The Original Fight to Save America from Itself

In the early days of the republic, fractious political fights among the founders stoked real fear that the War of Independence might end in disunion and civil war, with separate regional confederacies, rather than a single nation, emerging as the shape of this brand new world. In a new eye-opening account of American history, Disunion Among Ourselves, Vanderbilt University political historian Eli Merritt reveals the details of these deep political divisions that almost tore the Union apart during the American Revolution, and also the triumphs forged from grueling compromises (including the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the Mississippi-Fisheries Compromise of 1779, and the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781, to name a few).

Join us on Tuesday, October 24, from 6:00PM–7:00PM for a fascinating look at this how these early—and occasionally furtive—negotiations managed to hold a young America together for the sake of unity and self-preservation, as well as accounts of the founding players who made it happen.

Tickets: Members – $10 // General Admission – $15

To purchase, click here or call 843.723.9912 during

Box Office Hours (11:00AM–4:00PM, Monday through Thursday).

About the Book

In addition to bringing new insights to the history of the American Revolution and the history of the Civil War, Disunion Among Ourselves has inevitable resonances with our present era of political hyperpolarization and serves as a touchstone for contemporary politics, reminding us that the founders overcame far tougher times than our own through commitment to ethical constitutional democracy and compromise.

“Eli Merritt deftly explores a revolutionary America rife with divisions and driven by a fear of civil wars on multiple fronts. Deeply researched, wide-ranging, and insightful, Disunion Among Ourselves persuades that our national Union began from, and still depends on, fending off the many demons of disunion.”

—Alan Taylor, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair at the University of Virginia and author of American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804

“Disunion Among Ourselves tells an important story that has been missed or skipped over in nearly all histories of the Revolution. It has indeed, as promised, recovered ‘a whole area of the Revolution’ previously underappreciated, and for that is invaluable.”

—Richard Kreitner, writer and historian, author of Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union

About the Author

A political historian at Vanderbilt University, Eli Merritt has written about the dangers of demagogues to democracy for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among dozens of other news outlets. He writes a Substack newsletter called American Commonwealth that explores the origins of the United States’s political discontents and solutions to them.

He completed his B.A. in History at Yale; M.A. in Ethics at Yale, M.D. at Case Western Reserve; internal medicine internship at the Lahey Clinic; and psychiatry residency at Stanford. He is the editor of How to Save Democracy: Inspiration and Advice From 95 World Leaders (Amplify, March 2023) as well as of The Curse of Demagogues: Lessons Learned from the Presidency of Donald J. Trump (Spotlight Press, 2022).

(This event was reposted from the Charleston Library Society events page which is available here.)


Oct 24 2023


6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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The Charleston Library Society


The Charleston Library Society
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