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284civil war history In his two provocative volumes Dr. Steiner raises intriguing questions about historic events and how they might be deflected or affected on a commander's or his troops' "off day." Veterans of some of America 's more recent wars, who experienced a siege of dysentery, will remember with vivid displeasure just how much of an ordeal trying to function as a soldier proved to be at such a time. The remembrance should certainly encourage a greater admiration for the officers and soldiers of the Civü War who still managed to display enough intestinal fortitude to give a good accounting of themselves against both the seen and unseen enemy. Arnold Gates New York City The Black Scare: The Racist Response to Emancipation. By Forrest G. Wood. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1968. Pp. xi, 219. $6.00.) According to Forrest Wood, the Civil War, emancipation, and Reconstruction exacerbated American racism and provoked the "first white backlash," a crusade against the Negro. Although he states that most whites believed in Caucasian superiority, he is almost exclusively concerned with a small, highly vocal minority of " 'active' racists" who relentlessly applied the racial yardstick to every event and "openly pursued a policy of white supremacy" during the war and Reconstruction. Drawing mainly upon extensive research in anti-Negro literature, Democratic newspapers and campaign documents, Wood analyzes the nature of race prejudice; describes the response chiefly of northern and western "racist demagogues" to such issues as emancipation, the enlistment of black troops, miscegenation and Negro suffrage; and relates the opposition of northerners and southerners to Reconstruction and social equality. In so doing, he also takes pains to expose the inconsistencies and misconceptions of the Negrophobes; he counters their fallacies with modern historical, sociological, and scientific knowledge and concepts and confutes them at length on virtually every point. This book generally goes beyond other studies of this subject in its emphasis on the sexual psychology of racial antagonism, in its stress on the miscegenation controversy in the presidential election of 1864, and in its efforts to trace the race issue during Reconstruction. On the other hand, some of what it says could have been said better in a less emotional and contentious way. Unfortunately, dubious interpretations and errors of fact mar the work in places. For example, contrary to the author's assertion, Lincoln did attempt to follow through on his plan to colonize the freedmen in Latin America as the ül-fated expedition to Isle à Vache, among other things, demonstrates. The character of Democratic objections to the passage and ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 belies the statement that, after the election of 1864, "Racist demagoguery, on a national BOOK REVIEWS285 level, passed into a temporary eclipse and did not emerge again for almost two years." As these shortcomings indicate, this study often lacks the factual depth for its interpretations to be convincing, particularly when the author attempts the critical task of evaluating the political significance of the race issue. To a considerable extent this difficulty stems from the failure to go beneath the rhetoric of the " 'active' racists" to analyze the racial actions and pronouncements of both of the major parties, Congress , the Lincoln administration, and state politicians. There is little or no reference to the important elections of 1862 and 1863; Negro exclusion agitation in the Middle West, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; the wartime referendums of Negro suffrage; the debate over the creation of the Freedmen's Bureau and the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment; and the controversy over the drive to eliminate discriminatory legislation from state and federal law. Greater attention to the Republicans would have helped to gauge the political impact of anti-Negro thought and activity. Although Wood states tíiat many Republicans fell short of endorsing complete equality, he overlooks their initial opposition to the recruitment of black soldiers; their admissions that hostility toward the Negro influenced politics and policy; and their appeals to racial anxieties to win support for emancipation, Negro troops and Reconstruction—actions which only a sublime act of faith could attribute solely to expediency but which at any rate tell a great deal about the prevalence and power of racism. V...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 284-285
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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