The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War Review

The previously untold story of the violence in Congress that helped spark the Civil War

In The Field of Blood, Joanne Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, Freeman shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions often were punctuated with mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. When debate broke down, congressmen drew pistols and waved Bowie knives. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were beaten and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery.

These fights didn't happen in a vacuum. Freeman's dramatic accounts of brawls and thrashings tell a larger story of how fisticuffs and journalism, and the powerful emotions they elicited, raised tensions between North and South and led toward war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities--the feel, sense, and sound of it--as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and rivetingly told, The Field of Blood offers a front-row view of congressional mayhem, and sheds new light on the careers of John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and other luminaries, as well as introducing a host of lesser-known but no less fascinating men. The result is a fresh understanding of the workings of American democracy and the bonds of Union on the eve of their greatest peril.

Title:The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Bill  Kerwin

    I watched every minute of the Kavanaugh hearings, appalled at the procedural bullying of the Republicans, the cries of anguish from the female protestors, and I said to myself: could the atmosphere in...

  • Anne Morgan

    Joanne B. Freeman's The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War is an entertaining, well researched, and well-written examination of physical violence in U.S. Congress in the de...

  • Myles

    So much of what we learn from Dr. Freeman’s “The Field of Blood: Violence in the Congress and the Road to Civil War” is relevant to today’s Congress that I shudder to think of what could happe...

  • Steve Majerus-Collins

    Joanne B. Freeman deserves credit for wading into the realities of the pre-Civil War Congress to find something beyond the eloquent speeches and forlorn compromises that are dimly remembered precursor...

  • Sasha

    First I would like to state that I received this book through the Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author for giving me this opportunity and honor in bein...

  • Jessica Jackson

    As a public historian/tour guide at the US Capitol, I will cherish this incredibly well-researched book as new foundation stone in my effort to educate the public about the tumultuous history of Congr...

  • Daniel Casey

    Freeman breathes life into a past all too frequently disconnected, romanticized, and distorted. Her prose moves with easy and while she may have a vast store of insight to drawn from, she keeps her bo...

  • Jill

    In the early days of our republic, serving as an elected official in either house of Congress could prove to be a mortal hazard. In antebellum America, the carrying of knives and guns on one’s perso...

  • Michael Webb

    For a record of the activities of Congress in the period before and leading up to the Civil War, this succeeds in being a breezy and engaging read without sacrificing scholarship along the way. Freema...

  • Bill Lucey

    After reading Yale historian Joanne B. Freeman’s magnificent book, “Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War,” I was stunned to learn just how much physical violence took p...