First published in 1979, this volume offers students and teachers a unique view of American history prior to the Civil War. Distinguished historian David Brion Davis has chosen a diverse array of primary sources that show the actual concerns, hopes, fears, and understandings of ordinary antebellum Americans. He places these sources within a clear interpretive narrative that brings the documents to life and highlights themes that social and cultural historians have brought to our attention in recent years. Beginning with the family and the issue of socialization and influence, the units move on to struggles over access to wealth and power; the plight of "outsiders" in an "open" society; and ideals of progress, perfection, and mission. The reader of this volume hears a great diversity of voices but also grasps the unities that survived even the Civil War.