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BOOK REVIEWS275 repeated reliance on newspaper accounts when official sources are available , for example, and treaties are cited only in the summary form provided by Charles Royce's Indian Land Cessions in the United States, rather than from the full text given in Kappler's compilation or in the Statutes at Large. The bibliography lacks important items and the index is very poorly done. In short, this work, though useful, falls short of being a definitive one, and the high expectations instilled by the laudatory foreword by Arrell M. Gibson are not fulfilled. Francis Paul Prucha Marquette University The New York Abolitionists: A Case Study of Political Radicalism. By Gerald Sorin. (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Corporation , 1971. Pp. xiii, 172.) At first glance one would think (and perhaps hope) this book to be a behavioral analysis of the Abolitionists in New York, a pivotal state in the movement which contributed, as scholars know, such abolitionists as Gerrit Smith, James G. Birney, the brothers Lewis and Arthur Tappan, Frederick Douglass, and such lesser known black abolitionists as Charles B. Ray, Samuel E. Cornish, and Henry H. Garnet. Such menmoral giants, in many ways—and their movement would make an excellent history, as readers familiar with the late Gilbert H. Barnes' book, The Anti-Slavery Impulse, 1830-1844, would know. But Professor Sorin has not written such a book; nor has he, in this slender, revised doctoral dissertation, done much by way of behaviorial analysis. He has, rather, sought to "test" the "tension-reduction" theory (which holds that "nervous ," socially-displaced people join reform movements to reduce their inner tensions within the assuring confines of a group movement). After discovering through an elaborate but rather simple counting method who the "top" fifteen abolitionists were in the era of the Liberty Party, 1838-1845—the men named above, mostly—Professor Sorin argues that the theory does not, after all, apply to the New York abolitionists. The argument is made through fifteen gracelessly-written thumbnail biographies . The conclusion is that they were, for the most part, well educated, socially-secure men whose commitment to reform came from old-fashioned moral and religious feelings. Quite rightly, Professor Sorin urges readers to remember that psychological theories of behavior may hide malevolent or unwitting urges to "explain away" the moral meaning of social protest. That insight and Professor Sorin's conclusion might be the starting place for a big book on abolitionism in New York. Bruce Clayton Allegheny College Black Freedom: The Nonviolent Abolitionists from 1830 Through the Civil War. By Carleton Mabee. (New York and London: The Macmillan Company, 1971. Pp. 435. $9.95.) American abolitionists, like radicals in other times and places, encoun- 276civil war history tered both inertia and intense opposition. Frustration was perhaps thenchief emotion. They found it especially galling diat there seemed no way to reach the institution they sought to overturn; they were helpless to change the attitudes toward race that they judged die chief obstacle in the way of emancipation. How did they meet so tantalizing a situation ? What action did they take to attempt to advance their cause besides writing innumerable pamphlets, books, and newspapers, holding meetings, delivering speeches? That is, did they advance beyond tirelessly condemning slavery and declaring their own commitment? Did they actually do anything in a practical way to oppose slavery and racial prejudice? The answer to these questions is the subject of Carleton Mabee's book. Those who ask questions of the past generally find the answers they seek. For that reason history does not deserve the charge of irrelevancy its detractors so contemptuously hurl against it. On the contrary, as this book shows, it can be employed to support any cause at all and any tactic. It can teach anydn'ng. Mr. Mabee confesses that he had a presentisi purpose in undertaking his study. As a participant in the recent civil-rights movement, he sought to learn whether—and with what success—abolitionists used the same nonviolent techniques that were employed by civil-rights workers. Of course he discovered that they too were freedom riders, sit-inners, boycotters. Thus it follows that knowledge of the history of the antislavery movement contributes to an...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 275-277
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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