Washington brotherhood: Politics, social life, and the coming of the civil war

Rachel A. Shelden, Gary W. Gallagher, Peter S. Carmichael, Caroline E. Janney, Aaron Sheehan-Dean

Research output: Book/ReportBook

19 Scopus citations


Traditional portrayals of politicians in antebellum Washington, D.C., describe a violent and divisive society, full of angry debates and violent duels, a microcosm of the building animosity throughout the country. Yet, in Washington Brotherhood, Rachel Shelden paints a more nuanced portrait of Washington as a less fractious city with a vibrant social and cultural life. Politicians from different parties and sections of the country interacted in a variety of day-to-day activities outside traditional political spaces and came to know one another on a personal level. Shelden shows that this engagement by figures such as Stephen Douglas, John Crittenden, Abraham Lincoln, and Alexander Stephens had important consequences for how lawmakers dealt with the sectional disputes that bedeviled the country during the 1840s and 1850s--particularly disputes involving slavery in the territories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherUniversity of North Carolina Press
Number of pages281
ISBN (Print)9781469610856
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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