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306 Shorter Book Reviews Democratsto extend the franchise and by abolitionists to oppose the institution of slavery. At times, Norton uses secondary sources in an effort to corroborate oneofher generalizations. She cites Philip Greven's The Protestant Temperament, for example, to bolster her contention that antebellum Southerners were more indulgent and affectionate parents than Northemers were. There are severalthings wrong here. First, Greven's study should not be used to substantiate assertions about antfbellum child-rearing practices, since it deals exclusively withthe Colonial period. Norton also fails to recognize that Greven' s book challenges, rather than supports, her interpretation of sectional differences in child-rearing. Greven offers numerous examples of Northem as well as Southern parentswho were affectionate and indulgent with their children. He also suggests thatthisstyle of parenting characterized the New England and Middle colonies, ratherthanthe South.1 As my numerous criticisms suggest, Alternative Americas is a seriously-flawed study. Simplification of complex issues and failure to substantiate majorarguments and define key terms limit the usefulness of this book. Note Myra C. Glenn Elmira College New York 1 Philip Greven, The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America (NewYork: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977), p. 265 Ruth Bordin. Frances Willard: A Biography. Chapel Hill: The Universityof North Carolina Press, 1986. xv + 294 pp. Illus. Ruth Bordin's study of Frances Willard is the first full-length biography ofthe once celebrated nineteenth-century temperance reformer and feminist to appear since Mary Earhart's in 1944. True to the author's intentions, this is a more sympathetic and more carefully-researched biography than Earhart's. Bordin came to the topic through her Woman and Temperance: The Questfor Power and Liberty (1981), a book about the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which Willard led during its halcyon years from 1879 to her deathin 1898. Bordin makes heavy useĀ·of recently-rediscovered journals and diariesthat enlargeour picture of Willard's early development, and they are also said to throw light onWillard's last and momentous decade, when her attention shiftedfromthe national to the international scene. The portrait that emerges from these sources and the others that Bordin had ShorterBook Reviews 307 alreadyused for her research on the WCTU is consistent with the thesis of the earlierbook. Willard, the astute and charismatic reformer, led the WCTU out of thenarrowwilderness of temperance into the broad stream of social reform, and madethe WCTU the prime representative of articulate middle-class American womanhood in the late-Victorian era. She achieved this basically feminist purposebyclothingher efforts in the language and tactics of evangelical domesticity. Nonetheless,such a far-sighted woman was bound to push further than the rankand -filewished, and discontent erupted in the 1890s, only to be silenced in the oriefcausedby her death. This story is told in an economical, if at times too 0 somber,toneand with compassion; Willard emerges as a still-underestimated and extraordinarily important figure, not only on the American scene, but also within theAnglo-Americanreform community she inhabited in the 1890s. Despitethese considerable achievements, this book has flaws which, ironically ,flowin some measure from such an empathetic approach. Since the major new sources are Willard's or those of her friends, it is not surprising that temperance and feminism are seen through the eyes of Willard and her entourage. To say that Willard understood and successfully manipulated the nineteenth century(240) is surely not meant to be taken literally, but just as surely the questionsofclass and other power relations remain: whosenineteenth century did thiswoman, who saw herself as a disinterested philanthropist, understand and represent?In the absence of an adequate social history of the WCTU, Willard's relationship with her constituency and fellow-leaders is stillproblematic, though a truerpicturewould doubtless be more complex than Bordin's conceptualizationof anenlightenedfeminist leader pulling along a narrower-minded rank-and-file. Loversof biography will enjoy this work and its eminently fair judgments, but thereis still room for other, and perhaps more penetrating, explanations of the relationship between the personal and the political in Willard's life. In particular, the psychological dynamics of Willard's vivid span are missing. What drove Willardon in this account was the interplay of her...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 306-308
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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