This book argues that “disunion” was once the most provocative and potent word in the political vocabulary of Americans. From the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 up to the Civil War, disunion conjured up the most profound anxieties of Americans as they considered the fate of their republic. This one word contained, and stimulated, their fears of extreme political factionalism, tyranny, regionalism, economic decline, foreign intervention, class conflict, gender disorder, racial strife, widespread violence and anarchy, and civil war, all of which could be interpreted as God's retributions for America's moral failings. Disunion connoted the dissolution of the republic—the failure of the Founders' efforts to establish a stable and lasting representative government.
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