restricted access Lincoln as a Lawyer (review)
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338 CIVIL WAR HISTORY actually is true is sometimes less important than what people think is true. The task that Professor Taylor has set for himself in this book is to describe how one substantial part of this mythology sprang up and grew. This was the part that was "literary." In a series of judicious essays, he has analyzed the writings of William Wirt, James Fenimore Cooper, Sara Josepha Hale, George Tucker, John Pendleton Kennedy, William Alexander Caruthers, James Kirke Paulding, William Gilmore Simms, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Every one of these men and women was to some degree concerned with, and worried about, the direction that American national character seemed to be taking. How these writers set forth their anxieties, what the social problems were that gave them concern, what kinds of mentality and personality they had, and what sort of needs their "fictional sociology" satisfied—these are the questions that Professor Taylor seeks to answer. He has answered them interestingly, often with acute perception, and in a style characterized by clarity and felicity. His principal concern is with the South. By 1830, he says, numerous writers in both North and South had expressed strong reservations about the aggressive , mercenary civilization they saw developing in America. Northerners often expressed concern about the soulless, grasping world of business and the kind of life that it seemed to be producing. Some of these Northerners saw in the South the very qualities that the North lacked—stability, gentility, magnanimity , order, devotion to public service, respect for republican institutions. In the minds of such Northerners, "the legendary Southern planter, despite reservations of one kind or another, began to seem almost perfectly suited to fill the need. . . . More and more, he came to be looked upon as the characteristic expression of life in the South. Meanwhile, the acquisitive man, the man on the make, became inseparably associated with the North and especially with New England. In the end, the Yankee—for so he became known—was thought to be as much the product of the North as was the planter-Cavalier of the South" (p. 335). Meanwhile, Southern writers, confronted widi growing criticism of their section from the whole Western world, had to choose between accepting the values of the nation at large and (what was a desperate solution) inventing other ideals. In the generation before 1860 most of them chose the latter alternative. 'They finally could not believe in either their own regional ideals or those of the country as a whole. Belief in the one conflicted with belief in the other; the result was confusion, indecision, and a growing dispiritedness" (p. 336). This is a scholarly and useful book, abounding in independent insights. James Rabun Emory University Lincoln as a Lawyer. By John P. Frank. ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1961. Pp. x, 190. $4.75.) Coming so soon after the publication of John J. Duff's A. Lincoln, Prairie Lawyer and Willard L. King's biography of David Davis, another book about Book Reviews339 Lincoln the lawyer may seem superfluous. Yet this brief study by a practicing attorney and former law professor justifies itself from beginning to end. The author set himself the task of extracting the essential historical meaning from the details of Lincoln's legal career. His success, resulting from the play of a keen mind upon facts already known, constitutes one more eloquent reminder that original research and original scholarship are not synonymous. Lincoln as a Lawyer is concerned primarily with two questions: What kind of a lawyer was Abraham Lincoln? And how did his long experience at the bar affect his character as a public leader? Mr. Frankdevotes something more than half of his text to the first question. From his illununating analysis we learn that Lincoln made a"thoroughly comfortable living" at the law and by 1860 was well on the way to becoming "an extremely prominent and successful lawyer"; that he was almost entirely a "litigation man," having little office practice; that he excelled in jury trials but also had "the major appellate practice of his time and place"; that he was by preference a statutory rather than a common-law lawyer; that he was...


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