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the rights offree labor in its insatiable quest to expand slavery. It set the stage for "bleeding Kansas" in the mid-18 5os and was the catalyst for the formation ofthe Republican party. When the Republicans captured the presidency in 1 860 and pledged to keep slavery out ofthe territories, the southern disunionists launched their campaign for independence. More fully than any odier scholar, Morrison has shown "the animating effect of principles and ideology" in shaping the sectional attitudes that led up to the Civil War. But surely he goes too far when he claims that "inherited revolutionary values were axiomatic and controlling" (p. 8). Aside from an abhorrence of monarchy and aristocracy, there was nothinggiven about these values. Theywere highly protean and acquired specific meanings only in the shifting social contexts of antebellum America that Morrison too hastily sketches. Just how evangelicalism , gendered and racist readings ofliberty, liberal capitalism, and issues ofpolitical economy reconfigured these values is also touched upon too lightiy. As a result , Morrison's study is marred by an overly abstract quality that privileges ideas at the expense of the socially induced self-interests that alone made those ideas expressive ofindividual hopes and fears. Mothers of Invention Women of the Slaveholding South in die American Civil War By Drew Gilpin Faust University ofNorth Carolina Press, 1996 xvi, 326 pp. Cloth, $29.95 Reviewed by Elizabeth D. Leonard, assistant professor ofAmerican and American women's history at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Leonard is the author of Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War, and is currendy revising the manuscript for her second book, which explores the experiences and the motivations ofwomen soldiers, spies, resistance activists, and army women during The War between the States. Some years back I heard a conference talk in which Darlene Clark Hine pondered the focus of recent scholarship on the experience of non-whites and non-elites in American history. Although she heartily commended all efforts to bring the stories of traditionally subordinate groups to light, Hine caught many of her listeners off guard by pointing out that our understanding of culturally dominant Reviews 1 2 5 groups is also still far from complete. Moreover, she emphasized the ongoing need for historians to pursue knowledge of white elites in order to foster comprehension of how and for what purpose they have so persistendy oppressed those "others" whose history has lately been more in vogue. I found Hine's position compelling, perhaps because at the time I was working on a book of white middle-class women's history. But I also think that Hine's position in and ofitself has merit, and that Drew Gilpin Faust's Mothers ofInvention: Women ofthe Slaveholding South in theAmerican Civil Waris precisely the sort of richly illuminating study of white elites to which Hine referred. Drew Faust gave scholars a glimpse of the direction she would take in this newest book when she published her award-winning "Altars of Sacrifice: Confederate Women and the Narratives of War" in 1990 (Journal ofAmerican History 76 [i99o]:i2oo—1228). There she argued that Confederate women's gradual rejection of their nation's relendess and uncompensated demand for female sacrifice led to a withdrawal of their support from the Cause, which in turn contributed substantially to (and perhaps even guaranteed) the South's inability to win the war. In Mothers ofInvention Faust has gready expanded the scope of her inquiry. In the broadest sense, this work considers the war as a "moment oftruth" (p. xii) in which great devastation and numerous upheavals (both personal and political) worked to redefine slaveholding women's understanding of their individual and collective identities, as well as their place in a highly stratified and paternalistic culture now under siege. The exigencies ofwar, claims Faust, required slaveholding women to be the mothers of their own re-invention; at the same time, the Confederacy's demise imposed limits on women's passage into a distincdy new reality. Ultimately what Faust is trying to explain is southern women's decision to resist real change after Appomattox, to "fashion the new out of as much of the old as could survive in the altered postwar world" (p...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 125-128
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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