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BOOK REVIEWS263 explicit judgments can tell us much about the slaveholder's mentality. Lastly, Genovese's admiration for Fitzhugh's paternalistic commitment to slave welfare conveniently ignores the Virginian's writings in favor of reopening the African slave trade. It should be noted that Fitzhugh had condemned the trade as inhuman as late as 1856, only to reverse himself the following year. The moral, social, and economic questions raised by the slave trade issue would seem to have important ramifications for Genovese's understanding of a planter class world view, but it is not mentioned once. George Fitzhugh once expressed his preference for a literary style "in which facts, and arguments, and rhetoric, and wit, and sarcasm, succeed each other with rapid iteration." If Fitzhugh would have been disappointed at Genovese's penetration into his thought, he at least would have enjoyed the historian's prose. As for Genovese's colleagues, they will by turns be excited and exasperated, and will suspend judgment until that next book which substantiates all that has been asserted. Robert H. Abzug University of California Berkeley Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War. By Eric Foner. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Pp. xii, 353. $8.50.) Based on prodigious research, Eric Foner's superb new book is more than a study of the early Republican party's ideology. He explains better than anyone has previously the mentality of the North in the 1850"S and thus makes a major contribution to our understanding of the coming of the Civil War. His analysis of the reasons for and the strength of northern animosity toward the South makes very logical the South's decision to secede once the Republicans captured the presidency in 1860. One can only suggest here the richness and subtleties of Republican ideology which Foner reconstructs so perceptively. He traces how radicals , Democrats, and Whigs entered the Republican party, outlines the contributions of each group to Republican thinking, and delineates with precision the ideological differences among the groups. He is particularly good on the Democrats who brought a bitter antisouthernism to Republican thinking and the radicals who stressed the moral issue and who viewed Republican success not as an end but as a means to destroy slavery by divorcing the federal government from any support of it and by building an antislavery Republican party in the South. Because moderates leaned toward the radical position in the 1850's, antislavery was central to Republicanism, but that sentiment, he correctly insists, was broader than moral outrage, racist hostility to the spread of Negroes, 264CIVIL WAR HISTORY jealousy of southern political power, or any other single theme which other historians have found at the core of Republicanism. It was all these and more. "An attack not simply on the institution of slavery, but upon southern society itself, was ... at the heart of the Republican mentality." The Republicans' perception of American society was based on two ideas—free labor and the Slave Power—which together had more impact on the northern public "than an appeal to morality alone could ever have. . . ." Republicans favored a society that recognized the dignity of the laborer and made possible his social mobility out of the dependent wage-earner status to one of economic self-sufficiency. They firmly believed that the North contained such a society but that equal access to opportunity for mobility depended on continued economic growth and the unobstructed expansion of that society westward. Republicans viewed southern society based on slavery as the antithesis of everything they valued. It was a fixed, aristocratic and hierarchical society that degraded the laborer, both slave and free, precluded social mobility, and stunted the economic growth of the region. The South particularly threatened northern society because an aggressive Slave Power controlled its politics, blocked majority rule in the nation, and, most importantly , was determined to use the federal government to extend slavery westward and thus prevent the spread of the North's free labor system. It was this threat to "the most fundamental values and interests of the free states" that gave the territorial issue its potency in the North. Each section of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 263-265
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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