Far from a monolithic block of diehard slave states, the antebellum South was, in William Freehling's words, "a world so lushly various as to be a storyteller's dream." It was a world where Deep South cotton planters clashed with South Carolina rice growers, as Northern egalitarianisminfiltrated border states already bitterly divided on key issues. It was the world of Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, and Thomas Jefferson, and also of Gullah Jack, Nat Turner, and Frederick Douglass. Now, in the first volume of his long awaited, monumental study of the South's road to disunion, historian William Freehling offers a sweeping political and social history of the antebellum South from 1776 to 1854. All the dramatic events leading to secession are here: the Missouri Compromise,the Nullification Controversy, the Gag Rule, the Annexation of Texas, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Vivid accounts of each crisis reveal the surprising extent to which slavery influenced national politics before 1850 and provide important reinterpretations of Americanrepublicanism, Jeffersonian states' rights, Jacksonian democracy, and the causes of the American Civil War. Freehling's brilliant historical insights illustrate a work of rich social observation. In the cities of the Antebellum South, in the big house of a typical plantation, we feel anew the tensions between the slaveowner and his family, poor whites and planters, the Old and New Souths, and mostpowerfully between slave and master. Freehling has evoked the Old South in all its color, cruelty, and diversity. It is a memorable portrait, certain to be a key analysis of this crucial era in American history.