Broken Glass: Caleb Cushing & the Shattering of the Union

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Kent State University Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 482 pages

One of the most colorful, controversial, and misunderstood public figures of the 19th century

"The most hated man in New England,"as critics dubbed him on the eve of the Civil War, Caleb Cushing, brash and controversial, was perhaps the last of 19th-century America's renaissance figures. Poet and politician, essayist and diplomat, general and lawyer, this multidimensional scion of a Newburyport, Massachusetts, mercantile family moved in and out of positions of power and influence for more than fifty years.

First as a spokesman for the Whig and then the Democratic Parties, Cushing served in Congress, as the minister to China, as a general in the Mexican War, as U.S. attorney general, and as a legal adviser and diplomatic operative for Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, and Grant. With an unharnessed mind and probing intellect, Cushing inspired and infuriated contemporaries with his strident views on such topics as race relations and gender roles, national expansion and the legitimacy of secession. While his positions generated arguments and garnered enemies, his views often mirrored those of many Americans. His abilities and talents sustained him in public service and made him one of the most outstanding and fascinating figures of the era.

Biographer John Belohlavek delivers a work of importance and originality to specialists in the areas of mid-nineteenth-century political, legal, and diplomatic history as well as to those interested in New England history, antebellum gender relations, civil-military relations, and Mexican War studies.

From inside the book


The View from High Street 18001826
Foreign Adventures and Congressional Ventures 18271834
Whig Star Rising The Politics of Antislavery 18351837
Battling the British Lion and the American Fox 18371840
Tyler and the Corporals Guard 18411843
The Road to China 18431844
The Warrior of Manifest Destiny 18451848
The Doughface Democrat 18481853
The Most Unpopular Man in New England 18571861
From Massachusetts Exile to Washington Insider 18611869
The Diplomat Reemerges 18691879

The Power Broker Attorney General 18531857

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Page 214 - He's ben true to one party — an' thet is himself; So John P. Robinson he Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C. Gineral C. he goes in fer the war; He don't vally principle more'n an old cud; Wut did God make us raytional creeturs fer, But glory an' gunpowder, plunder an
Page 159 - I hope your health is good. China is a great Empire, exte'nding over a great part of the world. The Chinese are numerous. You have millions and millions of subjects.
Page 290 - Theirs is the external power which sustains your moral authority; you are the incarnate mind of the political body of the nation. In the complex institutions of our country you are the pivot point upon which the rights and liberties of all, government and people alike, turn ; or, rather you are the central light of constitutional wisdom around which they perpetually revolve. Long may this Court retain the confidence of our country as the great conservators, not of the private peace only, but of the...
Page 213 - Gineral C. is a dreffle smart man : He's been on all sides that give places or pelf; But consistency still was a part of his plan — He's been true to one party, and that is himself; So John P. Robinson, he Sez he shall vote fer Gineral C. Gineral C. goes in for the war; He don't vally principle mor'n an old cud; What did God make us raytional creeturs fer, But glory an...
Page 102 - That the Constitution rests on the broad principle of equality among the members of this confederacy ; and that Congress, in the exercise of its acknowledged powers, has no right to discriminate between the institutions of one portion of the States and another, with a view of abolishing the one and promoting the other.
Page 76 - William Slade, of Vermont, joined to the presentation of some abolitionist petitions the motion that they should be referred to an extraordinary committee, with instructions to bring in a bill for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
Page 373 - Lay aside all ye dead, For in the next bed Reposes the body of Gushing, He has crowded his way Through the world, they sny. And, even though dead, will be pushing.
Page 72 - ... earth ; if with less of the sustained vigor of active resolution, and less of the analytical comprehensiveness of intellect than man, yet with more intensity of purpose, and more instinctive quickness and force of thought in a given emergency ; when good, in principle better than he, when bad, worse ; in a word, neither greater nor less than man, but different, as her natural vocation is different, and both so far equal, that each is superior to the other in their respective departments of thought...
Page 155 - I go to China, sir. if I may so express myself, in behalf of civilization, and that, if possible, the doors of three hundred millions of Asiatic laborers may be opened to America.
Page 77 - Massachusetts, hold universally that domestic slavery is, in the abstract, an evil, moral, political and social ; we hold that negro slavery, as it now exists in some of the states of the Union, is an evil; and if it depended upon us, and slavery could be abolished lawfully, and with safety to the blacks and the whites, the two races would not co-exist in their present relations another day.

About the author (2005)

John M. Belohlavek is a professor of history at the University of South Florida in Tampa. His previous publications include Divided We Fall: Essays on the Problems of Confederate Nationalism of Confederate Nationalism (1991) and Let the Eagle Soar: The Foreign Policy of Andrew Jackson Jackson (1985).