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book reviews355 land Historical Society, and the author of a biography of Chief Justice Taney, hopes that while we "can no longer recapture Webster's voice, or the excitement of his presence ... we can at least catch the words by which contemporaries knew him, and in so doing came closer to the realization of his charm." I believe that Mr. Lewis has given us the opportunity to recapture that charm in Webster's concern for his children, his farms and many details of everyday life in the first half of the nineteenth century. The book, however, does not present us with the key to Webster's greatness. In these autobiographical writings, we see little intellectual curiosity and few insights into the depths of the history in which he is participating. His nationalism seems to rest on a philosophy no more complex than his successful patriotic orations. To make Webster really come alive, we do need biographers who can reveal his psychological complexities in a way that he himself does not, and who can illuminate his successful embodiment of cultural values in a way that he does not. For surely the half century of his public life which ended with the confrontation of sectional crisis escalating toward the Civil War was more dramatic than Webster perceived. We need a biographer who can provide clues to why Webster, like so many of his generation, ignored for so long the disastrous cleavages in the national community. David W. Noble University of Minnesota "Gentlemen of Property and Standing": Antiabolitionist Mobs in Jacksonian America. By Leonard L. Richards. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Pp. ix, 196. $6.50.) Leonard Richards' penetrating little book, which links the old debate over abolitionism to the newer sociology of collective violence, invites review within the context of three bodies of literature. The first concerns the identity, motivation, and behavior of the white abolitionists. Especially since the publication of David Donald's assertion in Lincoln Reconsidered (1956) that it was the social dislocation of "an elite without a function, a displaced class in American society" that impelled the descendants of traditionalist northeastern families to attack slavery as an unconscious and indirect attack upon the new social order, historians —especially radical historians—have complained that such techniques of psychological analysis have tended to emasculate historic heroes of the left. But here Richards reverses Donald's verdict by demonstrating that it was the anfiabolitionists—Jacksonian America's "gentlemen of property and standing"—who represented the dying old order. Richards agrees with Gilbert Barnes that the Garrisonians were weak and ineffectual, but he locates the cutting edge of abolitionism less in Theodore Dwight Weld's evangelical Midwest than in Arthur Tappan's 356CIVIL WAR HISTORY New York, where the modern techniques of mass persuasion threatened , in the eyes of the reactionary antiabolitionist elite, "the breakdown of distinctions among white men, the blurring of social divisions, and the general leveling process that they saw enveloping ante-bellum Americas" (p. 166). Since Richards' primary focus is on the anfiabolitionists, his study reinforces the dark consensus of a second and relatively recent body of literature—that associated with the writings of Leon Litwack, Eugene Berwanger, Jacques Voegeli, and Eric Foner—that white public sentiment in the antebellum North was massively racist. His analysis of the rather sudden demise of antiabolitionist violence after the mid-1830s reflects in part the extraordinary and paradoxical degree to which the antislavery movement, when broadened by the free soil controversy, would attract many of the North's most rabid Negrophobes. The third and newest (and thinnest) body of literature to which Richards ' book contributes so substantially, and which most closely concerns this reviewer, bears on the history and sociology of collective violence. Briefly, Richards used the Niles Weekly Register from 1812 to 1849 to chart the peak of antiabolitionist violence in 1834-36. In chapter five he closely analyzes three "Bourbon" or "vigilante" types of mobs (Utica in 1835, Cincinnati in 1836, and Alton in 1837) and two "proletarian" types (New York in 1834 and Cincinnati in 1841), and concludes that unlike the predominantly lower class riots that George Rude examined in Europe, roughly three-fourths of the antiabolitionist mobs...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 355-356
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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