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The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War

Best Seller
The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War by Leonard L. Richards
Paperback $15.95
Feb 12, 2008 | ISBN 9780307277572

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  • Feb 12, 2008 | ISBN 9780307277572

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  • Feb 13, 2007 | ISBN 9780307267375

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“Richards, a leading historian of 19th century America superbly illuminates gold rush California as a land in contention between national pro– and anti–slavery lobbies in the decade leading up to the Civil War.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Richards offers a broad panorama that moves seamlessly from the gold fields to the halls of congress. This is an excellent work of popular history that will add to the appreciation of a critical epoch in our national development.”

“Brings to life a population of scheming officeholders, xenophobic Californians and frantic slaveholders, all of whom resorted to the ultimate frontier solution: violence.’
Kirkus Reviews

“An engrossing chronicle of the political intrigues that engulfed California in the 1850s, when pro-Southern legislators there angled to turn the state’s newfound wealth to the benefit of the slave economy.”
The Atlantic

“The important back-story of the Gold Rush, according to gifted historian Leonard Richards, is political and racial. Mr. Richards contends in this insightful new book, The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War that for every fortune seeker who viewed California as a place to get rich discovering gold, another believed it a place to get rich exporting, utilizing, or trafficking in human slaves. . . . [A] gripping book.”
The New York Sun

“Richards meticulously catalogs details of 19th-century American legislation that nonspecilaists won’t have thought about since high school: the Missouri Compromise, the Gadsden Purchase, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. But when he places the actors center stage to reveal the motives behind the politics, the narrative approaches the Shakespearean.”

“With a mastery that brings even his bit players to life, Leonard Richards tells a gripping story about politics, business, violence, and the scoundrels who almost destroyed the United States. If you think you already know this story, you’re in for some nice surprises. And if you don’t, there’s no better guide.”
—Robin L. Einhorn, author of American Taxation, American Slavery

“Leonard Richards has once again produced a wonderful, entertaining, and informative account of antebellum politics. Most important, he shows the myriad forces–greed, ambition, idealism, racism, patronage, migration, expansionism–that melded together to distance southerners from northerners. Any one reading this work will come away with a deep understanding of how the antagonism between free and slave labor systems constituted the volatile fuel that made the explosion of secession and civil war possible.”
—James L. Huston, author of Calculating the Value of the Union: Slavery, Property Rights, and the Economic Origins of the Civil War

“A truly rollicking book, full of colorful characters, duels, hard-rock miners, ‘Chivs,’ and back-stabbing politics. But its readability belies the centrality of these seemingly minor characters to the drama of the nation’s sectional crisis. The Golden State can no longer be ignored by those wishing to tell the story of how the nation came to civil war.”
—Jonathan H. Earle, author of Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854

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