The importance of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the history of the United States cannot be overstated. Many historians regard the Civil War as the defining event in American history. At stake was not only freedom for 3.5 million slaves but also survival of the relatively new American experiment in self government. A very real possibility existed that the union could have been severed, but a collection of determined leaders and soldiers proved their willingness to fight for the survival of what Abraham Lincoln called "the last best hope on earth." The second edition of this highly readable, one volume work looks to place the war in its historical context. The more than 800 entries, encompassing the years 1844 to 1877, cover the significant events, persons, politics, and economic and social themes of the Civil War and Reconstruction. An extensive chronology, introductory essay, and comprehensive bibliography supplement the cross referenced dictionary entries to guide the reader through the military and non military actions of one of the most pivotal events in American history. The dictionary concludes with a selection of primary documents.
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