Days of Destiny : Crossroads in American History: America's Greatest Historians Examine Thirty-One Uncelebrated Days that Changes the Course of History

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2001-10-01
Publisher(s): DK Publishing, Inc.
List Price: $34.95

Rent Textbook

Select for Price
There was a problem. Please try again later.

New Textbook

We're Sorry
Sold Out

Used Textbook

We're Sorry
Sold Out


We're Sorry
Not Available

This item is being sold by an Individual Seller and will not ship from the Online Bookstore's warehouse. The Seller must confirm the order within two business days. If the Seller refuses to sell or fails to confirm within this time frame, then the order is cancelled.

Please be sure to read the Description offered by the Seller.


America's greatest historians examine thirty-one uncelebrated days that changed the course of history There are moments in American history when something old ends and something new begins. These are the days of destiny. We asked some of the most respected (and best-selling) historians of our time to choose specific days on which American history turned. Their responses make up the month's worth of essays included in this volume. Some chose wars and battles, politics and presidents; others found answers in less well-known areas of historical study: the Great Awakening of the 1740s, the Indian Wars of the 1870s, the plight of working women at the turn of the twentieth century, the countercultural efflorescence of the late 1960s. In Days of Destiny: Crossroads in American History, the Society of American Historians brings you thirty-one engaging narratives, each illuminating with crisp prose and unparalleled scholarship an event that profoundly shaped the nation and world in which we live in. From King Philip's 1675 parley with white colonial officials to the 1973 research conference at which the biotechnology revolution was announced, these vignettes will transport you to places and introduce you to people who have made a continuing difference in the history of America.

Author Biography

James M. McPherson is George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1962. He is the author of a dozen books, mostly on the era of the American Civil War. His Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 1989, and his For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War won the Lincoln Prize in 1998. Alan Brinkley is Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1991. His works include Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression (1982), which won the National Book Award; The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People (1993); The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (1995); and Liberalism and Its Discontents (1998). The Society of American Historians was founded in 1939 by Allan Nevins and several fellow authors for the purpose of promoting literary distinction in historical writing. From its inception, the Society has sought ways to bring good historical writing to the largest possible audience. Membership in the society is by invitation only and is limited to 250 authors. The Society administers four awards: the annual Francis Parkman Prize for the best-written nonfiction book on American history, the annual Allan Nevins Prize for the best-written dissertation on an important theme in American history, the biannual Bruce Catton Prize for lifetime achievement in historical writing, and the biannual James Fenimore Cooper Prize for the best historical novel.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 7
June 17, 1675: King Philip's Quarellp. 12
October 23, 1740: Whitefield Awakens Americap. 26
May 24, 1775: Silas Deane's Diaryp. 38
October 19, 1781: The Battle of Yorktownp. 52
July 16, 1787: The Day the Constitution Was Savedp. 66
June 20, 1790: Mr. Jefferson's Dinner Partyp. 78
March 4, 1801: The Second American Revolutionp. 90
Mid-February 1824: The Way Westp. 102
January 1, 1831: The Liberatorp. 120
July 20, 1848: The Seneca Falls Conventionp. 132
March 6, 1857: The Day of Dred Scottp. 144
September 13, 1862: The Lost Ordersp. 156
June 13, 1866: Equality Before the Lawp. 172
October 5, 1877: "I Will Fight No More Forever"p. 184
February 24, 1908: Affirming the Sexual Division of Laborp. 204
August 14, 1908: The End of Accommodationp. 220
January 1, 1913: The Routine Arrest That Launched a Revolutionp. 234
June 20, 1917: The Great Demandp. 248
July 20, 1925: The Scopes Trial: Darrow v. Bryanp. 264
May 22, 1933: Harry Hopkins Brings Reliefp. 278
April 2, 1943: Testing Americap. 296
July 25, 1945: "The Most Terrible Bomb in the History of the World"p. 308
September 19, 1946: The President Learns about Civil Rightsp. 336
May 3, 1948: Hollywood at the Crossroadsp. 348
January 17, 1961: A Farewell to Armsp. 362
June 21, 1961: The Decision to Publish Kuhnp. 374
July 28, 1965: End of an Era, Start of a Warp. 386
January 14, 1967: The Human Be-Inp. 402
July 12, 1967: Days of Rage: The Life and Death of Newarkp. 418
November 22, 1971: Sally Reed Demands Equal Treatmentp. 440
June 14, 1973: The Battle over Biotechnologyp. 452
About the Contributorsp. 464
Indexp. 467
Photo Creditsp. 495
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


September 13, 1862 The Lost Orders by James M. McPherson Saturday, September 13, 1862, was far from an ordinary late summer day for Cpl. Barton W. Mitchell of the Twenty-seventh Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Early that morning, his regiment had been ordered to stack arms and take a break in a meadow just east of Frederick, Maryland. The Twenty-seventh was part of the XII Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Its soldiers had experienced hard fighting and marching that summer, though they had not been present two weeks earlier at the second battle of Bull Run (or Manassas, as the Confederates called it). The Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan was now probing toward the South Mountain gaps in western Maryland, looking for Gen. Robert E. Lee''s Army of Northern Virginia. Lee had invaded Maryland a week earlier in a climactic effort to conquer a peace, and part of his army had camped four days earlier in the very field where Corporal Mitchell and his buddy, Sgt. John M. Bloss, flopped down in the welcome shade of trees along a fence line. September 13 was a sultry day, and the two tired soldiers hoped to catch forty winks before their regiment resumed its march. As he turned over, however, Mitchell noticed a bulky envelope lying in some tall grass nearby. Curious, he picked it up and discovered inside a sheet of paper wrapped around three cigars. As Bloss went off to hunt for a match, Mitchell noticed that the paper contained writing under the heading "Headquarters, Army of Northern Virginia, Special Orders, No. 191" and was dated September 9. This caught his surprised attention, and his eyes grew wider as he read through the orders studded with names that Northern soldiers knew all too well--Jackson, Longstreet, Stuart--and signed "R. H. Chilton, Assist. Adj.-Gen. By command of Gen. R. E. Lee." "As I read, each line became more interesting," Mitchell said later. "I forgot those cigars." Bloss and Mitchell took the document to their captain, who excitedly passed it on to his regimental commander, who took it to Col. Samuel E. Pittman, division headquarters adjutant. By an extraordinary coincidence, Pittman had known R. H. Chilton in the prewar U.S. Army and recognized his handwriting. The orders were genuine. Pittman rushed to McClellan''s headquarters and showed him the paper. According to one report, the Union commander exclaimed after reading Lee''s orders, "Now I know what to do!" In a telegram to Pres. Abraham Lincoln dated noon on September 13, McClellan reported, "I think Lee has made a gross mistake, and that he will be severely punished for it.... I have all the plans of the rebels, and will catch them in their own trap." McClellan''s elation proved to be overly optimistic, in part because his own movements in response to this remarkable windfall were characteristically slow and cautious. Nevertheless, Maj. Walter J. Taylor of Lee''s staff referred after the war to the significance of these lost orders: "The God of battles alone knows what would have occurred but for the singular accident mentioned; it is useless to speculate on this point, but certainly the loss of this battle-order constitutes one of the pivots on which turned the event of the war." By "the event of the war," Taylor meant the battle of Antietam (called Sharpsburg by the South), which occurred four days later. The loss and finding and verification of Lee''s orders certainly was a "singular accident"; the odds against such a chain of coincidences occurring must have been a million to one. Yet it did occur, and this sequence of events became, according to Taylor, "one of the pivots" on which both the battle and the war turned. What were these orders? How were they lost? Why were they so important? To answer these questions, we must turn back the clock several months. During the first half of 1862, Union arms had won a string of victories along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well as in the river systems of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. In

An electronic version of this book is available through VitalSource.

This book is viewable on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and most smartphones.

By purchasing, you will be able to view this book online, as well as download it, for the chosen number of days.

A downloadable version of this book is available through the eCampus Reader or compatible Adobe readers.

Applications are available on iOS, Android, PC, Mac, and Windows Mobile platforms.

Please view the compatibility matrix prior to purchase.