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112Southern Cultures absorbed any political philosophy from his father or even had anything beyond the most tenuous contact with him. During Reconstruction Kenneth Rayner modified his views on education for African Americans and probably did something to help John obtain a few years of schooling at St. Augustine's Normal and Collegiate Institute. From that point forward , however, the two men never saw each other and certainly had no political discussions . Although Cantrell sees interesting parallels "between Whiggery, Know-Nothingism, and Populism," there is no evidence that John B. Rayner shared his father's political values or was consciously following in his father's footsteps. Superficially, the pattern ofJohn's life minored Kenneth's. After a few years in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, where he taught school, engaged in local politics, and sold liquor, John Rayner moved to Texas in about 1880. In 1887 he became a strategist for the prohibitionist forces and helped them court the black vote. At this time he said that his opposition to liquor sprang from "deep religious principle." In the 1890s he became a major figure in the state's Populist party, speaking often and effectively to black farmers and sagely advising white Populists on what mattered most to their potential black supporters . Yet after the defeat of Populism, John Rayner reversed himself on a number of issues, endorsing the disfranchising poll tax, criticizing ignorant voters, and opposing prohibition . As a fundraiser for two different Negro schools, he ingratiated himself to a number of wealthy white racists. None of his ventures were particularly successful, however, and he died in straitened financial circumstances in 1918. Although John Rayner's career was erratic, it seems unlikely that a Revolutionaryera worldview or principles of any sort guided it. His actions and correspondence suggest that he was an opportunist, ambitious for recognition from and influence among more powerful individuals. Many times he proved to be a perceptive political observer and effective speaker, but his zigzag path seems devoid of consistency or a political philosophy. After racists gained full control of Texas politics, the painful dilemmas facing all black activists may have aggravated John Rayner's tendency to contradict himself. Both Rayners had unusual political careers, and in a meaningful sense both were dissenters. Although a carefully researched and clearly written study of the political careers of two unusual southerners, this book sheds little new light on the limits of southern dissent . In Kenneth Rayner's case, it amply demonstrates that dissent did occur, perhaps more frequently than our image of the defensive, slaveholding South suggests. In John B. Rayner's career, we are reminded of the potentials and limits of Populism and of the discouraging realities that faced black leaders after its defeat. Unfortunately, we learn nothing of how Rayner's shifting positions may have been viewed by other Texas blacks. The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900. By Nina Silber. University of North Carolina Press, 1993. 257 pp. Cloth, $34.95. Reviewed by James L. Peacock, Kenan Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Born in the capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery, Alabama, he has finally rejoined the Union by becomingpresident ofthe American Anthropological Association. "The South is feminine," a northern Jungian psychologist remarked to me recently, endowing her statement with the authority of a discipline that defines archetypes. What Silber's Reviews113 chronicle would inform her, and many of us, is that this sort of categorization is the product of decades of cultural construction fueled by the media. The Romance ofReunion reveals how images that many of us take for granted were constructed in response to psychologies, sociologies, and economies following the Civil War. When Jeff Davis was captured near Irwinville, Georgia, northern cartoons depicted him trying to run away in his wife's skirts as federal troops—powerful, masculine —restrained him. This cartoon illustrates a process of regional definition that Silber argues proceeded in three stages. Before the South's defeat, a popular image of the ideal male was that of the courageous, daring Cavalier. This the South exemplified, and northerners often felt themselves lacking. After defeat and with the rise of industrialization , values changed. The manager...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 112-114
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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