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BOOK REVIEWS179 sense, therefore, readers seem to be asked to munch on hegemonic cake while they sip on white-libertain wine. Regardless, the political narrative that constitutes approximately the last half of this book is fascinating and persuasive as it shows how a majority who opposed secession reluctantly embraced that course of action when they came to believe they had no alternative. Robert F. Durden Duke University An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865. By Randolph B. Campbell. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Pp. xii, 306. $35.00.) This volume is the first book-length history of slavery in Texas and an important addition to the state studies of slavery in the South. Campbell combines the approaches of Kenneth Stampp, Eugene Genovese, and John Blassingame by discussing the development and functioning of the institution, as well as the slave community in Texas. The author describes the emergence of slavery in the Anglo colonies of northern Mexico, despite government restrictions and ambivalence. Campbell finds slavery "an underlying cause" of the Texas Revolution, which could have resulted in abolition if it had failed. Texan victory instead firmly established the institution under the republic and state of Texas, as the number of slaves leaped from 5,000 in 1836 to over 180,000 in 1860—30 percent of the population. After exploring the Charles Ramsdell theory that slavery was approaching natural limits by 1860, Campbell judges such an impact "minimal for years to come." In analyzing the economic and legal aspects of slavery, the author suggests that Texas slaveholders profited from the labor of their bondsmen , sustained their cotton plantations and farms by also producing food, and achieved economic flexibility through the hiring and sale of slaves. Although state laws accepted slaves as both people and property, the legal system primarily protected the rights of owners while restricting bondsmen with a slave code. While most bondsmen labored as agricultural workers, including some who supervised other slaves or herded cattle, others served in homes or as craftsmen, some in the small but more attractive urban areas. Food, housing, and clothing were usually adequate but limited, with many unpleasant exceptions. Punishment, which fell on most slaves, ranged from light to harsh. Despite occasional fines of whites for cruelty, charges of murdering a slave seldom resulted in conviction. Campbell finds slaves sustained themselves through family life, despite a lack of legal status for marriage and the sale of family members, including children. Worship, often with black preachers, provided further 180erra WAR HISTORY support for Texas bondsmen. Songs served as means of communication and the expression of emotions. While the psychological burdens of slavery molded some slaves, others fought back or escaped, often to Mexico, and plotted at least two revolts. Faced with the risks of resistance, the larger number of slaves persevered with some hope for the future. Slaveholders, who formed 27 percent of the Texas population in 1860, dominated the economy and government, holding 73 percent of the property and 68 percent of the public offices. Wealth and power allowed paternalism, but also physical and sexual excesses by some masters. Emotional proslavery views, based on economics, racism, and religion, suppressed even mild alternative ideas in the antebellum period, and led to lynchings of supposed abolitionists and to secession in 1860-61. The author concludes that the Civil War brought military use of slave labor and owners from other states who moved their bondsmen to Texas away from the Union army, until slaves could celebrate emancipation in 1865. Campbell also finds no basis for judging slavery in Texas easier or harsher than in other states. A wide range of sources, from plantation papers, census materials, travel accounts, and newspapers, to slave narratives and especially county records, has been used by the author. His account is informed by recent historiograhy on slavery and employs statistical methods effectively in developing several topics. The narrative flows smoothly with well-chosen quotations to emphasize particular points. While some topics such as slave folk culture probably should receive more detailed study, An Empire for Slavery will become the standard history of slavery in Texas, and an excellent model for new studies of slavery...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 179-180
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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