Uncle Tom's Cabin, the Pacific Railroad Surveys, De Bow's Review and American Literature Up To Secession and War

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#1
Fellow Posters,

I am in the process of compiling a bibliography of mostly significant antebellum American literature (NOTE: NOT "Southern" literature but ALL "American" literature which does, of course, include "Southern" literature), though I have interest even in ephemera. Will you please add titles --and some commentary about the titles, if you wish-- to my list?

My pursuit of a more comprehensive list of such titles is rooted in my belief that Uncle Tom's Cabin (UTC) has received far more weight than the weight to which it is due. Important? No doubt. Very important? No doubt. Exclusively important? No. I, for example, believe that the magisterial Pacific Railroad Surveys (1854-1860) (PRS) of Jefferson Davis (whose 13 volumes were in Lincoln's personal library) were more important than UTC in the Antebellum. Sure, I might be wrong, and the standards for measurement are surely subjective, barring some significant discovery. The number of copies sold is only one standard. The number of square miles affected is quite another.

In all events, I am chasing all the significant the antebellum literature I can find that shaped American minds, Northern, Southern, Western, Southwestern, etc. My search has been prompted by the belief that Civil War historians who argue, mistakenly in my view, for slavery as the primary factor in the coming of Secession and War are myopically steeped primarily in literature, like UTC, about the South instead of literature about ALL of American antebellum concerns --e.g., works like Commodore Matthew Perry's equally magnificent 3-volume Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, completed in late 1857, or the Report of the Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains in the Year 1842 and to Oregon and California in the Years 1843-44, published in 1845 by 1856 U.S. Presidential nominee and Republican, John C. Fremont. Herman Melville's Typee would certainly be on such a list, showing America's ever-increasing interest in the Pacific every bit as much as interest in the concerns of Planters.

So, there you have it. What titles will you add to my list? I would fully expect someone to mention Edmund Ruffin's important 1860 novel, Anticipations of the Future, to Serve as Lessons for the Present Time: In the Form of Extracts of Letters from an English Resident in the United States, to the London Times (sic), from 1864 to 1870 but perhaps overlook The Central Gold Region (1859) by Colorado's territorial Governor, William Gilpin, who envisioned Denver as the commercial center of the earth by means of a railroad radiating outward and inward therefrom in all directions including a railroad over the Bering Straits to China. Let us not leave that out, of course

So, help me please, if you are so inclined. Speeches ("Cotton is King," Jeff Davis's January 5, 1861, speech to Congress, etc.), tracts, pamphlets (like one in chicago's Newberry Library, produced by the Illinois Central Railroad, hyping southern Illinois --rather than South Carolina-- as a new Garden of Eden for immigrants), etc., ALL ARE WELCOME CONTRIBUTIONS to this projected bibliography. Preferably from 1830--1861, but certainly there are good exceptions.

James Lutzweiler
Archivist (1999-2013), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
 
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John Hartwell

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#2
Classing Pacific Railroad Surveys of 1857, with Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as "literature" is a really long stretch. They were entirely different types of writing, with different purposes, intended for different audiences. How many readers of Uncle Tom's Cabin do you think would have read those "13 volumes," whether Lincoln did or not? The "Importance" here, is a factor of "influence;" of the extent of the audience they reached and influenced.

And, how "Edmund Ruffin's ... 1860 novel" could have influenced opinions leading up to 1860 secession is a bit hard to figure out, particularly given its limited circulation.
 
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#3
Classing Pacific Railroad Surveys of 1857, with Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as "literature" is a really long stretch. They were entirely different types of writing, with different purposes, intended for different audiences. How many readers of Uncle Tom's Cabin do you think would have read those "13 volumes," whether Lincoln did or not? The "Importance" here, is a factor of "influence;" of the extent of the audience they reached and influenced.

And, how "Edmund Ruffin's ... 1860 novel" could have influenced opinions leading up to 1860 secession is a bit hard to figure out, particularly given its limited circulation.
Thanks. Just looking for titles. I understand your disagreement with my own estimate. 1860 is still antebellum and ante-Secession. You don't suppose Ruffin talked about his book before he published it, do you?

Peace.
 

uaskme

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#4
Impending Crisis of the South by Hinton Rowan Helper: Edited by the Republican Party is one. Another Slavery Book. Had a bigger influence than UTC

OPs list is much more Impressive. I can see pretty quickly, what the average person was reading and what they should of been reading.

Thanks for starting this Thread.
 
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#5
Impending Crisis of the South by Hinton Rowan Helper: Edited by the Republican Party is one. Another Slavery Book. Had a bigger influence than UTC

OPs list is much more Impressive. I can see pretty quickly, what the average person was reading and what they should of been reading.

Thanks for starting this Thread.
Thanks much for this. I had forgotten about it, though my OP was far from exhaustive. This is VIP. It has been on my hit list to read for years. Thanks to your prompt, I will get to it.

By the way, just as an additional inducement for contributions of titles, I will at some point post the antebellum bibliography that I am compiling.

James
 

USS ALASKA

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#6
...I am chasing all the significant the antebellum literature I can find that shaped American minds...
Sir, the King James Bible, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the United States Constitution, the United States Bill of Rights.
47

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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Jimklag

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#7
If you are talking about literature that was influential in its time, then the following must be on any list: (Note: My list includes only works from 1800-1860)

The King James Bible
John Marshall's Life of George Washington
The History Of The Lewis And Clark Expedition
Uncle Tom's Cabin

Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe
Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy In America
Richard Henry Dana Two Years Before The Mast
A number of novels by Charles Dickens and the works of James Fenimore Cooper

This is not "my" list - these are works of prose that ante-bellum Americans actually bought and read in large numbers. It needs to be stated also that ante-bellum Americans read as much poetry as they did prose. William Cullen Bryant, Poe, Whittier, Longfellow and Holmes were favorites.
 
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#9
If you are talking about literature that was influential in its time, then the following must be on any list: (Note: My list includes only works from 1800-1860)

The King James Bible
John Marshall's Life of George Washington
The History Of The Lewis And Clark Expedition
Uncle Tom's Cabin

Sir Walter Scott Ivanhoe
Alexis de Tocqueville Democracy In America
Richard Henry Dana Two Years Before The Mast
A number of novels by Charles Dickens and the works of James Fenimore Cooper

This is not "my" list - these are works of prose that ante-bellum Americans actually bought and read in large numbers. It needs to be stated also that ante-bellum Americans read as much poetry as they did prose. William Cullen Bryant, Poe, Whittier, Longfellow and Holmes were favorites.
Thanks much for your contribution. Any reason you left out E.A. Poe, the greatest poet on earth next to

Yours truly,

James
 
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#11
I nominate Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, September 28, 1829, by David Walker. Was followed by (not saying it caused) Nat Turner's revolt. One of the most influential writings in US history, but in a negative way, as it became a pariah in the South.

- Alan
 
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#12
I nominate Walker's Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America, September 28, 1829, by David Walker. Was followed by (not saying it caused) Nat Turner's revolt. One of the most influential writings in US history, but in a negative way, as it became a pariah in the South.

- Alan
Thanks. Added.
 
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#13
There's a book titled Negromania (yes really) by a Northerner named John Campbell published in 1851 you can find on Google Books. There's also The Proslavery Argument (1853) which is a compilation of 4 writings by different Southern authors. There's also a number of works on slavery and the bible.

https://books.google.com/books?id=S...9UQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=slavery bible&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=X...9UQ6AEINjAC#v=onepage&q=slavery bible&f=false

You might also look into look into other works by William Gilmore Simms which is one of the 4 authors in The Proslavery Argument.
 
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#14
Sir, the King James Bible, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the United States Constitution, the United States Bill of Rights.
47

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
Has anyone mentioned Charles Dickens? He was quite the popular author. Dickens arguably created the modern version of Christmas.
Leftyhunter
 

OpnCoronet

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#15
Any study of Secession in America and South Carolina in particular, IMO, is not complete without John C. Calhoun's 'A Disquisition on Government' and 'Discourse on the Constitution' .




P.S. I agree UTC is given too much weight as anti-slavery propaganda(even though it was) and not enough as a social commentary on the baneful effects of the institution on every one it touched. I read a review that said the only unsympathetic character in the book, was Simon Legree from New England.
 
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#16
There's a book titled Negromania (yes really) by a Northerner named John Campbell published in 1851 you can find on Google Books. There's also The Proslavery Argument (1853) which is a compilation of 4 writings by different Southern authors. There's also a number of works on slavery and the bible.

https://books.google.com/books?id=SWzaAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=slavery+bible&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi45p69_ZbhAhXI34MKHYn6D9UQ6AEIQDAE#v=onepage&q=slavery bible&f=false

https://books.google.com/books?id=Xo9W239i2q8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=slavery+bible&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi45p69_ZbhAhXI34MKHYn6D9UQ6AEINjAC#v=onepage&q=slavery bible&f=false

You might also look into look into other works by William Gilmore Simms which is one of the 4 authors in The Proslavery Argument.

Thanks. Simms is on my hit list.
 
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#17
Any study of Secession in America and South Carolina in particular, IMO, is not complete without John C. Calhoun's 'A Disquisition on Government' and 'Discourse on the Constitution' .




P.S. I agree UTC is given too much weight as anti-slavery propaganda(even though it was) and not enough as a social commentary on the baneful effects of the institution on every one it touched. I read a review that said the only unsympathetic character in the book, was Simon Legree from New England.
Thanks for this post.
 



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