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Oxford University Press, USA
What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848

by Daniel Walker Howe
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The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. In this Pulitzer prize-winning, critically acclaimed addition to the series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent.

A panoramic narrative, What Hath God Wrought portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture. In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. Howe examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs—advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans—were the true prophets of America's future. In addition, Howe reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico to gain California and Texas for the United States.

Winner of the New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize

Finalist, 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

The Oxford History of the United States
The Oxford History of the United States is the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. The series includes three Pulitzer Prize winners, a New York Times bestseller, and winners of the Bancroft and Parkman Prizes. The Atlantic Monthly has praised it as "the most distinguished series in American historical scholarship," a series that "synthesizes a generation's worth of historical inquiry and knowledge into one literally state-of-the-art book." Conceived under the general editorship of C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter, and now under the editorship of David M. Kennedy, this renowned series blends social, political, economic, cultural, diplomatic, and military history into coherent and vividly written narrative.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195392432
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 09/23/2009
Series: Oxford History of the United States Series
Pages: 928
Sales rank: 93,492
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.94(d)

About the Author

Daniel Walker Howe is Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus, Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Political Culture of the American Whigs and Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. He lives in Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

Editor's Introduction
Abbreviations Used in Citations

Prologue: The Defeat of the Past
1. The Continental Setting
2. From the Jaws of Defeat
3. An Era of Good and Bad Feelings
4. The World That Cotton Made
5. Awakenings of Religion
6. Overthrowing the Tyranny of Distance
7. The Improvers
8. Pursuing the Millennium
9. Andrew Jackson and His Age
10. Battles over Sovereignty
11. Jacksonian Democracy and the Rule of Law
12. Reason and Revelation
13. Jackson's Third Term
14. The New Economy
15. The Whigs and Their Age
16. American Renaissance
17. Texas, Tyler, and the Telegraph
18. Westward the Star of Empire
19. The War Against Mexico
20. The Revolutions of 1848
Finale: A Vision of the Future

Bibliographical Essay

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What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
rjpRP More than 1 year ago
This may be the single best political and cultural history of any American period that I've ever read, with emphasis on "cultural." The writing provides wonderful insight into the mood of America, into the religious, feminist and abolitionist movements of our country. The book dwells at length on the telling influence of new technology and the pivotal role that transportation and communication played in the development of the United States and ultimately the world. Most importantly, this is an honest story--it tells not only of our triumphs, but of America's greatest sins, our treatment of both Native Americans and African Americans. THis is a mnust read for anyone interested in American history.
gleyshull More than 1 year ago
A wealth of knowledge and insight about a period of time few people (including me) know much about. A worthy member of the Oxford American History series (although this is the only one I've read.)
Narboink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A comprehensive examination of one of the most extraordinary periods of American history, "What Hath God Wrought" gives an account of the technological, intellectual, cultural, political, military and religious developments between 1815 and 1848. The volume of data is enormous, and Daniel Walker Howe does a brilliant job of synthesizing it into a master class on the era.Walking away with a richly deserved Pulitzer in 2008, Howe takes a long view of his subject(s) and provides the kind of context and overarching narrative that other, more provincial historians routinely avoid. I've tried (and failed) to read biographies of Andrew Jackson; here the "Jacksonian" period is covered with lucidity, insight and unsentimental clarity. It was an absolute pleasure to read.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I never thought I'd finish an 850-page book about the Jacksonian era. But I did ... and it was actually quite readable. I liked the way he brought in little-known but key players of the era and told their stories.We think the Congress we're living with is contentious! The current bozos have nothing on the Whigs and Democrats in the 1840s as far as partisan bickering goes. They often beat up on each other. (Maybe that's a better approach than duking it out on the talk shows.) White supremacists are considered a fringe group today, but back in the early 1800s, white (male) supremacy was the law of the land and ... and all the white guys pretty much hated immigrants, too. Then the targets were the Irish (Catholics) and the Germans. I knew nothing about how President Polk started an unprovoked War with Mexico to gain land he coveted ... usurpation of power by the executive branch didn't start with W. I don't think much of this was covered in any American History class I took in high school or college, but it's entirely possible I wasn't paying much attention. I'm planning to read my way through the list of books that won the Pulitzer Prize for history -- and this is my first one. I hope they're not all 850+ pages!!!7/15/2010
bjmitch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unlike most books about the period 1815 through 1848 in American history, this is not a hagiography of President Andrew Jackson. It's a more balanced view of what was happening in the entire nation during that time, along with how the political scene in Great Britain and Mexico affected American history.I've read so much about Jackson, much of it unqualified admiration of his presidency, that it was a relief to read who else was prominent and what they were up to. It does include Jackson's fight against the national bank, the results of his feuds with political enemies (of which there were many), and of course the Eaton affair. It is on the brink of being biased against Jackson as well, I must admit.I learned more about the Mexican War and the acquisition of Texas, New Mexico and California than I have ever known. And I felt this was a good background book for reading about the Civil War. I recommend this book and believe Howe wrote it in an easy style for a non-academic to read. However, I would caution that it is an 855 page book. This isn't a fast read but slower, careful reading is rewarding.
markbstephenson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This excellent volume taught me much and left me wishing that John Quincy Adams or someone else of like stature might replace Andrew Jackson on our $20 bills. Surely Old Hickory's crimes against the Cherokees, Creeks and other tribes along with his fierce advocacy of slavery and many other unstatesmanlike behaviors richly deserve such an eviction.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am an avid student of history and was pleased to purchase this comprehensive work on a period of American History often overlooked. Most casual students are well familiar with the Founding Fathers and the periods of history surrounding the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. From the early 1800s until the Lincoln Presidency, however, comparatively little is written or studied.As suggested by the title of this work, the period from 1815 until 1848 was indeed a time of transformation, from the agrarian, East Coast dominated economy of the Revolutionary era, to the geographically expanding and urbanized economy created in large part by the Industrial Revolution. That having been said, I can¿t say that I was mesmerized by this book and found it somewhat of a grind to get through. I don¿t know if it was the subject matter or the writing style, but the story seemed disjointed and never flowed smoothly. Much of the writing is in the style of a textbook, and as a result failed to capture my attention.It seemed that fully half the book focused on the Presidency and policies of Andrew Jackson, and suffice it to say, the author is no fan of Jackson. While there is much to condemn in Jackson¿s character and administration, it is no exaggeration to suggest that if the creators of Mount Rushmore had room for one more bust, Jackson¿s would almost certainly have been the one chosen. And though the author correctly points out valid criticisms of Jackson, he at times tries a little bit too hard, such as strenuously and repeatedly painting Jackson with the brush of ¿white supremacist¿. Not to suggest that Jackson was not a white supremacist, only that virtually 100% of the white American population of the time (including abolitionists) were rabid white supremacists. Also, the author seems to be exceptionally fond of Henry Clay, suggesting that had he been elected in 1844, the Civil War might have been avoided. The author relies upon Clay¿s willingness to enact a program of compensated emancipation, as if the South were interested in such a plan. Had he attempted such a program, it is more likely that the War would have accelerated rather than avoided. And while one may argue over the morality of the Mexican War, it is hard to argue with results (acquisition of Alta California, New Mexico and much of what is now Texas), and Clay was on record as being adamantly opposed to the aforesaid territorial expansion, even after the war had been concluded.In summary, the book is a laudable effort to fill in a period of American history often glossed over. It is well researched and comprehensively presented. It is not however an engrossing read and suffers somewhat from an overly negative bias as relating to the period of Jacksonian administration, and a consequently overly positive viewpoint toward those on the opposite end of the political spectrum.
ValSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent "microhistory" of a very specific time frame in US history, from the Battle of New Orleans to the beginning of the Mexican War (and details about that war to the Treaty of Gaudelupe Hidlago). I recommend it to American history students often since I read it.
sweetFrank on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Howe begins his account of the 30 years between the end of the War of 1812 and the aftermath of the Mexican War with a nod to Thomas Hobbes, saying ¿Life in America in 1815 was dirty, smelly, laborious, and uncomfortable.¿ On the other hand he notes that most owned land, taxes were low, and there were no titles or abbots. Over these years the percentage of the population considered urban increased from 7% to 18%, but the real tension was not that of a increasingly industrialized society in a nation of small farmers, but of the conflict between the Slave Power with its limited-government philosophy of Jefferson and Jackson on the one hand, and the expansionist, use-federal-government to build canals and roads, etc approach of Clay and the New Democrats. The book is an economic, social, cultural, and political exploration of a defining period that began with the ¿Era of Good Feeling¿ as it was known when I was in high school, and ended in the highly-partisan and sectional-based conflicts, dominated by the Southern states judging every measure by the test of its effect on the curtailment or extension of slavery. In many ways it is a depressing history, replete with the perfidy of Jackson towards the Indians, and the trashing of the Constitution by several of the state governors while the federal government looked the other way. The conflict over the Second Bank of the United States, which I once thought was central to the period is more than a footnote, of course, but certainly not the defining event. In Howe's view (according to my reading) that may have been adoption by the Democratic Party of the 2/3rds rule which essentially gave the South veto power over any Presidential candidate. If you are interested in that time frame, this is a fine work.
wildbill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book with a great deal of information. Before I read this book my knowledge of the period from the end of the War of 1812 to the end of the U.S.-Mexico War was limited to Andrew Jackson and his presidency. Mr. Howe added a great deal to my knowledge of the events and the changes in America during this time.He emphasized the developments in transportation and communication. From the building of the Erie Canal to a railroad network that exceeded the miles of track in Europe America in this period built the infrastructure that led to the Industrial Revolution in the last half of the century.The use of steamboats meant that no longer did westerners sail down the Mississippi, break up their boats and sell the lumber and walk back home.The penny newspaper carried information to a country where for the first time the rate of literacy in women equaled that rate in men. The development of the telegraph led to speed of light communication from one end of the country to the other making the information in newspapers more timely.Jackson's political revolution masterminded by Martin van Buren gave rise to the spoils system and the growth of national parties. Jackson also led the beginning of manifest destiny with the wholesale ethnic cleansing of native Americans living in the American southwest and southeast. Howe does not pull any punches in describing the practices that destroyed the inheritance of the five civilized tribes in the name of white superiority. Jackson's disdain of the rule of law in getting done what he wanted to leaves little doubt as to who was civilized.Religion was another topic covered in detail in the book. The Methodist church grew in this period from a small sect to 2.7 million members by 1850. The Baptist and Roman Catholic churches also grew in this era the former based on the efforts of traveling preachers and the latter gathering members by immigration. When the American Methodist Episcopal church was founded in 1816 it was the only institution in the country under black control. Temperance and abolitionism were causes supported by the growth of religion. Howe also describes the founding of Mormonism and its move to Utah after the assassination of Joseph Smith.This era saw the rise of abolitionism and the growth in the South of pro-slavery ideology. The life and career of Sojourner Truth provide a good example of how abolitionism began and grew.The book ends with the U.S.-Mexico war and the presidency of James Polk. Howe gives a thorough description of the events of the war and the political controversy that surrounded it. Abraham Lincoln's speech in opposition to the war details the Whig opposition to the war. The annexation of Mexican territory fueled the debate over the expansion of slavery foreshadowing the controversy that led to the Civil War.There is a 20 page bibliographical essay at the end of the book. The author describes numerous sources for each of the topics covered in the book. This is an excellent resource for further study.I enjoyed the book very much. This review is only a brief outline of the wealth of information provided in a well written and accessible fashion. I have read some criticism of the author for distorting the narrative of events in the name of political correctness. What I found was an even handed, accurate and honest portrayal of events. America is a great country but the government and people of the country have done some reprehensible acts in the course of their history. Any honest history of the country has to include those actions.
phyllis01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A terrific overall look at America during this time. If you think Andrew Jackson was the greatest president evah, though, this may not be the book for you, unless you are willing to see him in his entirety.
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