Thomas Lanier Clingman: Fire Eater from the Carolina Mountains is the first book-length biography of one of the most important, colorful, and controversial figures in nineteenth-century American life. A man of enormous intellect and intense ambition whose ultimate goal was nothing less than the presidency, Clingman was a lawyer, entrepreneur, Civil War general, inventor, amateur scientist, explorer, and, as a U.S. congressman and senator, one of the foremost champions of southern rights. Thomas E. Jeffrey's analysis of how a leading advocate of this cause could thrive within an environment where slavery was only a marginal institution provides fresh insights into the political culture of southern Appalachia, the character of the southern rights movement, and the coming of the Civil War.
Thomas E. Jeffrey is associate director of the Thomas A. Edison Papers, a project jointly sponsored by Rutgers University and the National Park Service's Edison National Historic Site. He is the author of "State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina, 1815-1861" (Georgia).