THE COURT-MARTIAL OF MOTHER JONES. Ed. by Edward M. Steel, Jr. (Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1995. Pp. xii, 319. $49.95.)
The 1912-13 coal strike on Paint Creek and Cabin Creek stands out in American labor history for a number of reasons. The strike lasted from the spring of 1912 to the spring of 1913. It was violent with loss of life and injuries from numerous pitched battles. There was massive involvement of the West Virginia National Guard and the governor declared martial law in the strike zone on three separate occasions. The most unique facet of the strike, however, was the use of military courts-martial to try civilians arrested and charged with violations both in and out of the martial law zone. Those convicted were sentenced to the state penitentiary in each of the three periods of martial law. This volume concentrates on the third period of martial law when Mary "Mother" Jones became one of some thirty defendants indicted for a number of offenses, including violation of the "Red Men's Act" and conspiracy to commit murder.
Steel's introduction to the trial transcript is a concise and informative treatment of events leading up to the strike, background on the major characters in the real-life drama played out in the courtroom at Pratt, and an informed discussion on the arguments made at the time and later over the use of the courts-martial for civilians. The trials were reported in the national press, and when Mother Jones became a defendant, they attracted even more national attention. Images of an eighty-year-old-woman being held by armed soldiers in house arrest and practically incommunicado inflamed public opinion and stimulated calls for a congressional investigation of the entire affair. As Steel notes, a telegram from Jones to John Worth Kern, majority leader of the United States Senate, was smuggled out of her jail and read on the Senate floor, aiding the creation of an investigating committee. The introduction is also valuable for the synopsis of the testimony in the transcript and for illustrative background on that testimony. With this preparation, the reader is alerted for nuances in the testimony that might otherwise have been missed. The introduction could have been enhanced with some explanation of how courts-martial are conducted. Normal rules of civil and criminal court procedure do not apply in such trials. For example, instances where members of the court interrupt defense counsel or the judge advocate with questions may seem unusual to the reader if it is not understood such interruptions are permitted. Likewise, the president of the court is the most important individual in the process and not the law officer, roughly the equivalent of the judge in civilian courts.
The transcript itself is primarily testimony of prosecution witnesses because the major defendants, including Mother Jones, refused to enter pleas and denied the authority of the National Guard to try them. The testimony is, nonetheless, worth reading to gain knowledge of conditions on Paint Creek and Cabin Creek before and during the strike, the role of mine guards, and how the militia was first welcomed and then scorned by the striking miners. The transcript clearly shows that the court process was prejudicial to the defendants and their attorneys or appointed military counsel and favored Colonel George S. Wallace, the judge advocate who represented the state. Evidence of wrongdoing by the miners and Mother Jones was practically non-existent and even Wallace had to recommend that charges be dismissed against a number of the men before the trial concluded. Steel was unable to discover precise details about the number convicted but surmised that around twenty received sentences of some length, including Mother Jones. Incoming West Virginia Governor Henry D. Hatfield released Mother Jones by May 7, 1913, and the others had either been released prior to that date or would be by early June.
The Curt-Martial of Mother Jones is the latest of Steel's works concerning Jones's long career as an activist and labor organizer. It is far more than simply another book on this remarkable woman. It is a scholarly presentation of an event which demonstrated the raw power of state and industry working in collusion to control labor.
Kenneth R. Bailey
West Virginia Institute of Technology
Barbara Rasmussen, an independent Appalachian scholar, has drawn on her knowledge and obvious love of West Virginia to compile this interesting work on absentee landownership. Along with a valuable introduction, Rasmussen writes in an engaging style and develops an elaborate framework to convey her thesis. She contends that economic exploitation has existed in West Virginia since the earliest settlement. Rasmussen traces the maneuvers of various agencies and individuals from colonial times, demonstrating that the largest element of this abuse has been committed by land speculators and absentee owners. She grandly and powerfully makes her argument with both secondary and primary sources, such as land records and diverse legal papers, while making the strength of her writing the accurate depiction of events.
Rasmussen's work concentrates on Randolph, Tucker, Pocahontas, Monroe, and Clay counties which are located in the present-day Monongahela National Forest. The first white inhabitants of the five-county region were farmers who brought agricultural traditions with them from eastern settlements, mainly between 1763 and 1783. However, absentee owners, such as Lord Fairfax, and land speculators competed with the farmers for control. By 1880, as the industrial revolution began in the area, the entrepreneurs were strong enough to pilot a brisk industrial transformation. As Rasmussen states: "Mining and timbering competed with agriculture for control of the land, which could not sustain all three economic pursuits."(3) The owners' disparaging methods of control became ingrained, making the inhabitants defenseless to outside interests.
As the inhabitants lost control of their land, they lost their harmonious existence with it and became victimized by a system of exploitation while being flattened into a paradigm of poverty and dependence. Many farmers resisted the changes but the industrialists had secured the political system as well. Their power allowed them to violate the local culture and resources at will. The industrial owners rarely lived in the region but many of the capitalist exploiters were native West Virginians, such as United States senators Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen B. Elkins.
Rasmussen's thesis is reaffirmed throughout the volume as each chapter is sprinkled with examples of absentee exploitation. During the antebellum period, the speculators concentrated on developing their landholding interests by focusing on coal mining and timbering. At the turn of the century, the population of the area boomed as owners brought "tens of thousands" of immigrants to work with impoverished natives. In a short period of fifty years, the forests of Tucker, Randolph, and Pocahontas counties had been largely depleted by heavy timbering. Coal mining also did its damage, especially in Clay County. The owners displayed little consideration for conservation.
Exploitation of the land and people partly explains why this region has failed to profit by economic development. The early control of government enabled absentee owners to secure a land tax system beneficial only to them, while resident West Virginians paid high taxes on food, income, and personal property. As Rasmussen states: "Having lost control of the land, West Virginians face a more difficult and problematic future than do residents of those states that tax more aggressively. West Virginia remains a rich state whose treasury is impoverished by outside influence."(162) Where the capitalizing absentee owners ravaged West Virginia's resources from the earliest times, organizations uch as the United States Forest Service have filled the gap in the twentieth century.
A few counties, such as Monroe, did not industrialize. Since there was little coal to lure industrialists, Monroe County farmers secured their land and a gentry class evolved that paid most of the taxes and retained the political power. The county remains largely agricultural. Rasmussen contends that from the earliest days of settlement, Monroe County's inhabitants fit the classic definition of southern "plain folks" or "yeoman." The population of the county has remained relatively stable. In contrast to the inhabitants of the industrialized counties, the more self-sufficient farmers have been able to take care of themselves during hard times because they owned enough land to feed their families and remained in control of their economic future.
Absentee Landowning is handsomely done and will find much use in future years. Readers will be moved by Rasmussen's compassion and her meticulous and sober analysis of an incredible injustice. True Appalachians will feel a personal acquaintance with Rasmussen's work and Appalachian scholars will not want to be without a copy of this important volume.
David L. Kimbrough
Most residents of West Virginia are familiar with the luxurious four-star Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, if not through first-hand experience, then by reputation. However, few know or remember that for a brief period in its 220-year existence the hotel served the nation as one of its most elegant, and most unusual, military hospitals. From 1942 to 1946, the Greenbrier welcomed American soldiers, airmen, and, in a few rare instances, sailors wounded in the service of their country. Louis E. Keefer's book, Shangri-La for Wounded Soldiers, provides a very readable account of that important period in the hotel's history.
Purchased by the army in 1942 from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the hotel became the Ashford General Hospital, named for Colonel Bailey Ashford, the army's surgeon general during World War I. Keefer conducted oral interviews or corresponded with many former patients, military and civilian staff members, and residents of White Sulphur Springs to gather their memories of wartime life at the facility. Photographs, some taken by the hospital's Special Services unit and some by staff and patients or friends, complement the many reminiscences. Most poignant, however, are the portrait sketches of several patients made by USO artist Robert Pearson Lawrence. The sadness in his subjects' eyes is also seen in the eyes of many recuperating men who were photographed, despite their brave smiles.
With few exceptions, those interviewed recall their time at the Ashford Hospital with much fondness. Many told stories of the bravery of the wounded and their efforts to be lighthearted, the strength and support of their families, and the compassion and concern of the hospital staff, both male and female. Overarching is the sense of camaraderie that developed between staff and patients, typical of the wartime spirit throughout the country at the time. Tales about playing golf, swimming, playing cards, attending dances, watching live performances by famous musicians and actors, encountering General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower in the hallway, or ducking out to the slightly risque Chicken Shack restaurant in White Sulphur Springs pepper the pages of the book.
Town resident Jack Carte, a teenager during the war, delivered newspapers to the hospital everyday and was viewed by many of the patients as their mascot. To him the wounded soldiers were "like gods." He recalled, "in their way, a lot of the men helped me grow up." They often tipped him for delivering their papers and on his birthday remembered him with a present. When Ike visited the hospital, the patients paid for his paper, telling the teenage Carte to be certain to shake the general's hand when he delivere it. After the encounter the men created a special "display" box for the paperboy labeled, "this hand shook General Eisenhower's. One look, one dollar!" It was this attitude, what Carte called "that old American spirit," that seemed to pervade the hospital, despite the many horrors seen and tragedies experienced by the injured and the staff caring for them.
For a brief period at the beginning of American involvement in the war, the hotel served as an internment "camp" for diplomats and aliens from hostile countries. Subsequent to the army's acquisition of the facility, a 165-acre prisoner-of-war camp was constructed near the hotel's airport. Although the first prisoners were Italians captured during fighting in Tunisia, they were replaced by Germans who remained there until the end of the war. Unfortunately, little about "Camp Ashford" and its inhabitants is discussed, although the difficulty in locating and interviewing the former internees is understandable. But their experiences and perceptions of their stay would have been an interesting counterpoint to the stories told by the men and women of Ashford Hospital.
Keefer's work is neither analytical nor scholarly. Reminiscences are presented with only a modicum of commentary or explanation. However, the author states that he was "determined to avoid excessive footnotes and other academic trappings," which he did. This reader would have appreciated more footnotes and more historical context. Notwithstanding, Keefer's work in collecting, preserving, and sharing the wartime stories of the men and women of Ashford Hospital makes an important and enjoyable contribution to the growing body of public history literature in West Virginia.
Mary Ann Landis
Colored People is the type of book many people would like to write about their hometown--if they had the memory and the historical perspective, the ability, the sense of humor, the courage. This reviewer, a native of Cumberland, Maryland, and an alumnus of Potomac State College in Keyser, West Virginia, found the book enjoyable and steeped in nostalgia.
Henry Louis Gates writes primarily about growing up in Piedmont, West Virginia, drawing heavily on the oral history tradition in both black and Appalachian culture. He never forgot the family history he was told as a young man. His father was an excellent storyteller with a keen sense of humor, which the author inherited. The purpose of this endeavor was to set down a record of Gates's life and times growing up in Piedmont as it made the historic journey from segregation to integration.
Gates states his original purpose was to give this account to his daughters, but the book has far greater importance. It is a family history as well as a social history of Mineral County, West Virginia, and adjacent Allegany County, Maryland. This area is tied economically and socially and Gates's family represents this connection, with his mother having roots in Piedmont and his father in Cumberland. The Westvaco paper mill in Maryland draws its workers from the citizens of both states. Gates is proud of his heritage, proud of where he grew up, quick to give credit to his loving parents, and not shy about saying so--a fact which should make all West Virginians proud of him.
West Virginia encouraged integration of its schools as an official policy. Gates tells of the difficulties behind the policy, as when the school denied his brother Rocky a Golden Horseshoe award, even though he passed the test. A white friend infrmed the family of the situation, alleviating Rocky of the pain of blaming himself for failing the test. It is this type of writing that gives life and depth to the static historical facts.
The nostalgia was great fun, as this reviewer shares such memories as that of the Osgood Bus Lines of Morgantown. Gates's uncle Jim Coleman, an Eagle Scout, was scoutmaster of Troop 54 of Piedmont. As a staff member at Camp Potomac, this reviewer well remembers that enthusiastic unit and how impressive Coleman was. Gates's accounts of Mr. Whitmore's fast-paced, idea-packed literature class at Potomac State brought back memories of how Charlie Green, a former scout in Coleman's troop, told the mostly white class after much prompting that race relations were really not all that good for a young black man.
Another part of the book that was extremely enjoyable was the humor. Gates laments that the civil rights movement, over the years, lost its sense of humor. If that is true, the blame surely cannot be laid on Gates or his father. This book has a heavy dose of ethnic humor, like "white folks can't cook so why did we need to integrate the lunch counters." Gates's use of "nigger" conveys a completely different meaning than it does when used by a white person.
Gates tries hard to call situations as he saw them, probably feeling that an accurate account is both more amusing and useful than a sanitized version. The honesty likely hits close to home in some instances because he recalls both names and events, which may well make some people uncomfortable. He comes across in these instances as if talking about family and is not mean spirited.
This book, first published in 1994 and reissued in paper, is absolutely worth reading. Many readers will find it a most enjoyable, educational experience.
West Virginia State Archives
This new work on the Harpers Ferry conspiracy harkens back to an earlier era when "revisionist" historians viewed the abolitionists as fanatic rabble rousers who provoked an unnecessary Civil War. Edward J. Renehan acknowledges his debt to Robert Penn Warren's John Brown: The Making of a Martyr and his new book echoes the anti-abolitionist perspective of that 1929 work. Renehan is harshly critical of the motives of Brown and his followers. In fact, Brown is variously labeled as "quick to unreasoned violence"(86), a "madman"(164), and "confusion, Chaos, and irrationality personified."(274) Renehan even revives the old canard that Brown acted as little better than a petty thief during the guerilla warfare between free- and slave-state settlers in the Kansas Territory in the mid-1850s. The author similarly labels the men who followed Brown to Harpers Ferry as a "little squad of misfits, idealists, and Charlatans."(133) The raid itself is ridiculed as a farce. Renehan's main focus is on the "Secret Six," the small group of well-connected Northeasterners who financed Brown's Harpers Ferry plot. He castigates this group as cowardly dilettantes who encouraged the mentally unstable abolitionist to undertake his hopeless raid and then publicly denied their moral culpability.
The moral certitude behind Renehan's denunciation of Brown and his backers gives the book an eloquencesimilar to a prosecutor's summation. Another reason the book reads well is that the author quotes extensively from the reminiscences of Brown's contemporaries, especially two excellent writers among the Six, Unitarian minister Thomas W. Higginson and educator Benjamin F. Sanborn. Renehan also undertook considerable research in the correspondence collections of Brown's associates. Unfortunately, the book is poorly served by an inadequate number of endnotes, making it difficult to evaluate the evidence for many of Renehan's most controversial findings. With the exception of Stephen B. Oates's 1970 biography of Brown, Renehan makes very little effort to engage the extensive historiography dealing with Brown, Harpers Ferry, or abolitionism. To the popular audience that this book seems addressed, Renehan's dismissal of over three decades of historical reappraisal of abolitionism and its tactics would not be apparent. For scholars of the sectional crisis, however, the book's failure to build upon the insights of Jeffrey Rossbach's The Ambivalent Conspirators (1982), regarding the ambivalent attitudes held by the Six on questions of race and violence, will be regarded a major omission. Similarly, Renehan ignores the recent arguments of Merton Dillon's Slavery Attacked (1990) that the small band around Brown represented the opening wedge of the steadily increasing number of white and black abolitionists convinced that the slave insurrection held the only reliable key to emancipation.
Despite these significant problems, Renehan's book adds to historians' knowledge regarding the Harpers Ferry raid. The book supplies biographical details that help explain the equivocating behavior most of the Six displayed before and after the Harpers Ferry attack. For example, Renehan traces Massachusetts physician Samuel Gridley Howe's habitual wavering at crisis points to the traumatizing impact of his imprisonment by the Turks during the Greek War of Independence decades earlier. Renehan also makes clear for the first time how close the conspiracy came to collapse in mid-1858 when the Six stood threatened with exposure by British mercenary Hugh Forbes. The book devotes needed attention to the actions of Brown's supporters not just in the immediate aftermath of the raid but in their subsequent careers as reformers. Most significantly, Renehan explodes the public denials of Howe and industrialist George L. Stearns, often credited by historians, that Brown had not supplied them with precise details of his insurrectionary intentions. Renehan's account of the immediate panic and subsequent falling out of Brown's supporters after the raid's failure is a valuable contribution to the Harpers Ferry story. The author's overriding determination to indict both the character and tactics of the militant abolitionists, however, raises troubling doubts about the accuracy of important parts of his portrayal of the conspiracy.
John R. McKivigan
West Virginia University
This collection of ten essays is the first of its kind since abolitionist James Redpath hastily assembled a similar volume immediately following John Brown's trial and execution in 1859. The authors go far beyond the traditional dichotomy of Northern sympathy and Southern alarm to reveal more subtle social and political fissures widened by the events at Harpers Ferry.
Bertram Wyatt-Brown's introductory essay sets the tone of the collection, reminding us that the widely varying reactions to the raid only served to compound the mystery surrounding the man and his life. Editor Finkelman contributes his own excellent essay examining the process by which Brown was made a martyr of the antislavery cause. While clearly sympathetic to the antislavery movement, Finkelman nevertheless points up the more ruthless and manipulative elements of its leadership. One might be shocked at the frightening speed with which Brown's friends pushed him towad the gallows at Charles Town, if not for the fact that Brown himself was just as intent upon achieving that end. The manufacture of Brown's martyrdom, strange and unsavory though it may seem by today's standards, reminds us of the level of intensity assumed by the antislavery movement at the end of its most frustrating decade of existence.
Part of that frustration stemmed from the fact that Northern and Southern conservatives, by decade's end, successfully marginalized abolitionists and fire-eaters alike. Peter Knupfer suggests that conservative elements in both sections were on the verge of establishing a powerful coalition when the raid occurred. The resulting crisis ironically ended up aiding the Republican party by raising "issues that set conservatives against each other" and encouraging the Republicans "to confine their campaign to the North."(137) Conservative elements in the South, meanwhile, found themselves increasingly isolated. According to Peter Wallenstein, the main cause of this collapse surprisingly was not the raid itself, but the outpouring of Northern sympathy for Brown after his capture. Had conservatives been able to muffle this spontaneous outburst, the raid's overall impact would have been far less devastating upon their ranks.
Especially compelling are essays by James O. Breeden and Robert E. McGlone. Breeden's account of the dramatic withdrawal of Southern medical students from two Philadelphia colleges following the raid reveals both the intensity and limits, since only half of the students withdrew, of Southern nationalism following the raid. Far from being an insignificant event, Breeden argues, the withdrawal foreshadowed the following year's secession crisis both in form and content. In his study of the insanity issue, McGlone relates the odd, symbiotic relationship which Virginia Governor Henry Wise and Brown forged in the weeks following the raid. In what has to be one of the stranger episodes of the Harpers Ferry saga, the reactionary and the revolutionary cooperated intimately to insure that Brown's attorneys failed to establish an insanity defense.
Daniel C. Littlefield and Wendy Hamand Venet illustrate that Brown's impact was more than just political. Littlefield posits that African Americans faced a no-win situation before and after Harpers Ferry. Their overt participation would have played into the stereotyping of blacks as bloodthirsty savages, while their near-total abstention reinforced claims that they were docile and stupid. Ironically, Brown contributed to this dilemma by subtly questioning the abilities of the black Americans who fought with him. Venet shows that the activism of abolitionist Lydia Maria Child following the raid created a public stir, mostly between Northern and Southern women, over females' proper role. The debate culminated in a famous exchange, later published, between Child and Margaretta Mason, the wife of Virginia Senator James Mason.
Perhaps the first to do so, Seymour Drescher gauges European reactions to Brown's raid, unveiling inconsistencies within the British abolitionist movement, as well as covering Brown's treatment in the writings of the French revolutionary, Pierre Vesnier. The most provocative essay of the group is Charles Joyner's anthropological view of the raid and its aftermath. Joyner utilizes a "social drama" model, developed initially to study ritual within "preliterate" societies, with decidedly mixed results. Considering the broad, complex scope of this particular drama, occupying as it did the national arena, Brown's trial and execution more closely resemble farce than ritual.
The anthology, as a whole, represents a significant contribution to the field and bodes of a resurgence in debate over Brown's impact. The collection by no means closes the book on the discussion but, in fact, points up other avenues of research. For example, one might ferret out Southern sympathy toward the raid, rare though it may have been. As suggested by Wyatt-Brown in his introduction, when it comes to evaluating John Brown's impact upon American consciousness, the possibilities are limitless.
James H. Cook
West irginia University
Appalachia in the Making is, unquestionably, the most important book on the transformation of the mountain South in the nineteenth century to be published in years. Mary Beth Pudup, Dwight Billings, and Altina Waller have collected fourteen critical essays by some of the most outstanding scholars of Appalachian history, who call for a critical new assessment of our understanding of the Appalachian region. To explore the subtleties of Appalachian life during the nineteenth century, the editors have selected essays that explore the social, political, and economic structures that framed the mountain world. By examining the social construction of gender, race, community, and class, these essays offer new paradigms for enriching our understanding of Appalachia as a region within the larger American system.
At the heart of this scholarship is an invitation to reconsider Appalachian "exceptionalism," the belief that the economic and social history of the mountain South has been distinctive. As Mary Beth Pudup argues in her introductory essay, "Appalachian regions and communities . . . resemble in fundamental ways regions and communities elsewhere in the United States."(14) The essays in this collection convincingly support this assertion by demonstrating to the reader that there was never a singularly unique Appalachian experience but a plethora of experiences that reflected the changing conditions of the region as well as of the United States. Appalachia in the Making soundly confirms just how sophisticated Appalachian scholarship has become in the last twenty years. Unlike earlier portraits that depicted the region through a single dimension in which the population was divided into evil outside exploiters and innocent natives, Appalachia in the Making draws a picture of a complex, complicated century in which individuals struggled to make their way in a world being fundamentally altered through large-scale land transactions, economic upheaval, social disruption, and industrial development. Instead of a static portrait, these essays offer a vibrant image of a region in transition, populated by autonomous agents making critical choices they believed to be in their best interest.
Pudup and her co-editors have done an outstanding job of selecting essays that illuminate the experiences of a variety of Appalachians. In Mary Anglin's contribution on gender in the mountains of North Carolina, we are finally presented with a sentient analysis of the lives of women in nineteenth-century Appalachia. John Inscoe, in describing racial relations, demonstrates that traditional stereotypes of the freedom-loving, colorblind mountaineer have failed to consider adequately the economic ambitions of mountain inhabitants. Like Anglin and John Finger, who wrote about the Cherokees, Inscoe's work reminds us that further scholarship is imperative if we are to comprehend the forces that promoted cooperation and conflict among disempowered groups of Appalachians.
This book also fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the economic and social structures that supported Appalachian life during the nineteenth century. Ralph Mann, Gordon McKinney, and John Alexander Williams have all produced laudatory essays demonstrating the diversity of social and economic conditions across the mountains. Mann's essay is especially important for reminding us that diverse economic and social conditions could exist within very narrow geographical quarters. Wilma Dunaway, in what may be the volume's most thought-provoking essay, challenges the generally accepted tenet that Appalachia was a paradise for yeoman farmers during the nineteenth century.
The final essays are devoted to the transformation of the region during industrialization. Dwight Billings, Kathleen Blee, Mary Beth Pudup, Ronald Lewis, Alan Banks, and Altina Waller offer the reader insightful arguments that deconstruct previously held concepts about the region ndustrial heritage. Rather than accepting the assertion that outside capitalists invaded the region and imposed their will on the natives, these authors have broken down the processes through which those events occurred and offer us significant new detail about the ways in which power is acquired and wielded. In his treatise on the timber industry in West Virginia, for example, Lewis documents the transformation of the state's legal system as wealthy investors influenced the courts to alter traditional doctrines and rule in their favor, recreating the judicial and legal systems to suit their needs.
All of the essays in this work remind us that the construction of Appalachia has been a contested process. Appalachia in the Making takes a critical first step in analyzing and discussing that contested ground. Like Steven Hahn and Jonathan Prude's work, The Countryside in the Age of Capitalist Transformation, this book will be welcomed by all scholars, Appalachian or not, who seek to further their understanding of the processes by which modern America was created.
Lock Haven University
These past several years, tremors of Wilma Dunaway's approaching book have been disturbing the complacency of Appalachian scholars. Now the book is out and battle lines are forming. What is controversial about this book is not the reliability of its evidence, which is solid, but the contentiousness of its interpretation. No Appalachian stereotype seems immune from Dunaway's research agenda. By far the most comprehensive study ever made of pre-Civil War Appalachia, Dunaway's book is bursting with findings that will keep other scholars busy for some years--not least, however, in using her sources to try to refute some of her claims.
Dunaway did most of her research while writing a sociology dissertation, twice as long as the book, at the University of Tennessee. But unlike most Appalachian scholars, she took the whole region and even some of the Piedmont for her "case study." Making most other scholars look lazy by comparison, she researched as deeply about the whole region as most scholars research their mere nook and cranny of it. This book will serve as a treasury of sources and research questions for many, many years.
Using mountains of hard-won data and imaginative calculations, Dunaway imposes a straight-jacket on Immanuel Wallerstein's world-systems theory. Readers can simplify their task by distinguishing between two types of gloss, "mere verification" and "comprehensive analysis." After chapter one sets forth the book's themes, chapter two asks whether southern Appalachia's Native Americans and its early white hunters and gatherers were linked to southern slave markets and to world fur and ginseng markets. The link is verified with a wealth of detail, including some that is quantitative despite the spottiness of records available from that early period.
Chapter three asks whether speculators acquired title to most of southern Appalachia, especially between 1790 and 1810. Again such "engrossment" is verified with a wealth of detail. Quantification is attempted and is even asserted on numerical tables of "acreage owned." Such quantification is problematic because it is not claimed for any specific year but instead for the entire twenty-year period, thereby perhaps double-listing some or all of the considerable acreage which changed hands during those years. Yet here too Dunaway identifies and culls a wealth of sources, smoothing the way for future researchers.
Chapter four asks whether poverty existed in pre-Civil War Appalachia. It also investigates what percentage of the population did not own land and what percentage did not own enough land to be completely self-sufficient. Again, data is marshalled to show some people lived in poverty and a sizable proportion of the population owned no land, or not enough to save them from having to hie themselves out as wage workers, often for wages that were paid in-kind. Dunaway argues convincingly that this "commodification of labor" tended to increase over time, but less convincingly, she insists that free sharecroppers and farm laborers should be lumped with slaves as "coerced workers"(90), and that sharecroppers, like farm laborers, should be categorized as wage workers.(121)
Chapter five asks what percentage of Appalachian farm families were subsistence producers. By defining subsistence producers very stringently, Dunaway is able to call "little more than one-tenth of the region's farm owners . . . either subsistence or near-subsistence producers."(124-25) Dunaway further obfuscates this important issue by defining subsistence farming and market farming as mutually exclusive, whereas, in actuality before the Civil War, most Appalachian farm families could easily feed themselves and their animals and, concurrently, barter or sell the rest of their output. Compounding the confusion still further, Dunaway calls the mentality of Appalachia's subsistence farmers
largely irrelevant, for it would have been almost impossible for such a subsistence producer to be totally free of the capitalist economy. Even if our subsistent farmer supplied only a few hours each week toward production of export iron to receive from the furnace company store only small amounts of imported dry goods, and even if only a few purchases of coffee and sugar were made each year, then this Appalachian was still part of a far-reaching capitalist trade network. Only total isolation from all market exchanges-- including reciprocal barter with neighbors--would have guaranteed autonomy from the world economy. The subsistence producer stopped being "precapitalist" as soon as he or she engaged in a chain of exchanges that involved even one actor that was linked into the capitalist economy.(231)
Dunaway's argument here is apparently intended to advance her thesis that from some unspecified early date southern Appalachia was already "incorporated" into Wallerstein's world-system. What her tendentious definition of subsistence farming and her dogma about "incorporation" may actually provoke, however, is an equally dogmatic rejection of her solid evidence that external trade was very important in early Appalachia. This would be especially unfortunate in light of chapters six through nine, which break new ground in documenting industrial activity, especially iron-making, far beyond what nineteenth-century census records reported. These four chapters are extremely edifying and, as Dunaway leaves behind the subject of agriculture, she grows refreshingly undogmatic. These chapters will reward West Virginia historians with treasures galore.
Dunaway's concluding chapter is a closely reasoned analysis of "Economic Crisis and Deepening Peripheralization" in southern Appalachia during the twenty years just before the Civil War. Dunaway leaves behind not only dogma but any further verification of her anti-stereotypes. She embarks on a brilliant thirty-five-page analysis of both the causes and the consequences of what she calls antebellum Appalachia's economic decline.
This is a book that gets better with almost every chapter and, most of all, it is chapter ten which makes this reviewer look forward to further works from the amazing, if contentious, Wilma A. Dunaway.
Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
In James Still's classic novel, River of Earth, the mother goes to the top of the hill to the graveyard where her "baby" was interred. Looking down at the grave she laments, "I wisht to God I'd had a picture tuck of the baby o it could be sot in the arbor during the meeting. I wisht to God I'd had it tuck," she says scoldingly to herself. Still demonstrates a truism in the southern mountains: while technology was seeping into the region and saturating many aspects of the culture, continuity monitored the changes.
How the living have changed dying is the concern of James K. Crissman's book Death and Dying in Central Appalachia. In the vast majority of deaths in contemporary central Appalachia, Crissman notes, the decedent is kept overnight in a church or, even more commonly, a funeral "parlor" or "home," and at least 90 percent of the bodies are embalmed. But it was not always this way. No longer are there functional reasons to "sit up" all night with a body to keep away cats, insects, rats, body snatchers, and other predators or even to comfort family and friends through the wee hours by reminiscing about the life of the recently departed.
While there is change, however, there is also continuity, and the author, in an extensive and frequently exhaustive look at dying, in which fieldwork from West Virginia figures prominently, has much to say about continuity. The viewing is still a social event. Attendees still get a chance to see people they have not seen in years, show respect for the deceased and his or her living family and friends, comfort those who mourn, remember days gone by, and simply socialize. At several southern funerals, both inside and outside the South, this reviewer has attended recently, someone pointed out the irony in twentieth-century southern social life: "It's too bad something like this has brought us all together. We really should visit more. . . ." Another nice example of continuity among change is funeralizing, the most unique of central Appalachian death customs, in which bodies were buried immediately and the sermon was preached later at a more convenient time. When the shortage of clergy no longer made funeralizing functional, memorial day(s) took its place and became a day for people to get together and carry out basically the same aspects of funeralizing.
Crissman begins his project by reminding the reader how close death was to people before the twentieth-century "evasion" of death began. Even in 1900, a person could expect to live only forty-seven years, so life was peppered with dying. Because of the extended family structure, the dead were cared for in the home and a whole range of cultural practices formed around death. Sometimes gradually, sometimes rapidly, technology began to change dying--most directly, perhaps, through an increasingly longer life expectancy but also through safer workplaces, health care, and through family structure itself. Because of the unevenness of capitalist development, the labor surplus throughout the southern mountains was forced to move out to survive, and smaller families found themselves in Detroit or Columbus or Chicago where they received the call that a loved one "down home" had died. Technology began to take dying out of the home and take the home out of dying. Hospitals and mortuaries replaced the home and, later, the church as the places where care was provided.
Having established the big picture, James Crissman begins each chapter, ranging from the death watch to the preparation of the body to grave digging to burial customs and memorialization, by setting central Appalachian practice in the world historical context, a pattern interesting at times but often resembling, well, a dead horse near the end. But along the way, the reader is treated to wonderful cultural aspects of the southern mountains. We learn of the many practices associated with death that were an honor, and not just a job, such as washing and combing a decedent's hair, using the best wood for a coffin, or making sure to shore up a freshly dug grave. We also learn of the customs associated with death, such as quickly stopping the clock as soon as death came; covering mirrors; ringing the dinner bell to mark the death; the strong sense of place among many mountaineers even after death, evidenced by the preference to be interred on a hill or mountaintop facing east; and of building a grave house, a house the living built for he dead. Much to his credit, Crissman also includes the grisly characteristics of death that twentieth-century culture has tried so diligently to cover over, how swollen bodies during summer funerals could explode and destroy the coffin, not to mention the funeral, in the pre-embalming days, for example, or how embalming, which became popular in the 1930s and 1940s, is done. Inclusion of this side of the story again reminds the reader of the changes that have occurred.
Crissman displays an impressive mastery of literature and leaves out little. The one underdeveloped aspect was the discussion of material culture in chapter seven. This reviewer's grandmother, for example, told how family members would tear open the feather pillow of the decedent immediately after death to see if a "death's crown," or a circular clump of matted feathers, was present, which revealed that the soul of the departed was in heaven. The author would also have been well served by a more careful editor, for his manuscript is distractingly repetitive (see, for example, page 196).
This book could have been a memorial to the school of cultural studies that sees only change instead of continuity or, if you will, the death customs instead of afterlife or reincarnation. Crissman generally does not succumb to this scholarly temptation, often pointing out plausibly how the telephone, for example, has changed but not eliminated the region's neighborliness and visiting. But in the summary, he comes dangerously close to eulogizing the customs that he believes the twentieth-century service economy will soon finish. Some scholars, particularly folklorists and those accustomed to seeing regional differences and variety, will probably disagree with his prediction that "traditional ways will eventually die out" and that "before too much longer, [central Appalachian] residents will find themselves to be not much different from the rest of the country, in life or in death."(207-08)
Deborah Vansau McCauley's work Appalachian Mountain Religion is simply a masterpiece and perhaps the best book ever produced on Appalachian religion. McCauley is an independent scholar who specializes in American religious history. In this fascinating study, which began as a doctoral dissertation directed by well-respected historian Robert Handy at Columbia University, McCauley traces the development of Appalachian religion from the standpoint of religious studies and illustrates that mountain religion has integrity that most scholars have neglected.
In the absence of good written historical sources, McCauley conducted field research by using the participant-observation approach. Her field studies are the most impressive phase of her work. She spent years traveling throughout Appalachia, attending religious services, interviewing numerous church members, and recording and photographing various aspects of religious life. McCauley combed the existing literature, both primary and secondary sources, to provide additional depth. She does not focus on white, middle-class religion like other researchers have done. McCauley highlights the great diversity found in Appalachian religion, thoroughly examining the denominational spectrum such as the many varieties of Baptists to the multiplicity of Pentecostal/Holiness congregations who have shared historical bonds.
McCauley's main goal was to find a definition of mountain religion and to identify the historical forces that have formed it. She contends that a large part of mountain religious history has been influenced by practices that lead back to the Scottish revivals conducted in the seventeenth century. She also examines events and rituals that have influenced mountain beliefs, such as the nineteenth-century camp meetings, hymn lining, the holy kiss, German pietism, the Dunkard practices of footwashing and total baptism, and Scots-Irish revivalism.
By the 1820s, McCauley claims, two centuries of customs had blended ito a religion that made itself unique and distinct from other forms of American Protestantism. Most mountain people insist on having direct religious experience and place emphasis on attaining salvation by grace or a religious experience directed by the Holy Ghost. It is through Holiness preachers Brother Coy Miser and Sister Lydia Surgener that the reader gains insight into Appalachian religion. Miser, who is uneducated and leads a simple lifestyle, supports himself instead of being a "paid preacher." Sister Lydia preaches in two small Holiness churches and supports herself by running a used clothing store that caters to coal miners. Both preachers rely on spiritual experiences and emphasize love and grace in their sermons. McCauley views their emphasis on conversion as the core of mountain religion.
In the latter stages of the nineteenth century, Protestant denominations began sending their missionaries into the mountains with their condescending and stereotypical ideas about local worship practices. Their goal was to impose their religious and cultural values onto people whom they viewed as practicing primitive forms of religion and being deprived of true religion. They ignored mountain people's religiosity and religious traditions. In the same manner that David Whisnant attacks outsiders thrusting their standards on mountain people, McCauley attacks the missionaries, including the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center (AMERC) based in Berea, Kentucky, where she studied and taught.
As small points of criticism, perhaps the work is excessive and could be shortened. McCauley dismisses the snake handlers as being sensational, but her point about outsiders viewing all Appalachian religious participants as snake handlers and ignoring denominations such as the Primitive Baptists is well taken. After all, only twenty-five hundred snake handlers exist in the United States and most congregations are found in Appalachia. However, the snake handlers' roots can be traced to the revivals, just like other denominations. If the snake box is taken out of a church, no difference can be seen between the snake handlers and many other denominations in Appalachia. McCauley is perfectly aware snake handling is only a small part of the services.
These criticisms are minute in respect to the quality of McCauley's work. The book is not for someone who wants a brief summary of Appalachian religion; it is an immensely detailed and lucidly argued analysis of religious attitudes and organizations. It is comprehensive, exhaustive, copiously footnoted, and a testimonial to the high level of scholarship that has recently characterized Appalachian religious history. Appalachian Mountain Religion is valuable for both generalists and specialists. It will reign for a thousand years as the definitive work on Appalachian religion.
David L. Kimbrough
In the study of church traditions indigenous to the mountains of Appalachia, the most significant gap has been in ethnomusicology. Yet music is very much at the core of mountain religious life. Beverly Bush Patterson's Sound of the Dove is the first book-length study in ethnomusicology of a specific genre of mountain religious music. She does not abstract it from but places it squarely in the context of the mountain church tradition which gives it life and to which it gives life, as this important study makes eloquently clear.
The Primitive Baptist tradition is known for its varying shades of predestinarian atonement theology. Despite popular assumptions that a doctrine of the elect is elitist or exclusive, Patterson makes clear the singularly important nuance of non-absolutarian Primitive Baptist traditions in the mountains, which affords an understanding of election that affirms an inclusivity and universality uncharacteristic even of more broad-based traditions. Church historian Arthur Carl Piepkorn stands in support of this nuanced interpetation of Primitive Baptists in America. What makes Appalachian Primitive Baptist churches distinctive, as well as representative of mountain religious culture, is a symbolic self-consciousness identified with the lowly yet unmatchable dove whose "sorry" nest is but twigs and sticks. Plaintive though it may be, even the mockingbird cannot imitate it. "And that is the reason," says Brother Dardeen, "so many apply the representation of the dove to the church, is that the church has that sound which nobody else can."(39)
Patterson carefully delineates through lyric and especially through sound how closely religious identity is invested in singing, a focus that culminates in her concluding chapter. She clothes her musicological analyses and interpretations with astute field observations of church behavior and interviews with participants. When she asks what is the nature of the church community, a participant replies, "it's a home, it's a place where we get spiritual food, and spiritual blessings, and it's the most wonderful place I know of here on earth."(59) Another brother explains the importance of singing without musical notation, "you know, that's the secret in not having the notes to these [hymns]; a fellow can just sing it . . . however his heart feels."(85) Patterson's particular contribution is that she takes with utmost seriousness these tenderhearted qualities and features that are so difficult to track. Despite their gossamer character, they allow her to paint a very solid portrait of how the tradition of Primitive Baptist music in the mountains gives voice, indeed gives life and substance, to wonderfully affirming, and for the outsider, humbling, communal values and a complementary worldview. As Patterson well understands and makes clear, the music of the Primitive Baptists cannot be comprehended and appreciated apart from such defining features.
Patterson gives particular attention to women in Primitive Baptist churches, devoting a chapter to their participation in church life, especially through music, and drawing together additional insights in the concluding chapter about women in the Primitive Baptist tradition. This is certainly one of the most refreshing features of Patterson's study. Patterson is the first to bring the insights of women's studies to a monograph that provides special emphasis on women in a particular church tradition. More importantly, Patterson identifies and conveys a persuasive context in which the egalitarian religious values of Primitive Baptists are in fact given substance through the socially and musically commanding participation of women even within a conservative, traditionalist setting for church life. Such an interpretation, which hinges on subtleties, is significant to the emerging Appalachian religious studies. Some notable ethnographers guided by the perspective of women's studies have examined gender roles in similar church traditions elsewhere, only to propose interpretations grounded in the rubric of oppression.
Patterson is the first to explore in monograph form the oral tradition of Primitive Baptist worship in song. She does an excellent job of exploring the historical and theological roots of the music tradition, extending back to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England and Scotland. She also devotes a chapter to the influence of notation and gospel songs on Primitive Baptist music, thus reconciling a long-standing mystery. Patterson's study for the first time solidly links representative statements quoted from Primitive Baptist participants about the church and the distinctive mode of singing to church identity; extensive observation of the particulars of the worship life; and the technical understanding of how the music works in and of itself, which she sets forth in language accessible to those barely literate in the discourse of musicology.
An hour-long cassette accompanies the book which incorporates eleven pages of notes on the selections found in the sound recording. The range "represents the general practice of Old Baptist singing"(223), from hymn lining to gospel-based songs reshaped in this instance by Primitive Baptist predestinarian theology. As is true of most Old Bapist church music, of which the Primitive Baptists are a part, the singing is unaccompanied. Patterson is at pains throughout her book to illustrate the significance to the identity of individual church communities that is grounded in subtle differences in local performance and repertoire. The sound recordings bring these differences to life. Those familiar with Old Baptist Appalachian church singing will want to include the tape in their collection; those unfamiliar with such music will certainly need to acquire it with the book. Indeed, the availability of sound documentaries of this music tradition in the mountains is very meager. The University of Illinois Press, which has published this work as part of its Music in American Life series, has performed a notable service by including a sound recording to accompany the text.
The Sound of the Dove, both book and cassette, is based on field research in several Primitive Baptist churches in the central Blue Ridge area of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, with supplemental work in eastern Kentucky in later years. The book is filled with dozens of transcriptions of hymn tunes and representative examples of the varieties of verse settings. More in-depth analysis of hymn texts would have been appreciated, but that is not the task that Patterson set for the book. The carefully selected analyses she provides are enlightening, to the point, and meet the book's specific purpose.
Deborah V. McCauley
East Orange, NJ
Beginning in 1932 with Arthur Raper's still-seminal book, The Tragedy of Lynching, historians and social scientists have struggled to explain why southern whites hanged, burned, and mutilated several thousand of their black neighbors between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the Great Depression. Two broad schools of thought exist with respect to the causes of lynching. According to the more widely accepted of these two models, lynchings were politically motivated. In this view, whites felt politically outnumbered and threatened by the recently enfranchised black population. Whites resorted to terrorism to intimidate blacks from voting or seeking office after Reconstruction. For example, scholars have asserted that southern Democrats lynched blacks to deter them from supporting Republicans during the 1880s or Populists a decade later.
The other explanation for lynching, first articulated by Raper, maintains that lynching is primarily an economic institution. Proponents of this approach argue that when the earnings of poor whites deteriorated they turned to lynching out of sheer frustration or a desire to displace blacks as economic competitors. Several studies, for instance, have concluded that extremely depressed cotton prices during the early 1890s explain why lynchings were more frequent during those years than any later period.
In A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930, sociologists Stewart E. Tolnay and E. M. Beck provide fairly compelling support for Raper's proposition that southern lynchings were rooted in economic conditions. Beck and Tolnay use an impressive array of empirical data and statistical techniques to illustrate that political competition played an insignificant role in the phenomenon of lynching. The authors argue convincingly that if lynch mobs were motivated by fear of black political participation vigilantism should have declined precipitously after about 1900 when African Americans were disenfranchised throughout the South. Using interrupted times-series regression models, the authors demonstrate that widespread disenfranchisement failed to change temporal patterns of lynching appreciably. Tolnay and Beck found no evidence that lynchings were positively related to the strength of the Republican party during the 1880s or the Populists in the 1890s.
In place of the political-threat model of lynching, Beck and Tolnay endorse the conclusion of Raper and others that whites lynched whn they perceived blacks to threaten them economically. Their thesis is that blacks were most at risk when lynching served the economic interests of all strata of white society. The authors demonstrate that lynchings rose when cotton prices plummeted, such as during the early 1890s and again immediately after World War I. Beck and Tolnay embrace Raper's theory that during periods of economic distress poor whites used lynchings to displace blacks from desirable land or jobs. Beck and Tolnay refine Raper's theory when they also suggest that upper-income whites as well as tenant farmers benefitted from lynchings. White employers' persistent nightmare was the specter of a bi-racial coalition of sharecroppers demanding improved terms of trade. The risk of such a threatening alliance was greatest when cotton prices were lowest. The elite, therefore, at least tacitly supported lynchings because these public murders fostered racial hatred and division among the local labor force. Only when the Great Migration threatened to deplete the South of cheap black labor did the white elite firmly oppose lynching. The demise of lynching after 1930 was largely the result of the elite's interest in both stemming the exodus of terrorized black workers to the North and convincing outside manufacturers that the South was a stable environment in which to invest and operate.
Although Tolnay and Beck's book is a critical contribution to the literature on southern vigilantism, it is geographically limited in a number of respects. For example, their focus on the culture of King Cotton as a proximate cause of lynching restricts the reach of Tolnay and Beck's conclusions to the Deep South. After all, southern states with small cotton sectors, such as Kentucky and Florida, experienced horrific lynching levels. Even more limiting is the authors' definition of the South to exclude Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy and site of eighty-six lynchings between 1880 and 1930. The authors' unexplained failure to incorporate and consider Virginia's documented lynchings mar an otherwise well-researched piece of scholarship on southern race relations.
Paul G. Beers
As writers have penned lines regarding the South, they have described the region as a monolithic unit. The same rule generally holds true when scholars have written about southern women. People have assumed that southern women have been ultra-southern and ultra-feminine. An overriding image of women of the South has been that of the submissive, obedient woman who caters to men. What permeates much of the writing about southern women has been the dominant images that emerged from Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. Outsiders often accept the image of the southern lady as portrayed through the character of Melanie Wilkes or the polar opposite of Scarlett O'Hara, the southern belle. The lives of both these women revolved around the men in their lives. In Daughters of Canaan, Margaret Ripley Wolfe challenges many of the assumptions people have made about southern women. Her work calls attention to the diverse nature of their lives and proves that there is no "single distinctive southern woman."
As pointed out in the book's prologue, Canaan symbolized promise to the biblical Hebrews, but the institutions of paternalism and patriarchy were also deeply embedded there. This fact, of course, makes the parallel to southern women relevant, for their lives have historically revolved in and around the male sphere. Wolfe's book is important because it challenges these historical images. She proves that despite obstacles, such as paternalism, tradition, religion, class, race, gender, and patriarchy, southern women have not only been "acted upon" but have been actresses upon the stage of history.
She points to the fact that throughout southern history, women have risen to the challenge and helped forge paths when none existed. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, suthern women experienced abuse and racism. Sex was at times used as a commodity in southern life. Wives were put on pedestals while husbands had sexual relations with other women. While most women, black, white, and Indian, were victims of Anglo-Saxon patriarchy, a few like Margaret Brent enjoyed a measure of power and independence. However, even her freedom was limited by the constraints of colonial society.
Wolfe argues that the Revolutionary War brought some promise to southern women. Women engaged in political exercise through Republican Motherhood, that is, training their children to be loyal patriots. As men went off to war, women assumed responsibility for the farms and businesses. Of course, it must be remembered that this was true for women in the North as well. While women contributed to the revolutionary cause through traditional responsibilities, some also ventured to disguise themselves as soldiers to fight and to raise money for their cause. Despite these vital efforts in securing independence from Great Britain, neither the Declaration nor the new Constitution recognized the "specific civil existence of women." Clearly, John Adams and his associates did not "remember the ladies" despite Abigail Adams's admonition. As Wolfe states, "the political conflagration of the eighteenth century did not herald a new 'golden' age for women."
The nineteenth century witnessed the perpetuation of the southern woman as an "adjunct to the real human being, man, and it was not considered desirable to give her any other education than what sufficed to make her a good housewife and an agreeable, but not too critical, companion for her husband."(60) By the middle of the century, this attitude had not deteriorated but rather was reinforced because of the increasing conflict over slavery.
Change was on the horizon for American women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Southern women participated in the suffrage campaign, demanded reforms in education, involved themselves in organizations like the Young Women's Christian Association, and ran for public office. Through these avenues they challenged southern conservatism; at times, however, they perpetuated the status quo.
Wolfe also examines the status of feminism in the South, where the jargon of the women's liberation movement and its ideals have faced considerable resistance. If the South indeed is a mirror of the biblical land of Canaan, then the opposition is understandable. One must remember, however, that assertive and independent women can be found in biblical verse.
Daughters of Canaan is a well-written overview of southern women's lives. Utilizing many of the leading scholars in women's history and southern history, Wolfe has written a book that challenges many of the old stereotypes about southern women. What she has accomplished is the presentation of a balanced examination of southern women's history. Pleasurable reading and a welcome addition to the fields of women's history and southern history, Daughters of Canaan is challenging yet highly suitable for courses in women's history.
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
For more than 130 years, Americans have believed that the murder of President Abraham Lincoln was initiated by one man, the infamous John Wilkes Booth. In recent years, however, historians have questioned the traditional version of the events surrounding the 1865 assassination. In his 1988 publication, Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln, William A. Tidwell, a retired brigadier general with an extensive background in intelligence work, surmised that Booth may have been working as an agent for the Confederate Secret Service. His latest publication, April '65, further explores this theory, relying on previously undiscovered documents. While Tidwell's contentions will undoubtedly provoke further debate regarding te role of this agency in regard to the assassination of the president, it is most valuable for its general, yet in-depth examination of the Confederacy's clandestine operations.
Tidwell begins by examining the funding of the Confederate Secret Service. Although mundane and difficult to follow at times, the author shows that funds for this activity were approved by President Jefferson Davis and were specifically employed for covert activities. Tidwell then describes the different organizations which practiced clandestine operations and the duties of each. Particularly important was the Confederate espionage organization operating out of Washington, known as the Greenhow Organization. Although Rose Greenhow was imprisoned in 1861, the spy ring in Washington continued to function efficiently, providing valuable information to the Confederate government and the Army of Northern Virginia through the end of the war.
One of the primary focuses of Confederate clandestine operations was naval warfare. The direction of Confederate naval strategy was heatedly debated during the first year of the war. While Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory believed the emphasis should be on the construction of ironclads, Matthew Fontaine Maury, known as "the Pathfinder of the Seas," sought to form a Confederate naval force consisting of large numbers of smaller gunboats. Though Mallory's plan was adopted, Maury gained further respect for his work on underwater explosives.
Perhaps the most influential man in the Confederacy concerning naval operations was Bernard Sage, whose innovative approach to irregular warfare at sea has never before been thoroughly explored. Sage's concept of a volunteer navy was never fully implemented, but his idea of conducting irregular warfare on land utilizing "bands of destructionists" became the primary focus of Confederate Secret Service activities during 1864 and 1865.
The book's longest chapter explores the Confederate Secret Service operation in Canada. Initiated to stir the growth of a peace movement in the North, this operation expanded to include paramilitary raids, efforts to free Confederate prisoners, and other clandestine activities. Tidwell believes their most ambitious effort was the plan to capture Lincoln, and their most successful, engineered by the mysterious George Sanders, "was to divest the Confederacy of any apparent responsibility for his assassination." (107)
Tidwell contends that Booth and his associates were assigned the task of capturing Lincoln in March 1865. When this operation failed, Confederate agent Thomas Harney was dispatched under the command of Colonel John Mosby to blow up the White House. Harney was captured, but Tidwell asserts that Booth, unaware that Lee's surrender nullified the purpose of the mission, believed he could approximate its effect by attacking the leaders of the federal government. Tidwell believes that Booth "was acting to accomplish what he thought the Confederacy wanted accomplished."(196)
Tidwell has done exhaustive research for this work, which relies heavily on primary sources. The book includes numerous endnotes, appendices, a bibliography, and a thorough index. The author has done a masterful job of presenting his thesis, but the evidence, although convincing, is not concrete. Much of his argument is based on speculation and conjecture and cannot be proven. There is not, and will probably never be, conclusive evidence that the Confederate Secret Service directed the assassination. It will be left to the reader to decide the validity of Tidwell's theory.
Although the author is unable to prove his thesis, he nonetheless has explored this possibility as fully as documents will allow. April '65 is an intriguing and provocative study which will prove particularly beneficial to scholars of the Confederacy. A well-written, thoroughly researched work which documents the existence and purpose of the Confederate Secret Service, it will also be of inerest to Civil War historians in general.
Joe Geiger, Jr.
One of the few unanswered questions about the American Civil War concerns the number of West Virginians who fought for the Confederacy and the number who joined Union forces. With Tattered Uniforms and Bright Bayonets, Jack Dickinson has come as close to the correct number, at least for the Confederates, as we probably will ever get.
This is not a history of West Virginia's Confederate soldiers or the units in which they served. Instead, it is a roster of those soldiers who resided or were born in the counties of present-day West Virginia and served in Confederate units of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dickinson set out to establish "two major goals for this work." The first was to "prove that the West Virginia Confederate contribution was closer to twenty thousand men than the generally accepted seven thousand." The second goal was to "provide a reliable source or aid to future researchers into West Virginia Civil War history, or to a family genealogist searching for his Confederate ancestor."(2) Dickinson has achieved these goals.
West Virginia's contribution to the Confederate army vis Ö vis the Union army has been a point of contention among historians since the beginning of this century. In 1909, the Third Biennial Report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West Virginia was published. In this document, Virgil Lewis states that the number of West Virginia Confederate soldiers was approximately seven thousand, yet he does not say how he arrived at this figure. (This book was reprinted in 1967 as The Soldiery of West Virginia.) In 1963, Boyd Stutler's West Virginia in the Civil War was published. Stutler claimed that between eight and ten thousand Confederate soldiers were from West Virginia. A year after the release of Stutler's book, Richard Orr Curry's A House Divided: A Study of Statehood Politics and the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia was published. Curry estimated West Virginia's contribution of Civil War soldiers came to fifteen thousand for the Confederate army and twenty-five thousand for the Union. Finally, in 1989, James Carter Linger produced the splendid monograph Confederate Military Units of West Virginia. Although the subject of his book is primarily concerned with the number of Confederate units from West Virginia and their geographical origins, Linger did estimate that over twenty-two thousand West Virginians served the Confederacy.
During the last century, various historians have estimated the number of West Virginians serving in Union forces from a low of twenty thousand soldiers to an absurdly high forty thousand. Although we probably will have to wait for such projects as Shepherd College's "Civil War Soldiers Personnel Database" to compile all of West Virginia's Union soldiers before a more definite number is determined for the Northern side, Dickinson's work provides the most reliable figure for the Confederacy. Using the National Archives's "Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Military Organizations from the State of Virginia," the "Veterans' Grave Registrations" in the West Virginia State Archives, as well as county rosters and rosters published in the H. E. Howard Virginia Regimental History Series, Dickinson has determined that approximately 18,000 West Virginians served in Confederate forces. Of this total, 15,760 are listed in the alphabetical roster, which also notes rank, unit, and county of residence, that comprises over three-fourths of the book. An additional 475 soldiers are listed in an appendix rather than the alphabetized listing because the sources used to determine their nativity did not give their units or rank. To this subtotal of 16,235, Dickinson added "all the men found in the Veteran's Grave Registrations or rosters that had ahigh probability of being from a West Virginia county," which came to 765 and gives an "intermediate approximate total" of 17,000.(409) Finally, Dickinson adds another 1,000 men to compensate "for all the men who are lost forever from rosters, grave registrations, county histories or any other known sources. . . . Therefore, a more accurate estimate of the total would be something approaching 18,000 men."(409)
Although this reviewer disagrees with the somewhat unscientific rationale for the addition of the extra one thousand soldiers, Dickinson's work is the most painstaking, and consequently the most accurate study yet undertaken. His writing style is a bit awkward at times, but those of us who refer to this book will not be using it to learn about the organization of Confederate military units or the founding of the state of West Virginia. Instead, we will be consulting Dickinson's study precisely for one of the reasons that he wrote it, as a source for genealogists or researchers into West Virginia Civil War history.
Jack Dickinson has provided us with a valuable research tool while answering a longstanding historical question at the same time. For these reasons alone, Tattered Flags and Bright Bayonets should be considered one of the most important studies ever published about West Virginia's role in the Civil War.
Mark A. Snell
Those of us who are constantly looking for facts about people and places from the Civil War era have a standard set of reference books. Sometimes our sets of books are defined by geographical area or specialized interest. Regardless of the area of research, some books have become standard works in all our libraries. One of these is Generals in Gray by Ezra Warner. This book on general officers of the Confederacy, published in 1959 by Louisiana State University Press, is recognized as one of the sources on Confederate officers. Readers and researchers will find the familiar names of the Confederate generals from present-day West Virginia: John McCausland, John Echols, Albert Gallatin Jenkins, etc. This same publisher has now produced a companion volume entitled More Generals in Gray by Bruce S. Allardice.
The men in More Generals in Gray are perhaps better referred to as ex officio or "lost" generals. Many are included because their status as a general officer was implied or referenced unofficially. Allardice, in his introduction, does a thorough job of outlining his rules for inclusion. He then presents a biographical sketch and a short bibliography for each of the 137 men. Allardice's extensive use of sources is most impressive, the bibliography being one of the most extensive in recent publication. He footnotes each biography, making it much easier to find the source of his information and identifies his "main sources" for each sketch, pinpointing the authority for more information.
In Allardice's discussion of his rules for inclusion is a thorough discussion of Confederate General E. Kirby Smith and his appointment of several officers to the rank of general. Smith was not only commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department but was admittedly empowered with civil authority. This resulted when his department was virtually cut off from the Confederate capital after the fall of Vicksburg in 1863. President Jefferson Davis recognized this division and granted Smith civil executive powers, said to be the same as the powers of the secretary of war. Although Davis never formally extended this authority to include appointing and nominating general officers, Allardice says that the central government ". . . looked the other way," therefore "ratifying by inaction." The strong evidence to support Allardice's inclusion of generals appointed by Kirby Smith is that these officers had a general's rank, pay, title, were paroled as generals, and were considered by their contemporaries as generals.
Probably the best-known person covered in thi book is Raphael Semmes, the naval hero of the Confederacy. While on water Semmes carried the official title of rear admiral. After the fall of Richmond, he commanded land forces and Allardice argues that his rank as admiral was legally equivalent to brigadier general, qualifying Semmes for inclusion.
Other "lost generals" like Colton Greene of South Carolina, later of Missouri, commanded a brigade. Petitions evidently exist which show his nomination for generalship. Colton Greene has also been the recent subject of a major article in a leading Civil War magazine titled "General Colton Greene." The article includes a photo, credited to the Library of Congress, which shows Greene with the three-star uniform trim of a Confederate general officer. It should be noted, however, that many officers of the ranks of colonel or lieutenant colonel commanded brigades during battle but were never formally promoted to the rank of general.
Officers, such as Christopher Haynes Mott of Mississippi, attained the rank of general in their state's army or militia, and therefore met one of Allardice's qualifications for inclusion. Allardice's argument is that Mott and others in this category achieved the same rank in the Confederate army.
Perhaps one of the best arguments for an "implied" generalship is the case of Edwin Waller Price of Missouri. Price was captured in February 1862 and later exchanged for Union Brigadier General Benjamin Prentiss. Serious students of the Civil War will find when exchanges were formally taking place between the two sides, officers were exchanged specifically for someone of equal rank.
Whether a serious student of the Confederacy will agree with all of the included generals, all will agree that More Generals in Gray is an extremely valuable source of information on many of the less well-documented Confederate officers. It makes a great companion volume to Generals in Gray and qualifies for a place of honor in any Civil War library.
Jack L. Dickinson
The American Civil War brought men together in bloody sustained conflict. What motivated these men, especially soldiers of the South, to endure death and privation unprecedented in our history, often appears to defy logic. Numerous works have been published that ascribe to the Confederate soldier a wide variety of motivations, including slavery, socioeconomic conditions, modernization, and class structure. In Lee's Young Artillerist, Peter S. Carmichael skillfully weaves together the papers of young William Pegram and his contemporaries, allowing us to see how religion motivated Pegram and many others like him. This thesis has been the basis for other works, though none have been as convincing as this.
William Pegram, born in 1841, was a Virginia slaveholder and Episcopalian. During the 1850s, his religion and education instilled in him the idea that slavery was God's will. Pegram believed that Republican attempts to alter Southern society were contrary to God's preordained world in which men and women were assigned specific stations in life.
In 1858, Pegram joined a prestigious military company in Richmond and, in 1859, he witnessed the execution of John Brown. In the fall of 1860, then nineteen-year-old Pegram entered the University of Virginia where he heard one of his law professors deliver fiery speeches on the South's right to secede. With Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860, his position against the expansion of slavery was fodder for heated debate at the University of Virginia and across the South. Referring to the political situation Pegram wrote, "we have disunion, and the greatest of all evils, a civil war, staring us in the face." He added, "this is not a mere Jno. Brown raid."
In May 1861, Pegram joined the Purcell Artillery and was elected second lieutenant. His belief that God would see the South through this trial manifested itself quickly in the ardor and unquestioning devoion with which Pegram approached his duty. Pegram's positive attitude and earnest desire to be in the thickest fighting would not wane even in the last desperate months of the Confederacy.
The Pegram family was embarrassed early in the conflict, however, when William's older brother John was forced to surrender with his 553 men at Camp Garnett in what is now West Virginia. John Pegram was imprisoned at Fortress Monroe where William wrote him in February 1862 about his chances for a quick return by exchange: "I pray God that it may be very soon, that you may again be enabled to take up arms in defence of our beloved country, against this ungodly, fanatical depraved Yankee race."
In March 1862, William Pegram was promoted to captain and took command of his battery of six guns and 150 men. Engaged in fierce fighting at Mechanicsville that June, Pegram's belief that God would protect him was evident in his calmness during the battle. Out of ninety-two men engaged, his battery lost forty-two wounded, three dead, and four of his cannon were silenced.
Pegram's desire to be always at the front lines of a fight brought him recognition and promotion. It also nearly decimated his command on several occasions, including the battle of Malvern Hill where his battery was depleted to the point that only enough men were left to operate one cannon, and they fought gallantly, almost in suicidal fashion. From Manassas to Cold Harbor, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, William Pegram's command earned a reputation as the best artillerymen in the Army of Northern Virginia. At Gettysburg, William lost forty-seven men killed or wounded and expended thirty-eight hundred rounds over the course of three days.
In July 1864, with General Grant's siege of Petersburg, Virginia, underway and Confederate defeats demoralizing soldier and civilian alike, Pegram did not waver in his devotion to duty. He wrote his mother that he did not want "to convey the idea that I am dissatisfied with restraint of being in the army. I voluntarily sought it, and am willing to suffer it all my life, for the cause in which we are engaged."
On January 19, 1865, Pegram's brother John was married and a few days later lay dead on the battlefield of Hatcher's Run. William Pegram exposed himself recklessly to enemy fire one last time at the battle of Five Forks, Virginia, on April 1, 1865. He was mortally wounded and died the next day at the age of twenty-three.
Lee's Young Artillerist is well written, thoroughly researched, and enlivened with a host of quality maps and photographs. Its thesis is convincingly presented and the story it tells should be of interest to all students of the Civil War.
On August 27, 1862, Daniel M. Holt, a forty-three-year-old surgeon from Newport, New York, accepted the position of assistant surgeon in the 121st Regiment New York Infantry. In 1867, Holt compiled his wartime letters and diaries as a keepsake for his children, and in 1930, Holt's daughter donated the writings to the Herkimer County Historical Society of New York. It is these papers that form the basis of A Surgeon's Civil War.
The 121st New York Infantry participated in some of the most arduous, bloody campaigns of the war and the misery these men endured is related in compelling fashion by Daniel Holt. A very literate man and talented writer, Holt draws us into his suffering. We cannot help but have a measure of empathy for the plight of Americans dead and dying at Antietam, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, and Cold Harbor.
Just two weeks after leaving home, Holt came face to face with the reality of war at Turner's Gap during the Antietam campaign. He wrote of the carnage: "I have seen what I never once expected I should see--a battlefield where brother met brother. . . . Oh! the terible sight
. . . a rebel with his brains blown out, arms extended . . . others in all manner of positions
. . . protruding bowels, glassy eyes, open mouths, ejecting blood and gases. . . ."
Like many of his contemporaries, Holt believed the South was a depraved society fighting for a wicked cause unsupported by a righteous God. He wrote that the war was a "wicked uprising of infuriated men." He kept this opinion throughout his service although shared misery allowed Holt at times to feel sorry for his adversary. In November 1862, he informed his wife that he felt the government should "employ their natural allies, the Negroes, to fight their own battles. . . ." Holt was not alone in that opinion and the idea gained popularity as the war progressed and black regiments were put into the field where they rendered effective service.
Captured after some fierce fighting at Salem Church, Virginia, on May 4, 1863, Holt found an unlikely friend in General Robert E. Lee: "Four times did this great man call and feelingly inquire if the men were receiving all the care that could be bestowed. . . . Their army, he remarked, was not supplied as ours. . . ." After ten days in captivity, the good doctor was released when Lee discovered that Holt was a fellow Mason.
As the conflict dragged on, desertion became an increasingly serious problem for North and South. Extreme measures were sometimes necessary to combat that issue and this was the case on August 15, 1863, when Holt witnessed his first military execution. It left a painful, lasting impression: "the coffin taken out . . . he sits upon it, . . . eight bullets pierce the heart and the spirit goes to meet its God. All is over. . . . It is a sad sight."
In May 1864, Daniel Holt began keeping a diary and we are fortunate for the fact. Unencumbered with sentimental prose and family business, the diaries are more informative and concise than his letters and in many ways form the best part of this work. Holt's lucid and moving description of the battle of Spotsylvania and its aftermath is excellent. That anyone could endure such hell is truly amazing.
Hard service and exposure to the elements began to take its toll on Holt's health in 1864, and by fall of that year it was failing. His resignation accepted, he arrived home on October 21, 1864. On October 15, 1868, Daniel Holt succumbed at the age of forty-seven to the effects of tuberculosis contracted in the army. He was buried in the family plot in the Protestant cemetery in Newport, New York.
In this reinterpretation of the New Deal, Colin Gordon offers a view which he admits is an eclectic borrowing from several contradictory explanations. Seeking clear contrast to the organizational thesis of scholars like Kenneth Boulding, Louis Galambos, or Ellis Hawley, Gordon suggests that his view might be characterized as the "disorganizational" thesis. Because private efforts to escape disorder failed in the 1920s, Gordon argues, business supported and shaped New Deal reforms in the 1930s.
After an opening chapter entitled "Rethinking the New Deal," three chapters of the book analyze the pre-New Deal years 1920-33. A chapter each is devoted to three key New Deal measures: the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), the Wagner Act, and the Social Security Act. A final chapter summarizes the thesis and seeks to explain why, if the New Deal was just a reshuffling of the old deck, businessmen by the late 1930s opposed government policies they had earlier advocated.
Try as they might, Gordon maintains, business organizations during the 1920s could fashion no real unity. The essentially competitive nature of the economy, fragmented national politics, and the nature of the federal system frustrated business's thirst for order. Experiments with trade associations, welfare capitalism, and various labor-manageent accords called "the new unionism" met only sporadic and isolated success. The onset of the Great Depression brought about the complete collapse of the largely unsuccessful private efforts and raised the question whether the organizational experiments would continue or be rebuilt around federal laws and institutions. Competition, political realities, and concerns about social unrest pushed both business and the New Deal toward enacting private patterns of business organization, welfare policy, and labor relations into federal law.
The NIRA, enacted in 1933, attracted substantial business support and reflected associational efforts of the 1920s, but complaints grew as the agency stumbled badly in trying to carry out its contradictory mission. When the Schecter case brought the National Recovery Administration to a close, Gordon maintains, leaders in most of the code industries lamented the demise of the codes and called for continued government regulation. Some industrial leaders shed no tears for the demise of the NIRA but wished to keep its labor provisions, seeing the stabilization of labor costs as a practical benefit. In effect, Gordon concludes, the NIRA convinced many industries that order "depended upon the disciplinary presence of either the federal, state or industrial unionism."
Gordon also argues that the reforms of the "second New Deal" in 1935 and afterward resulted not simply from an emboldened labor movement and enlightened political leadership but from business's long-term efforts and strategy. The Wagner Labor Relations Act, the Social Security Act, and other aspects of federal labor law "grew directly from the search for competitive order and [after 1929] recovery." Many industrial leaders believed that federal labor laws could bring industrial peace, stabilize labor costs, and boost levels of aggregate consumption.
What does Gordon make of the bitter business opposition to the New Deal that we are accustomed to reading and hearing about? If indeed New Deal policies were "business friendly measures in progressive clothing" why did not all businessmen become New Deal Democrats? The reason, according to Gordon, is that the business-inspired policies consistently failed. Businessmen came to resent what they saw as the intrusiveness and the rise in labor costs of the labor policies they had supported and encouraged. Rising labor costs also incurred resentment because of increasing international competition. Although the New Deal responded to business demands and needs, the author concludes, "business came to resent its many contradictions, failures, concessions, and unforeseen consequences."
Gordon's account is well researched and carefully argued. Clearly written for historians and scholars, general readers and most undergraduates will find the book difficult because of its highly interpretative approach. His characterization of the early New Deal as basically conservative and business driven is nothing new. Even pro-Roosevelt historians conceded that business had a strong influence on the early New Deal. To suggest that the reforms of the second New Deal were also primarily driven by business interests is more novel and less persuasive. Gordon is careful not to claim too much. His most useful contribution, indeed, is that he avoids simplistic stereotypes and recognizes the complexity of business responses to New Deal policies. On the whole, readers will find Gordon's perspective on business, labor, and the New Deal fresh and stimulating, if not always convincing.
Jerry B. Thomas
It is rare that a single book would contain a chapter on workplace conflict and a chapter on Hank Williams, Marilyn Monroe, and Chester Himes. What is even more striking is that Rainbow at Midnight succeeds at drawing fascinating connections between the workplace and popular culture. In the critical decade following the end of World War II, the working-class vision of the future was systematcally altered. In politics and in the factory, industrial capitalists won the struggle over the shape of American society. Only in the realm of popular culture could the working class successfully express its discontent with the emerging individualism and consumerism that came to dominate the United States.
Originally published in 1982 under the title Class and Culture in Cold War America, this new and substantially revised edition establishes Lipsitz as one of America's most insightful cultural historians. One of the most important additions to the new edition is his opening chapter on country music star Hank Williams, actress Marilyn Monroe, and novelist Chester Himes. Lipsitz analyzes their lives and their widespread appeal in terms of their working-class origins. As ex-factory workers during World War II, all three experienced and captured in their art much of the mix of anxiety and hope that characterized a newly forming working class which included blacks, women, and rural whites. In intriguing ways, these escapees from factory work raised issues involving class, race, and gender that resonated for a more assertive working class.
In contrast to many labor historians, Lipsitz identifies the war, not the rise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, as the critical transforming force for industrial workers. Indeed, it was the war that opened up opportunities for blacks, women, and rural-born whites to enter high-paying factory work. The anti-racist and democratic rhetoric of the war effort, tight labor markets, cost-plus defense contracts, and notions of "equality of sacrifice" also empowered workers. When corporate war profiteers implemented programs designed to achieve stability and predictability, they only added credence to the emerging working-class beliefs that they were entering a new era. When corporations, government, and unions joined together for steady production, rank-and-file workers aggressively asserted their own agenda of direct democracy and the right to dignity. By the end of the war, workers had experimented with mass demonstrations and wildcat strikes that gave them a public political presence frightening to business, government, and their own union leaders.
The growing tension between workers and the institutions seeking peaceful and cooperative labor relations exploded in 1945-46. Demonstrating surprising militancy and solidarity, workers rallied community support to confront openly corporations and the union leaders who counseled caution. Lipsitz interprets the much vilified Taft-Hartley Act in that context. He claims the true intent of the act was not to break the power of tyrannical union leaders but rather to give bureaucratic unions and monopolistic corporations the means to contain labor strife and discipline a rebellious rank and file. What big business and big labor could not achieve through Taft-Hartley was supplied by government in the form of an anti-communist crusade. These were the flip sides of a program linking American economic prosperity to an expansionist foreign policy and domestic corporate liberalism. Big unions and big business gained at the expense of the democratic dreams of the working class.
Although on the losing end in politics and at the workplace, workers refashioned popular culture to reflect their disillusion with the post-war settlement. Through such avenues as car customization, roller derby, and rock and roll, the working class put its stamp on American society. Of course, this cultural vitality was no substitute for the dominance of corporate liberalism in the country's political and economic life. But workers did demonstrate resistance to the commercialization and suburbanization of the mainstream culture.
Implicit in Lipsitz's analysis is that the United States could have been a more decent and democratic place if only the rank and file had triumphed over the institutional confines of big government, big business, and big labor. While acknowledging how much workers, minorities, and women advanced in the 1940s, he laments that unions and alternative political groups did little to mobilize around ideas concerning shop-floor democracy, production for human needs, and a "society that respects people morethan money."(37) Instead, leaders "of these groups fought to maintain their own institutional positions and in the process collaborated with the sexism and racism" that divided workers. But surely, Lipsitz's own accounts of wartime hate strikes, race riots, and working-class sexism make it clear that simply turning over institutions to the rank and file would have unlikely eliminated those divisions. Still it is true that the possibilities for a more humane and egalitarian society were probably never greater than in the 1940s. Lipsitz has elegantly demonstrated just how far we have devolved from the hopeful visions of that era.
Institute for Labor Studies
West Virginia University
Author Alan Draper wants to "put to rest myths that labor was indifferent to the struggle for black equality when, in fact, that issue formed the cornerstone of its political strategy."(16) Conflict of Interests is about the political action of the American labor movement in the South and its response to the growing civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. While these two social movements frequently experienced the same forces of opposition, they garnered "different priorities, timetables, and cultures."(6) The specific event under examination is the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision and the reactions it provoked from southern organized labor. Draper succeeds in his cause to prove that dealing with racism was a primary factor in southern labor's organizing efforts with convincing analyses, case studies, and thorough research of telling primary sources. The predominant archival sources used are the records of the state councils of the AFL-CIO which document how the councils responded to the civil rights movement. The focus of this study is on Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and to a lesser extent, Texas.
The leaders of AFL-CIO state councils were far more liberal than their rank-and-file constituents. Maintaining Jim Crow was paramount to the common, white worker. State leaders recognized that those who organized massive resistance to the Brown decision in 1954 were the same group of individuals who supported restrictive, anti-labor legislation. State councils feared that supporting segregation was merely a cloak that hid a larger agenda to divide workers racially and dismantle their unions. State leaders grappled among themselves to devise a response supportive of desegregation without alienating the white majority union members who supported massive resistance and sought to defend a "separate but equal" society to the bitter end. Draper characterizes this situation, writing "they [labor unions] were accountable to a rank and file that believed in white supremacy and they feared that support for civil rights would threaten their organizations by driving away current and prospective
members." (39) Thus, labor organizers cast the issue as one of defending free, public schools from conservative forces that would rather close them, instead of allowing judges to enforce the Brown decision. This was a "middle of the road," cautious approach to the issue, which illustrates how racial issues did, in fact, form the cornerstone of the unions' political strategy in the South.
Alan Draper's message for scholars is that they cannot consider the history of laborers and their organizations in the South without considering the bi-racial order that permeated every aspect of southern life. He is alarmed by its absence in so many studies coming from the "new southern labor history," recognizing that there are problems with new southern labor historians treating labor studies in the South as if this region was the same as other regions in the country. Draper corrects this error by compiling a wealth of evidence to prove that labor organizers were very cncerned with racial issues due to the region's unique Jim Crow culture, narrow electorate and one-party politics, legacy of the slave mode of production, and religious fundamentalism. According to the author, "the new southern labor history may dismiss this constraint [racism], but union leaders ignored it at their peril."(12-13).
Draper criticizes the new southern labor history's conclusions about labor organizers in the region. This school of thought frequently faults unions for not playing to their strength, black workers, but rather to their weakness, namely white workers. These historians, according to Draper, blame union organizers for ignoring black workers and discriminating against them. Surely they engaged in racist practices, yet Draper claims this conclusion simply does not acknowledge the great difficulty union organizers faced in white workers' absolutely unyielding defense of segregation. Time and time again, Draper provides cases where union locals publicly differed with state council pronouncements on desegregation. One way for locals to demonstrate defiance was to disaffiliate from the state organization. This reaction had a heavy impact on the state councils which were financed by rank-and-file union dues. When locals disaffiliated, some states lost as much as 20 to 30 percent of their operating funds. State leaders simply could not go on sacrificing membership and funds by making statements that clearly were not supported by the majority of their constituents. The reality was they had no choice but to try and appease their white constituents. The fact that the unions made any pro-civil rights overtures at all is a testament to their desire to reduce the effects of racial discrimination. Alan Draper's book must be reckoned with by twentieth-century southern labor historians writing today.
Tyler O. Walters
Iowa State University
It is always a delight to find a professionally trained archaeologist who knows how to write. In Historic Contact, Robert Grumet not only shows his writing skills but also demonstrates his command over data from mainstream historical, ethnohistorical, and archaeological sources. The result is a much-needed review and summary of historical accounts and archaeological findings from early Indian-European interaction in the northeastern United States. Historians without archaeological training should find this book of great value, as it is relatively free from esoteric jargon and the archaeological information presented is placed in historic context. In turn, historical archaeologists will find the summaries of significance as well, as regional overviews of this scope and detail are rare.
The northeast as defined by Grumet begins with Virginia and West Virginia and extends north and east to Maine, thus including both the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions. Grumet divides this area into three sub-areas: North Atlantic, Middle Atlantic, and Trans-Appalachian. Each of these areas is then subdivided by historically known tribal areas and/or major river valleys. Persons looking for convenient discussions of "the Indians of State X" may be disappointed, as geographic areas tend to follow ethnographic and archaeological distributions, not modern state boundaries. For example, historic West Virginia Indian sites are discussed in at least three separate geographic subdivisions.
Grumet is to be commended for doing more than merely summarizing; he also interprets and debates current ideas and points out areas where archaeological and historical data have led to different conclusions. The Delaware people receive particular attention and historical reinterpretation, as might be expected from Grumet's previous publications on Delaware history. The book resulted from research for a National Park Service National Historic Landmark theme study. This initial study involved several feeral agencies, state historic preservation offices, and various academic and professional preservation groups. As a result an extremely wide array of basic data has been summarized and synthesized into a true interdisciplinary account of the cultural dynamics on the northeastern American frontier. So thorough is the treatment of the area that the dust jacket's claim that this title is an instant "basic reference" actually seems justified.
The University of Oklahoma Press has done its customary excellent job in layout and design. The bibliography is important to access a still largely unindexed archaeological literature. This publication is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in Native American and American colonial history.
West Virginia University Libraries
This edited volume arose from a group of papers presented in 1991 at the twenty-fourth annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, held in Richmond, Virginia. A day-long symposium was sponsored to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the American Civil War, and the resulting publication is the first major compilation of research devoted purely to sites of this period. For historical archaeologists, this book represents an excellent cross section of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Traditional historians and lay readers will also find value and enjoyment in sampling a discipline which places a new twist on approaches to the documentary record as well as to the study of material culture.
The range of topics found among twelve separate selections are as broad as the geographic areas contained in each. From Bleeding Kansas to the bottom of the James River of Virginia, this book is an interesting mixture of places and events relevant to the study of the Civil War. Battlefields, fortifications, civilian sites, technological espionage, shipwrecks, campsites, and memorials are woven together into an orderly and substantive contribution to Civil War studies. It is unfortunate that it took a special event such as the sesquicentennial to produce this valuable look at historical archaeology's contribution to understanding an event which had such a tremendous cultural impact on our nation.
The study of the Civil War has long been the domain of historians and has only recently come into the realm of archaeology. As one of the contributing authors notes, it is estimated that current secondary sources and analyses of the war number between eighty and one hundred thousand, with more than one hundred significant publications added each year. This voluminous history of the conflict is balanced against a minuscule amount of available source material from the discipline of historical archaeology. For example, as one author notes, Tennessee was the site of approximately fifteen hundred campaigns, battles, and skirmishes. All of these sites are potentially of archaeological value, but only seven have ever been discussed in the archaeological literature.
This group of essays represents a broad cross section of theoretical viewpoints, methodologies, and site types which combine in a creative and interesting format. Containing twelve articles by selected authors, as well as commentary and introductions by the editors, the publication is arranged into sections based on subject matter and has several main thrusts. First, it is written for an audience much broader than the archaeological community and contains examples of how historical archaeology can contribute to a richer understanding of the Civil War. As many of the authors note, the conflict is best viewed as a clash between two cultural systems, each operating under different norms and values and
with variations in the means by which these are expressed. Military sites represent one opportunity for exploring these cultural differences because they are often composed of known regimental units who operated within a closed cultural system in comparison to the more open civilian populatios. These military sites therefore provide a unique opportunity to compare Southern culture to Northern culture during the war.
For example, many of the sites, regiments, and historic places mentioned in this publication involve people and events relevant to West Virginia history. Two such sites are the Union Cheat Summit Fort and the Confederate Camp Allegheny located in Randolph and Pocahontas counties, respectively. Both sites were constructed in the summer of 1861 and served to fortify the Valley of Virginia until their eventual abandonment in April 1862. These two sites, one composed predominantly from the Fourteenth Indiana Infantry and the other from the Twelfth Georgia Regiment, were habitation sites where soldiers lived and worked and which contain domestic military deposits of value to archaeological analyses and comparisons. Likewise, these forts were located in a harsh, high-elevation climate where both sides suffered the rigors of engagement and basic survival during the severe winter of 1861-62.
Archaeological sites like Cheat Summit Fort and Camp Allegheny are valuable for their histories related to Robert E. Lee's valley campaign and their potential for a greater understanding of Northern and Southern cultural differences. Careful excavation when combined with thorough documentary research can uncover new information on the Civil War not available in existing literature.
A second underlying theme in this publication is the need for archaeologists and historians to recognize a wider range of cultural resources in addition to the more obvious military sites. While several articles in this book specifically address the information potential of forts and battlefields (including several interesting articles on Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County), many indicate the need for a more intense investigation of social, political, and environmental variables within the broader civilian population during the war. One model suggested advocates an expansion of research on agricultural sites from a broad cross section of social classes involved with agricultural production. While this has received some attention from those archaeologists who study changes in southern plantation lifestyles, little research has been conducted on pre-war and post-war agricultural life in the Midwest and North. In a similar vein, the impact of the war on civilian access to material culture, food resources, and wealth must be given as much or more attention than forts and battlefields most commonly associated with the Civil War.
One practical problem historical archaeologists face is the difficulty in extracting useful information from sites utilized for a brief period of time, such as battlefields. Even fortifications and civilian sites which contain many material objects present difficulties to research. The separation of a discrete collection of Civil War artifacts from masses of artifacts on the same site but pre- or postdating the war is often not possible. Many sites contain a jumble of artifacts and a host of changes to the landscape which result from land uses at other times. One very significant contribution of this book is the demonstration of new research designs and methodological techniques which can be used to overcome many of the previously noted research difficulties. One contributor has devised a clever methodology for tracing troop movements on battlefields using an inexpensive technique which could be easily replicated at other sites. New approaches to battlefield interpretation, the analysis of shipwrecks as symbols of an underlying war of technology, and new means for viewing cultural differences through dietary reconstructions are all examples of successful research techniques discussed in this book. While of specific interest to archaeologists, these new approaches may be equally useful to historians searching for some creative new approaches to the documentary record.
A much more subtle, but no less significant focus lies in demonstrating the value of an integrated anthropological and historical approach to the Civil War. Historical archaeologists have long suffered from an identity crisis, having one foot in the documentary record and the other in a square hole in the ground. As a relativey new discipline, formally established in the 1960s, historical archaeology and its practitioners have faced some degree of both suspicion if not outright distrust from both parent fields of anthropology and history. Anthropologists and specifically archaeologists with training in prehistory have criticized some historical archaeologists for being too particular and focusing on individual sites and events rather than on cultural patterns. On the other hand, historians sometimes criticize historical archaeologists for placing too great an emphasis on material culture at the expense of the documentary record.
This book is significant in that it represents the theoretical byproduct of a more mature discipline of historical archaeology, which has successfully broken down the artificial academic barrier between the two diverse fields. The goals, research designs, and methodologies presented in this publication are predominantly based on a scientific method derived from anthropology. At the same time, complex historiography and careful use of the documentary record are an integral part of each article. This melding of anthropology and history produces something which one author labels as a "Culture History" of the Civil War. Cultural materialism, network theory, structuralism, and other anthropological orientations are implied rather than overtly expressed in this book, although all encourage a movement of historical archaeology beyond social history and into a theoretical realm where cultural understandings are the goal. While the actual demonstration of a culture history approach is not as convincing as it could be, the articulation of the approach in combination with methodological demonstrations will send a message to historical archaeologists that the study of Civil War archaeology has come of age.
At first glimpse, this book is a compilation of seemingly unrelated papers given at a typical conference. While some individual articles certainly shine above others for their depth of insight, the editors of this volume, Clarence R. Geier, Jr. and Susan E. Winter, have to be given great credit for welding a diversity of places, orientations, and methodologies into a cohesive whole. Careful combinations of articles, thoughtful commentary, and a logical flow to the material make this book an outstanding contribution to the archaeology of the Civil War.
Charles A. Hulse
The study of industrial artifacts began in the United Kingdom in the 1960s when it became apparent that many significant historical sites were about to be destroyed without being adequately recorded. The British historian, R. A. Buchanan, defined industrial archaeology as "a field of study concerned with investigating, surveying, recording, and, in some cases, preserving industrial monuments." By industrial monuments he meant the artifacts of industry and transportation systems. The emphasis in both the United Kingdom and the United States has been on the period beginning with the Industrial Revolution. Emory L. Kemp further defined industrial archaeology in Public History: An Introduction by describing it as a new discipline which provides primary information for historians and essential material for sites where preservation is contemplated.
The British work in industrial archaeology was certainly a factor which led Kemp and others to form the Society for Industrial Archaeology in the United States in 1969. The interest in this work gradually increased but many years passed before for educational institutions included it in their curricula. In 1982, Kemp founded such a program at West Virginia University, one of the first in this country.
The success of industrial archaeology has depended on the diversity of those who have made up the interdisciplinary field teams and this is the basis for the success of the Institute for the History of Technology and Industrial Archaeology at WVU. The major emphasis of Kemp's teaching programs as contained in Industrial Archaeology: Techniques, which has been used as a text in institute classes and field projects, is on the techniques used to elicit evidence from the artifact. These techniques include historical records, case studies, quadrangular maps and Universal Transverse Mercator references, architectural photogrammetry, remote sensing technology, field work and measured drawings, large- format photography, land surveying methods, the integration of geographic information systems, and traditional and non-destructive testing methods. In the introductory chapter entitled "The Dioscuri: Industrial Archaeology and the History of Technology," Kemp sets the stage for the rationale of the subject in the thoughtful and incisive manner.
Industrial Archaeology: Techniques is the first publication of its kind in the United States. In some respects it is reminiscent of R. A. Buchanan's Handbook of Industrial Archaeology and Kenneth Hudson's Industrial Archaeologist's Guide published in the late 1960s in the United Kingdom and similar in approach to Robert L. Schulyer's Historical Archaeology published in the United States in 1978, all stepping stones in the study of our collective industrial heritage. The present work has the advantage of time in that it presents the latest in field techniques, some of which were not available or fully developed when these works were published. Industrial Archaeology: Techniques is a major addition to the literature available to the teacher and practitioner of industrial archaeology.
Thomas F. Hahn
West Virginia University
This is a truly remarkable book by a truly remarkable author about himself. Thomas Mellon, patriarch of the Mellon clan, wrote this book in 1885, at the time he turned his business affairs over to his sons, twenty-three years before his death. The book was to be a private memoir distributed to family and friends. He might well disapprove of finding this second edition on the shelves of a book seller today.
It is fortunate that a century later his family disregarded his wishes, for the book provides an extraordinary glimpse of an individual who personified American enterprise during the nineteenth century. In one sense, his story is simple. He immigrated from Ireland and began life in the United States at a place most appropriately named Poverty Point, Pennsylvania. As a youth, he found in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography the blueprint for his own life. He dashed ten miles to stop his father from purchasing a farm for him, thereby setting himself free from agriculture to apply his considerable talents and ambitions to other pursuits.
While remembered today for his exploits in banking, these do not appear to be for what he most wished to be remembered. The emphasis of his book concerns his career as a lawyer and a judge. The latter profession he abandoned because it interfered with his business pursuits. The business historian is likely to be disappointed because this thick volume contains relatively little insight as to how Mellon's business dealings were successfully concluded. He was a cautious but shrewd investor who ". . . never speculated in property of any kind without I saw a sure thing in it." His bank, though new, survived the Panic of 1873 while most others failed. The reader is left wondering how this feat was accomplished.
Thomas Mellon was not an entrepreneur as the term is defined today. He left us no great inventions or innovations. As was noted in the "Afterword" of the book, it was land that Thomas Mellon understood, and it was from the land that he made his fortune. "A product of the pre-industrial world, he did not have the capitalist vision that would make his sons famous."
Within the covers of this book are shared his pithy observations on a variety of subjects. In fact, the chronicle of his life is often nothing more than a coa rack on which he drapes his opinions on a wide-ranging variety of subjects. Mellon's thoughts on the poor, blacks, Mormons, Indians, and even Methodists would not pass today's test of political correctness. He embraced the doctrines of Herbert Spencer and saw poverty as a character fault. Although he considered his marriage to be the "luckiest" event in his life, he found courtship to be inefficient and unduly time consuming.
One of the later chapters, entitled "Changes of a Lifetime," if given to a group of readers today, would appear contemporary. He found the cost of living to have risen in excess of what the increase in quality of goods should permit. Government extravagance, excessive taxation, and printing of money are the principal causes. But he equally condemned the "artificial wants" of the people which caused them to abandon the simple life of their ancestors and to eschew economy in their lifestyles.
Throughout the book, Mellon has little good to say about education. Although a college graduate and school teacher himself, he did not send his sons to college and commented that, except for Latin and Greek, he received little of practical benefit from his schooling. He marveled at the inventions of his lifetime. While seeing them as having raised productivity and contributing to the rising standard of living, he worried about their impact on laborers. The increase in crime both shocked and amazed him, and he saw it as resulting from immigration which turned the nation ". . . into an asylum for the spendthrifts, desperadoes and criminal classes of the old world." He had nothing but disgust for politicians whom he felt were the prime corruptors of the commonwealth. He rejected socialism and most social reforms as perpetuating the problems of the idle classes.
While reared in the "spirit of puritanism," his work contains a particularly lucid discussion of the conflict between religion and science. Although raised on the Bible and the Westminster Catechism, he rejected strict predestination as inconsistent with the nature of God. Religious institutions he saw as losing both vitality and relevancy. But more than anything else, he deplored the decline in public morality. It is surprising to find his cause for this decline in the very prosperity which he enjoyed and helped to create. To him, history determined that the rising prosperity of a nation is ultimately linked to its moral decline.
Thomas Mellon was remarkably well read and his autobiography is extremely well written. When compared to the ghost-written and self-serving treatises produced by today's business elite, the book stands as the mark these miss. Except for some overly long descriptions of his travels, the book moves quickly and some of its descriptions are extremely vivid and compelling. An outstanding preface and afterword complement the work.
Mellon's philosophy of life was simple. Hard work and morality were virtues. Money was not of prime importance, but the satisfaction of achievement was. He shunned most worldly pleasures and the ostentatious living which characterized many of his contemporaries. His greatest joy was his family and its success. The family he founded was destined to become one of the most wealthy and influential, not only in Pittsburgh, but in the entire United States. He would have approved. This reviewer was left with the feeling that the world would not only be more prosperous, but better if there were more men like Thomas Mellon in our own time.
Calvin A. Kent
Chief Justice John Marshall accurately viewed his native state's struggle and resistance to the supremacy of the national judiciary under the United States Constitution as essentially the continuation of the heated controversy engendered by Virginia's 1788 convention where the new national frame of government was ratified. This slim, but intellectually weighty volume will disabuse any reader f the tendency simply to cast the early republic's judicial development within the nationalizing framework of Marshall's court by ignoring state and local issues. State legal accommodation or resistance to the new Supreme Court of the United States outside of New England and the Middle Atlantic states has long remained unexplored. Miller's survey of over forty-five hundred Virginia civil suits, his interpretation of key appellate court opinions, and his rendition of legislative debates fill a void and enrich comprehension of how state and national law evolved. For those interested in the germ theory of states' rights and secession, this work suggests that the emotional intermingling of concern about protection of slavery was a post-1819 phenomenon. This volume concentrates upon Virginia's resistance to a national law as supreme law of the land enforced by the Supreme Court. On the state level, what emerges is a battle between the Old Republican luminaries led by Patrick Henry, Edmund Pendleton, and Spence Roane and New Republicans such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, and St. George Tucker.
The estrangement reached beyond 1788 to the controversies that arose at the beginning of the American Revolution. The Old Republicans saw the New Republicans and the Federalists as attempting to re-establish by the nationalization of the law the equivalent of the British Court party in the states. The Old Republicans argued for a state common law based on local control and local juries composed of neighboring farmers who would become a shield against a tyrannical centralizing government and judges. Among other characteristics, their common law would be an unwritten law that protected rights of assembly, petition, and speech and did not distinguish between statutory law and written constitutions. Ratification and implementation of the United States Constitution jarred their revolutionary legal notions even though they secured concessions with the promise of additional amendments, with the acceptance that most government would be at the local and state level, and with the assumption that they could develop a doctrine of state sovereignty to weaken the new government. During the national battles between Jeffersonians and the nationalists such as Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and John Marshall, many Old Republicans became New Republicans and abandoned the former on the state level. The New Republicans or Reformers (the Jeffersonians on the national level) enlisted the Old Republicans in Virginia when they needed their political support and periodically co-opted their political vocabulary and programs, especially during the interposition of 1798.
Besides examining in detail the struggle over state legislation affecting courts and the accompanying judicial politics, the author freshly dissects two landmark Virginia cases that reached the Supreme Court and established national supremacy of the Constitution and national court decisions: Ware v. Hylton (1796) and Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816). The first case was representative of an enormous quantity of state cases that raised complicated questions involving payment of British debts incurred before the American Revolution, confiscation of British property, debtor payments to a state-created loan office, the non-payment of interest accruing after the Revolution, and the supremacy of the 1783 Treaty of Paris under the Constitution. The second case ended almost seventy-five years of litigation regarding Lord Fairfax's Northern Neck grant and raised intriguing federal questions that financially involved the chief justice. Analysis of both cases clearly reveals a maze of case history, state legislation, political resistance, and repeated conflicts with national court decisions.
The argument that Virginia's agrarian gentry, who dominated local juries and the county courts, slowed or retarded commercial and industrial development cannot be accepted. More statewide investigation must occur before thisconclusion can stand. Nothing in present research indicates that Virginians were less likely than anyone in other states to enter mercantile and manufacturing fields when opportunities, the key word, presented themselves. For example, in western Virginia's Kanawha County, the extractive or manufacturing economy preceded and occurred simultaneously with agricultural development. Manufacturers and merchants, who had agrarian connections, dominated the county court and local juries against all comers. The absence of legal restraint in a locally dominated court system allowed the Kanawha salt companies to enter the western economic mainstream and to pioneer nationally novel legal arrangements to combine and control their enterprise.
The complex interpretive nuances of this volume and the sheer range of statutory and judicial ground covered by the author foreclose a comprehensive summary in a brief review. Anybody seeking to understand or write about antebellum Virginia, early national state/federal judicial conflict, and Old South jurisprudence will find this book a fundamental work. Although the volume addresses highly legal questions and maneuvering, its presentation is succinct and cogent. It represents interpretative and insightful legal and constitutional history at its most fascinating level.
John E. Stealey, III
These four volumes span three critical periods in the life of George Washington: his final three months as a civilian before being chosen in 1775 to command the Continental army; his initial test of combat during the War of Independence, when British and Hessian forces landed in New York; and the twenty months after 1785, when he combined his planter-commercial pursuits with politics and contemplated attending the Constitutional Convention.
Three of these volumes find Washington at home at Mount Vernon, first in 1774-75, then again a decade later. Both Mount Vernon and its owner changed considerably during those ten years. Washington had commenced a massive remodeling project in 1774. Work on the mansion proceeded in his absence during the war years and was completed in 1786. When work began Washington was a Virginia planter who had gained notoriety within his province as commander of the Virginia regiment during the French and Indian War. By the time the final nail was driven, Washington was the most exalted American, the victor in the Revolutionary War, a man already lionized as the father of his country.
Despite the changes in his status, similarities exist to the pre-Revolutionary Washington. Much of his time in the 1780s, as in the 1770s, was consumed with his varied business enterprises. He was a tough, demanding businessman. For instance, in 1774, Washington bluntly told the manager of his property in western Pennsylvania that "as you are now receiving my Money, your time is not your own." He added that although he and his employee had been friends, he would not overlook any evidence of mismanagement. A decade later he fretted over the high wages of the workers employed by the Potomac River Company, of which he was president, instructed his agents to immediately banish from his lands any tenant who tried to cheat him, drove a hard bargain in negotiating the salary of his secretary--even demanding a man with "moderate political tenets"--and remained an indefatigable fighter for bounty lands that he believed he had gained through his provincial military service thirty years earlier.(Confederation Series, 3:33)
The striking political differences in the two decades forced ver different choices upon Washington. On the day he returned from the First Continental Congress in 1774, Washington, in a rare understatement, noted that "the times are ticklish."(Colonial Series, 175) He comported himself accordingly and hurried to put his business affairs in order before the almost certain outbreak of war. He anguished over what might happen to Mount Vernon if the war compelled him to be absent for long periods because he understood absentee planting inevitably plunged the farmer into debt.
The sense of urgency of 1774-75 is not present in Washington's correspondence following the war. Indeed, while he devoted considerable time to business and farming, he now employed agents and managers to perform much of the work he once had looked after. Washington enjoyed his retirement. He was "gliding down the stream of life," as he put it, and only wished that "my remaining Days may be undisturbed and tranquil."(Confederation Series, 3:50) He would not engage in disputes over his conduct during the War of Independence; impartial historians would have to judge him, he said. He likewise refused to be lured into the burgeoning debate with abolitionists over slavery.
Washington was deeply concerned with public affairs. He explained his activism in protesting British measures in 1774-75 as stemming from an "Innate Spirit of freedom." He thought the Tea and Coercive acts unconstitutional, "repugnant to every principle of natural justice," and a violation of "the Valuable Rights" of the provincials. He supported an American Bill of Rights, he said, for without it the colonists would become "as tame, & abject Slaves, as the Blacks we Rule over with such arbitrary Sway."(Colonial Series, 155) In 1774, he denied favoring American independence and doubted that war would occur. But when he learned of the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, he was ready to take up arms.
By 1785-86, Washington had retired and never expected to hold office again. However, his interest in public affairs had not waned. He watched closely as the crisis mounted over the terribly weak national government under the Articles of Confederation. The two volumes in the Confederation Series disclose the evolution of Washington's thinking in this period. He saw problems as early as 1785, but thought it premature to act; the "people must feel before they will see," he counseled.(Confederation Series, 3:88) Furthermore, he was confident that Great Britain's commercial policies toward the United States would eventually force a constitutional amendment expanding Congress's power to regulate trade. He hoped that would be the case, for otherwise he feared that the United States would be held in contempt by the great powers in Europe. If the Union was to survive, Washington told correspondents, both northern commercial and financial interests and the planter-dominated South must be willing to compromise.
In May 1786, Washington believed the federal government must be strengthened but insisted the people were not ready to consider constitutional revision. Shays's Rebellion altered his thinking and he called for the Articles of Confederation to be amended. By December, he acknowledged that the nation had been "too slow" in addressing the weaknesses of the national government and announced the proposed constitutional convention in Philadelphia was "very desirous."(Confederation Series, 4:481-82) Although Washington thought constitutional reform essential, he was uncertain whether to attend the Philadelphia convention, fearing damage to his reputation. Interested parties sought to convince him that he would not be stigmatized by attending the Philadelphia Convention.
The Union that Washington longed to save had emerged during the struggle against Great Britain, which is the subject of the final volume under review. This volume in the Revolutionary War Series spans the roughly seventy-five days from just prior to the British invasion of Long Island in August 1776 to when Washington and his chastened army were about to retreat from Manhattan Island. This was Washington's baptism of fir as commander of the Continental army. He had taken command a year earlier during the siege of Boston, but he had liberated that city in a bloodless campaign. He would face the fight of his life in the battle of New York, impossible to defend since his adversary possessed total naval superiority. But Washington had no choice because Congress expected its army to fight and save the city.
Washington remained optimistic despite his difficulties. He expected his unproven army to perform well. The officers and men were in high spirits, he reported, on the eve of battle. Washington nevertheless took time to instruct Lund Washington, his manager at Mount Vernon, regarding the autumn planting and other matters. The New York campaign was nearly catastrophic for the American cause. Washington, an amateur soldier, made numerous blunders. Most importantly, he divided his army in the face of a superior adversary, posting one-half of his force on Manhattan and the remainder on Long Island. The latter was overrun because Washington had failed to secure roads behind his army. The survivors were trapped in Brooklyn Heights until Washington extricated them in one of the most daring and lucky operations of the war. After failing to defend New York, Washington adopted the more cautious strategy of selecting the time and place to fight. He sought to erode the enemy's strength until the British ministry was forced to abandon this struggle.
This was a difficult time for Washington. The American Revolution was in great peril, his reputation threatened, and his very life at risk. In letter after letter he spoke of his fatigue, physical as well as mental, and confessed that his pride suffered. By the end of September, he no longer wrote Lund about affairs at Mount Vernon. By then, reaching the most melancholy moment he had yet confronted as commander, he feared his army, and perhaps even his officers, would not "stand by me."(Revolutionary War Series, 442)
These four volumes are rich in the details of Washington's activities at three junctures of his life between 1774 and 1787. While scholars will be most fascinated by these volumes, Washington was such an alluring man with such multifaceted interests that anyone with a love for early American history will discover much that is intriguing. The editorial comments and elucidations comprise almost as much space as the documents presented.
The editors of these volumes are to be commended. The Colonial Series, which commenced publication in 1983, is brought to a close with the appearance of this volume. No other project of a similar nature can likely claim to have issued ten volumes in such a short period. If the Confederation Series maintains its recent publication schedule, its final volume may be available by the time this review appears. While the volumes have been carefully indexed, the editors chose not to index the last volume of the Colonial Series separately. That volume concludes with an index for all the volumes in the series. A comprehensive index is necessary, but the absence of a separate index will impose a hardship on readers of volume ten. This criticism aside, these volumes constitute a magnificent addition to this worthy endeavor.
West Georgia College
West Virginia History Journal
West Virginia History Center