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

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 antiabolitionists, 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 were dominated by the local commercial and political elite. "Sometimes they represented the Establishment. More frequently they were the Establishment " (p. 130). Richards also concludes that Gustav Le Bon's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1896) has led sociologists mistakenly to assume that mobs generally lack organization, planning and structure. In chapter six a rough career line analysis of the members— not just the leaders—of selected conventional (Utica in 1835 and Cincinnati in 1836) and lower class (New York in 1834) mobs reinforces bis conclusion that "basically, then, the typical antiabolitionist mob should be regarded as an attempt by an aggrieved class to protect its social dominance and to reinforce its traditional values" (p. 150). Ultimately they failed, but Leonard Richards has succeeded very impressively . Hugh Davis Graham Johns Hopkins University The New York Police: Colonial Times to 1901. By James F. Richardson. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Pp. xii, 332. $8.50.) Like Roger Lane's earlier book, Policing the City: Boston 1822-1885 (Harvard University Press, 1967), Professor Richardson's book is mainly a study of the top police administration. Aside from one chapter with a BOOK REVIEWS357 clear and exciting description of the police response to the 1863 draft riots and another chapter on the police and the community, the book traces primarily the history of the police chief and police commissioners of New York City. Such a focus permits an interesting analysis of some aspects of policing in the nineteenth-century city. The book deals especially well with the expectations that various groups had concerning the police and the sorts of pressures that were brought to bear upon the top police officials. The book depicts, for instance, the many dissatisfactions that, during the early part of the century, led to the formation of a police department . It analyzes the ways in which the police chief and later the police commissioners were subjected to a variety of pressures—pressures from moral reformers insisting upon enforcement of liquor laws, pressures from various political factions in the city seeking partisan advantage from the police, and pressures from rural politicians resulting at one point in a state-controlled police department for the city. Such pressures , in turn, were reflected in the activities and factional fights among the police commissioners themselves as they attempted to make policy for the department that they were supposed to administer. The book handles these aspects of the police system quite well. But the extensive analysis of the activities of the police chief or police commissioners highlights how little the book deals with the patrolman on the beat and the ways that the police force shaped day to day life in...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 356-357
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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.