Summary

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Battle Cry of Freedom, by James M. McPherson, is a historical non-fiction book about the Civil War. The focus of the book is on the twenty years of history starting with the Mexican American War and moving through the end of the Civil War.

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There is definitely a focus on some of the more important events during that time, including Abraham Lincoln’s debates with Stephen Douglas over the race for the Senatorial seat of Illinois, with one of the main issues up for debate being slavery. The author also focuses on the assault on Harper’s Ferry by John Brown and other important occurrences from before the war like the Dred Scott decision, which ruled that people of African descent could not be citizens of the United States.

The book then goes through the war, including covering many different aspects of it such as some of the causes, including especially slavery as an issue that many of the seceding states brought up as a reason for leaving. McPherson covers both sides of the war and even includes internal conflicts within each side, such as those who disagreed with Lincoln in the North, for example.

Freedom is a major focus of the book, and the title can be used to either reference those in the South who were fighting for their own freedom from the North, in their own view, or black slaves in the South who were fighting for their basic right to freedom on an individual level.

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Analysis