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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 Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963. Pp. viii, 225. $6.00.) The short and unhappy life of the Confederate States of America included an important, but neglected, constitutional and political experiment. The Confederate Constitutions usefully traces the calling and organization of the Montgomery constitutional convention in 1861, its adoption of a provisional constitution, and, finally, its creation of a permanent body of fundamental law. The most original and valuable contribution of this work is its quantitative analysis of the convention's membership. Diligently gathering data from varied sources, Lee offers a state-by-state statistical picture of the delegates' ages, occupations, educations, political affiliations, public service experiences, slave holdings, and real and personal property standings. The composite view of the membership affords some insight into the nature of its task and of the documents diat resulted from its efforts. The delegates' average age was forty-seven years; the majority were planter-lawyers, 85 per cent of them college-trained; three-fifths of the delegates were Democrats, and the remainder Whigs; their collective experience covered federal and state executive and judicial service, and all but six had served in the U.S. Congress or their state legislatures; all delegates except one owned slaves; and, in general , these men had significant financial holdings. It was not a radical or innovating assemblage, as the moderate influence of the Whigs and "cooperationists " tempered the demands of the Rhett-Yancey radicals. Lee's interpretation of the Confederate Constitution, however, conflicts with his data. He finds it significant as die ultimate expression of nineteenth- 328CIVIL WAR HISTORY century state rights and state sovereignty concepts. But was it a fulfillment of state sovereignty ideology? Or did it illustrate that die South had used such doctrine merely as a rationalization for the protection of slavery and for its declining grip on national power? Lee follows a vulnerable path. As manifestations of state sovereignty he points to the preamble's "sovereign and independent" description of the states, the lack of a general welfare clause, the prohibition of a national protective tariff, and the refusal to give Confederate courts jurisdiction in diversity -of-citizenship cases. But he fails to balance these items with those which undermined state power or enhanced the national authority: for example, retention of the "necessary and proper" clause, the addition of the power to levy export duties, the item veto, and the change to ratifying constitutional amendments by two-thirds instead of three-fourths of the states. And after forty years of shabby constitutional legerdemain, the Confederate framers abandoned the state sovereignty theory of territories and placed them under national control with, of course, protection for slavery. Further, the right of secession was not specifically recognized. Finally, the framers, who borrowed heavily from the U.S. Constitution, significantly retained Article VI, Section 2—the national supremacy clause. While Lee completely overlooks this point, it is doubtful whether the Confederate "Founding Fathers" were so oblivious of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 327-328
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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