Known today as "the other speaker at Gettysburg," Edward Everett had a distinguished and illustrative career at every level of American politics from the 1820s through the Civil War. In this new biography, Matthew Mason argues that Everett's extraordinarily well-documented career reveals a complex man whose shifting political opinions, especially on the topic of slavery, illuminate the nuances of Northern Unionism. In the case of Everettwho once pledged to march south to aid slaveholders in putting down slave insurrectionsMason explores just how complex the question of slavery was for most Northerners, who considered slavery within a larger context of competing priorities that alternately furthered or hindered antislavery actions.By charting Everett's changing stance toward slavery over time, Mason sheds new light on antebellum conservative politics, the complexities of slavery and its related issues for reform-minded Americans, and the ways in which secession turned into civil war. As Mason demonstrates, Everett's political and cultural efforts to preserve the Union, and the response to his work from citizens and politicians, help us see the coming of the Civil War as a three-sided, not just two-sided, contest.
About the Author
Matthew Mason is associate professor of history at Brigham Young University.
What People are Saying About This
Matthew Mason has written a critical book on a key figure in the pantheon of nineteenth-century politics. This is a well-crafted, well-written account of a seeming paradox: why was a conciliatory, doughface Whig invited to speak with Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863? In answering this question, Mason opens a window onto a wide swath of public opinion in the 1850s and 1860s. Apostle of Union will be an essential contribution to the new and the classic literature on the origins of the American Civil War.John Brooke, The Ohio State University