Border War

Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War

By Stanley Harrold

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 13 halftones, 1 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-0685-9
    Published: February 2013
  • Large Print ISBN: 978-0-8078-9969-4
    Published: January 2011
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-9955-7
    Published: November 2010
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8491-6
    Published: November 2010

Civil War America

Buy this Book

For Professors:
Free E-Exam Copies

To purchase online via an independent bookstore, visit

Awards & distinctions

2010 James A. Rawley Award, Southern Historical Association

Honorable Mention, 2011 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

During the 1840s and 1850s, a dangerous ferment afflicted the North-South border region, pitting the slave states of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri against the free states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Aspects of this struggle--the underground railroad, enforcement of the fugitive slave laws, mob actions, and sectional politics--are well known as parts of other stories. Here, Stanley Harrold explores the border struggle itself, the dramatic incidents that comprised it, and its role in the complex dynamics leading to the Civil War.

About the Author

Stanley Harrold is professor of history at South Carolina State University.
For more information about Stanley Harrold, visit the Author Page.


"A good addition to all Civil War collections."--Library Journal

"This work forces historians to reconsider the fault lines of the origins of the Civil War and promises new directions for research. Highly recommended."--Choice

"Stanley Harrold has written an excellent book that is sure to prompt debate and additional research. It will be required reading for historians of the slavery controversy in the United States."--Civil War Book Review

"Fast-paced, lucid, and well-researched."--American Historical Review

"[This book] can help those trying to develop a better understanding of the issues that led to secession. . . . Highly recommended."--Blue & Gray Magazine

"[This book] should immediately be standard reading for all historians of antebellum America."--Journal of Southern History

Multimedia & Links

Read: In a guest blog post, Harrold reveals similarities in the struggles over legal status of enslaved people seeking freedom in the mid-1800s and some immigrants to the U.S. today. Read "Illegal Immigrants, before the Civil War and Now."