And The Middle West

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Something immense was going on in the Middle West of the 1850’s. Idealism and hard practicality went hand in hand, and men who dreamed of a new heaven and a new earth were careful to get options on all the best lots in the new towns that were being staked out ninety miles west of nowhere. The pulse of the country was beating that way; the road that had to be traveled lay across the limitless prairies, the land of limitless cash potentialities and also the land of limitless dreams. The slave power, blind as all powers whose day is finished, insisted that everything that was done out here must be framed so that the rights of the slave states were properly preserved; and in the end the Middle West simply got tired of it. The net result was the Emancipation Proclamation, the march to the sea, Appomattox, and various things that have made headlines since then.

All of this is not so much explicitly stated as implicit in the background of Mr. Monaghan’s book. It tells a part of the story which gives rise to the books of Messrs. Stampp and Furnas; a part equally valid and equally important, and—in this reviewer’s opinion—equally necessary to a proper understanding of the story of how we got here and where we are apt to go next.