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350CIVIL WAR HISTORY circles; and that Calhoun opposed the Mexican War and most of the expansionist ventures. I would suggest that this book, like Glen W. Price's recent Origins of the War with Mexico, betrays the revulsion of morally sensitive historians against the unprincipled exercise of American power in Polk's day and our own. It is not surprising that these historians, like other decent men, should find comfort in believing the worst about Polk and his latter-day counterparts . But this kind of simplistic view will not help Americans understand the real roots of the enormities of which we are capable. Only if historians remain true to the first principles of their craft, resisting the easiest and most comfortable answers as they read the full complexity of human motives and actions from the tangled record, shall we at last understand how ordinarily decent men—how the most of us—can initiate, tolerate, and bear ultimate responsibility for our national indecencies. Charles Sellers University of California The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era. By Richard P. McCorrnick. (Chapel HiU: University of North Carolina Press, 1966. Pp. viii, 389. $7.50. ) This study is a deceptively simple account, state by state, of the formation of a two-party system during the years between 1824 and 1840. Jefferson 's party broke up in the factionalism that erupted in the presidential election of 1824. In some of the older states there already existed political divisions into which this new factionalism could fit, or from which adjusted alignments could be formed. In most of the newer states, however, it was presidential politics that took the lead in structuring each intrastate rivalry. By 1840 the nation's second two-party system was substantially complete, with each major party a going concern in almost every county of the country. The accounts of party formation in this study are based on no general notions or abstract theories; they are drawn from the grass-roots of historical sources and stand as steady as a structure with solid foundation should stand. Leadership, geographic patterns, voter turnout, nominating arrangements, party instrumentalities, and stages of development until persisting alignment had been established are all clearly and thoroughly set forth. State by state, with regional summaries and commentary, this invaluable handbook for students or researchers offers just what common sense and a grasp of reality asks for. All too seldom is this precise blueprinting found, even in extended studies of a single state, for the simple reason that the job is difficult beyond the limits of imagination of those who have not grappled in such fragmentary sources for such complete and definite answers. The arrangement of states in the analysis has been dictated by the BOOK REVIEWS351 author's findings and follows the lines laid down by the actual course of party formation. New England and the Middle Atlantic states (including Delaware and Maryland) form familiar groupings. The Old South incorporates the South Atlantic states from Virginia to Georgia (excluding South Carolina) and Kentucky and Tennessee. South Carolina is not covered because the absence of popular election of presidential electors, or of other statewide officeholders, leaves the historian without a party system. In a group designated as the New States, all of the remainder of those admitted to statehood in time to participate fully in the party formation under study are included. Professor McCormick has provided an indispensable tool for any who would study political parties in this period by any approach. Pitfalls abound for the unwary in seeking to generalize about institutions made up of as many discrete elements as the state parties of the United States. This work maps a wide array of such traps and offers guidance through the maze of differentials in time and space that seem to be inherent in this multistate arrangement for national parties. It is particularly fortunate for those who are experimenting with quantification tools for investigating party systems of this period that this exposition of the very human and unpredictable elements in the account has made its appearance. The promising assemblage of data bearing on United States political history that is mounting at the Inter-University Consortium for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 350-351
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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