In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS351 or since has history occupied such a vital place in the thinking of the American people as during the first half of the nineteenth century." (p. 25) He backs up his argument in part by comparing lists of best-sellers: "of the 248 best-selling books in the United States between 1800 to 1860, ninety of them, or 36 per cent, dealt with history. By comparison, about 15 per cent have been historical since 1860." (pp. 31-32) This is particularly interesting, if not paradoxical, in view of the conclusions reached by historians who have attempted to summarize the nature of pre-Civil War ideas. John Higham, John Thomas, and George Fredrickson , among others, have in various ways emphasized the optimism, perfectionism , feeling of boundlessness and overall orientation toward the future of the intellectuals and social thought generally. The fact that the first half of the nineteenth century saw an unusual popular preoccupation with the past, at the same time as it expressed a pervasive social concern with change in the future, is most suggestive for historians in the 1970's who are worried about their fate in a society undergoing reform and revolution. Perhaps the educated public L· capable of looking backward and forward simultaneously. Callcott's survey of the kinds of history written is extensive, and fills in the broad outlines we have come to expect. Of the general interest in history, in the schools, among the public, and by the leading historians, approximately one-third was focused upon American history, presumably less than today. Early United States history books were different in their subject matter from today's texts mainly because of the large amount of military history and the slight amount of social and intellectual history. (Political history comprises almost half of both the old and new American history texts.) Admittedly surprising to me was the somewhat similar apportionment of space to chronological periods in early world-history books and today's texts, and also the fact that the phrase "intellectual history" was current before the Civil War in the United States. In addition to a broad review of all types of historical activity in the early 1800s, Callcott provides intelligent and lucid summaries of the philosophical framework and the interpretive perspectives of the major historians. It is not a criticism of Callcott's efforts to write this larger intellectual history, but rather a reflection of the fact that David Levin and others have written at length on the historiography and philosophy of the great Romantic historians, to say that Callcott's study is valuable primarily because of its comprehensive scope. Robert Allen Skotheim University of Colorado James Watson Webb: A Biography. By James L. Crouthamel. (Middletown , Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1969. Pp. x, 262. $10.00.) James Watson Webb, who edited the New York Courier and Enquirer 352CIVIL WAR HISTORY from its founding in 1827 to its failure in 1861, was many things, none of them dull. He physically assaulted two rival editors, fought one duel, and nearly fought two others. He publicly labelled his opponents "recklessly unprincipled," "fifth rate," "moral pestilence," "disgusting obscenity ," and "Col. Whistle-breeches." Possessed of a self-esteem that knew few restraints, he judged others by their willingness to feed his ambition. Friends who disappointed him found his steadfast loyalty replaced by venomous hatred. Politicians who denied him patronage soon found him in their enemies' camp. It was small wonder, then, that his political associations changed rapidly. He began a Jacksonian Democrat , became a Whig, flirted with the Know-Nothings, and ended up a Republican. Webb's political principles were conservative. A proud, truculent flag-waver, he urged national expansion, opposed foreigners' ever acquiring the right to vote, and thought that many immigrants came to the United States only to subvert its institutions. Disapproving of slavery and believing blacks were inferior to whites, he supported the colonization movement. He thought the abolitionists were traitors. He opposed the expansion of slavery because geography and tradition had dictated that the new territories should be free. When the Lincoln administration named him ambassador to Brazil, he prepared for the assignment by carefully selecting 150 novels to pass the time. He treated...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 351-352
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.