas was shot in the heart and died. Although the story may be apocryphal, Benton supposedly later said, “I never quarrel, sir, but I do fight, sir, and when I fight, sir, a funeral follows, sir.” In 1820, when Missouri attained statehood, Thomas Hart Benton became one of its first U.S. senators. Once established in Washington, he repaired his relationship with Andrew Jackson, and later he campaigned for Old Hickory,
Andrew Jackson, p. 73. 29. Collier and Collier, Decision in Philadelphia, p. 231. 30. Ibid., pp. 157–158. 31. Wheelan, pp. 285–286. 32. James Parton, The Life and Times of Aaron Burr, Vol. 2, cited in Lucas, p. 100. II. WEATHERFORD’S WAR 1. O’Brien, In Bitterness and in Tears, p. x. 2. Ibid., p. xi. 3. Ibid., pp. xii–xiii. 4. Ibid., p. xiii. 5. Cited in Borneman, 1812: The War That Forged a Nation, p. 146. 6. Meacham, American Lion, p. xxii. 7. Remini, Andrew Jackson, pp. 4–5. 8.