Book by Cameron University history professor slated for publication

A book by Dr. Mark Stegmaier, professor of history at Cameron University since 1975, will be released by Louisiana State University Press in early April. “Henry Adams in the Secession Crisis: Dispatches to the Boston Daily Advertiser, December 1860 - March 1861” is an extensively annotated edition of letters written by famed writer Henry Adams when he was an anonymous Washington correspondent for the Boston Daily Advertiser. The letters are the only works written by Adams that have not been republished since they originally appeared in the Boston newspaper. The forthcoming book was recently noted in The Washington Post by journalist Paul Farhi in an article about Washington journalists in the Civil War era.

“The writings of Henry Adams have been reprinted extensively, so to discover a collection of his work that has never been reprinted was a momentous occasion,” says Stegmaier. “I am grateful for Cameron University’s generous support of my research. The funding I received from the Academic Research Committee and the Katherine D. Lacy Endowed Lectureship in History was vital in the completion of this project.”

Stegmaier, whose research has specialized in this particular field of U.S. history, collected and transcribed the Adams letters, several of which were previously unrecognized by historians or biographers. He has thoroughly annotated them for the understanding of the modern reader.

Henry Adams, great-grandson of President John Adams and grandson of President John Quincy Adams, wrote his Advertiser letters while working as private secretary for his father, Republican Congressman Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts, during the short, tumultuous “Secession Winter” session of Congress just prior to Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration as President and the beginning of the Civil War. Adams’ letters as a newspaper correspondent provide readers with a glimpse into his unique perspective on the developing crisis between North and South. 

Adams spent the Civil War years in London where his father served as U.S. Minister to Great Britain. Following the war, he became a well-known essayist, novelist, and historian. His most famous and enduring work was his autobiographical “The Education of Henry Adams,” which received the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, one year after Adams’ death. That volume ranked first on the Modern Library's 1998 list of 100 Best Nonfiction Books and was named the best book of the 20th century by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative organization that promotes classical education.

Stegmaier’s research for this book grew out of his general research on the session of Congress between Lincoln’s election in early November 1860 and his inauguration on March 4, 1861. For his next project, he plans to write a book focusing on that momentous session of Congress and explain why all compromise efforts to save the Union proved a failure.

Cameron University has generously supported Dr. Stegmaier’s research efforts with funding from the Academic Research Committee and the Katherine D. Lacy Endowed Lectureship in History. 

Articles written by Stegmaier on various aspects of the sectional crisis have recently been published in Ohio History, New Mexico Historical Review, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, and Prologue, the journal of the National Archives. His most well-known work is his book “Texas, New Mexico, and the Compromise of 1850: Boundary Dispute and Sectional Crisis.”  Originally published by Kent State University Press in 1996, it was reprinted in January in a paperback edition by Texas Tech University Press. 

A Maryland native, Stegmaier received a Bachelor of Arts in 1967 from the University of Santa Clara. He earned both his Master of Arts and doctoral degrees from the University of California - Santa Barbara. His wife Diane often assists him in his research, and the Henry Adams book is dedicated to their two grandchildren.

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March 13, 2012

PR#12-050