Staking Claims to A Continent

Staking Claims to A Continent

John A. Macdonald, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and the Making of North America

Book - 2016
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"Three political leaders presided over the reshaping of the North American continent during the fiery 1860s. Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln were both born in Kentucky, Davis in June 1808 and Lincoln the following February. John A. Macdonald was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in January 1815. All were Protestants; none came from a wealthy family. In an earlier era, such men would not have risen to political heights. They personified an age of social and economic transformation, thrust to the top by the very forces that tore the continent apart. Davis tried to create a country by ripping the South out of the United States and establishing the Confederate States of America. Lincoln's crusade to save the Union honed the industrial-military power that would one day dominate the world. Macdonald led the drive to shepherd the diverse British North American provinces into a federal state that would secure the northern half of the continent and keep Canada out of American hands. In a high stakes game, these three national projects competed to create viable nation states. And the success or failure of the projects would have consequences--not only for the long-term future of the continent but for the entire global order."--
Publisher: [Toronto] : Anansi, 2016.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781770894303
1770894306
Branch Call Number: 973.7 LAXER
Characteristics: ix, 361 pages : maps

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rb3221
Oct 08, 2016

I found Laxer's book to be a very good inquiry (especially for a novice historian like myself) into Canadian - USA relations during the Civil War and Canadian Confederation, both of which were occurring at the same time. Laxer makes the case that MacDonald's determined wish for a strong central government was highly influenced by the American Civil War which showed the defects and weaknesses of the American system (i.e. the powerful state powers over the weaker federal ones). Confederation, then, in Laxer, view "was very much a product of the political and economic forces of its time".
Lincoln's starting point as the war began was the preservation of the Union but changed after his re-election to become a Union without slavery. Jefferson Davies, President of the Confederate states wanted to create a new nation state. Even in 1776 these two separate "highly developed and increasingly antagonist" visions of nation were clearly evident but only one was destined to survive.

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