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326CIVIL WAR HISTORY white men in the North (e.g., p. 316). There is no doubt that the abolitionists portrayed tiiemselves in this light; and Nye has provided a magnificent analysis of their propaganda on this subject. But the question that Nye's subtitle implies he is going to answer is quite as open now as it was before. References to non-abolitionist sources are disturbingly infrequent, and those few references concern such highly dramatic, abnormal events that they do not convince one they adequately represent "Northern opinion." For example, we are told that after Elijah Lovejoy's murder, "abolitionism and freedom of the press merged into a single cause" (p. 150), and a number of (presumably) ordinary Northern newspapers and a few abolitionists are cited as so testifying. One cannot help wondering how Soudiern newspapers reacted to that shocking incident. And in a later chapter, when Nye tells us that "the responsibility of newspapers in encouraging mobs in the North [against the abolitionists] was great" (p. 198), and still later, that nineteen Massachusetts newspapers opposed the state personal liberty law passed in the 1850's (p. 276), one begins to suspect that perhaps the question of civil liberties was much more complicated than Nye and the abolitionists made it appear. The example of the newspapers might even persuade the more cynical that those who were for "civil liberties" in general, as opposed to some particular civil liberty primarily of interest to tiiemselves, were quite as rare in the mid-nineteeth century as they are now. Perhaps concern with abolitionism was a great deal more limited than historians of the movement would have it; Nye at least has given us no reason for thinking otherwise. In short, he has improved his already excellent study of the ideology of abolitionism, but the question of die extent of Northern agreement with this ideology remains in need of its historian. George H. Daniels Northwestern University Abel Parked Upshur: Conservative Virginian, 1790-1844. By Claude H. Hall. (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1964. Pp. v, 271. $5.50. ) The author has here demonstrated that at least one minor nineteenthcentury politician deserves a biography. Abel Parker Upshur was a lawyer, plantation owner, and defender of the status quo without peer in tidewater Virginia during the two decades following the War of 1812. Serving as a judge for fifteen years, he spoke widely, wrote numerous articles and a book on states rights. The sudden succession of his lifelong friend, John Tyler, to the presidency changed Upshur's life. Tyler appointed him Secretary of the Navy in 1841 when the entire former cabinet, except for Webster, resigned. Upshur proved to be a good administrator who was not hesitant about reorganizing the operation of the navy—for the first time since 1815. He also believed in experimentation, and his support of steam, iron ships, and the Paixhan gun marked him well in advance of American naval thinking BOOK REVIEWS327 of the era. At the pinnacle of his public career, he was appointed Secretary of State and worked out plans for the annexation of Texas to be implemented in the spring of 1844. On February 28, 1844, Upshur, together with Tyler and other government and naval dignitaries, boarded the U.S.S. Princeton for an inspection and party. The sloop carried new and unusually heavy armament which was fired repeatedly to celebrate the occasion. Late in the day a twelve-inch gun, called die "Peacemaker," exploded. Upshur, Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Gilmer, three naval officers, two sadors, and a servant of the President, all standing nearby, were killed instantly. Upshur died, die author concludes, at the very moment "when his latent talents had at least the challenge necessary for their full development." The biographer has presented the man in the perspective of his time and has not tried either to overemphasize his national importance or to gloss over his reactionary position with respect to Virginia affairs. The book is wellresearched , clearly written, and produced with helpful illustrations and maps. It will be a useful tool for a long time to come. W. Patrick Strauss Michigan State University The Confederate Constitutions. By Charles Robert Lee, Jr. (Chapel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 326-327
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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