When I was in graduate school at the
On July 8, 1860, as the temperature soared above 100 degrees, a series of fires caused extensive business property damage in
Against this backdrop, the 1860 presidential campaign, perhaps the most pivotal in American history, was unfolding. The
Was there really a slave insurrection in the summer of 1860? According to Reynolds, “the total absence of any convincing evidence that there was a plot, together with much circumstantial evidence and testimony indicating that none existed, strongly suggests that there was no conspiracy” (p. 214). Therefore, it is entirely possible that the incident was indeed started by the lowly “prairie match.”
Reynolds’ book is one of the most interesting that I have read in recent years and is full of many intriguing episodes. There is much food for thought about the role of journalism, the causes of mass hysteria, and many other topics in his extremely well researched book.