- Slavery in the New World: A Reader in Comparative History, and: Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 18, Number 3, September 1972
- pp. 257-260
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS257 Critical Studies in Antebellum Sectionalism: Essays in American Political and Economic History. By Robert R. Rüssel. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1972. Pp. xix, 223. $10.50.) These articles, written between 1924 and 1966, deal with four themes in the antebellum years—the authority of Congress to prohibit or protect slavery in the territories, the thinking and activities of southern secessionists, the transcontinental railroad as a political issue during the 1850's, and economic implications of slavery for the South. Professor Rüssel does not offer unexpectedly new interpretations, but he does question facts other historians have used as bases for their conclusions . For instance, Rüssel maintains that squatter sovereignty was precisely defined in the acts creating the New Mexico and Utah territories ; later, the concept was muddied by phrases in the Kansas-Nebraska Act which were incorporated in order to make that measure acceptable to the South. The consequent inability of contemporaries and historians to comprehend the legal terminology has caused confusion about whether or not a territorial legislature had the power to exclude or permit slavery. According to Russel's interpretation of the New Mexico and Utah acts it did; Congress granted this authority to the territories whereas the Constitution had formerly given it to established or entering states. Again, in discussing the lack of a diversified economy in the South, Rüssel emphasized climate, topography, and the scarcity of natural resources as more detrimental than slavery. True, bondage had helped to entrench an agricultural system in the slave states, but other factors were as influential in determining the direction of southern economy. Rüssel admits, in his introduction, that subsequent works by other historians have added depth to his own research topics, and he apologizes for the lack of a major theme in the collection. An apology is hardly necessary. Professor Russel's previously published books and this anthology offer evidence of a long and distinguished career as a teacher and a scholar. Eugene H. Berwancer Colorado State University Slavery in the New World: A Reader in Comparative History. Edited by Laura Foner and Eugene D. Genovese. (New York: Prentice Hall, 1969, Pp. xii, 268. $6.95.) Neither Black nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States. By Carl N. Degler. (New York: Macmillan, 1971. Pp. xvi, 302. $6.95. ) The collection of essays assembled by Laura Foner and Eugene Genovese is an excellent depiction and assessment, provided by the various authors themselves, of the present state of scholarship on Afro-Ameri- 258CIVIL WAR HISTORY can slavery. Indeed, the essays constitute a forum with many of the authors responding to each other's arguments. All of the essays included are comparative and present a wide range of problems and issues, methodological, theoretical and empirical, many of which were originally raised in Frank Tannenbaume Slave and Citizen , continued some years later by Stanley Elkins in Slavery, and taken up in the past decade by David B. Davis in The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, and by Marvin Harris in his Patterns of Race in the Americas. The interpretations of slavery in the Americas by these authors revolve around two tendencies or variables, each of which is represented in the essays making up the first part of the book; namely, the cultural and institutional, on the one hand, and the economic, demographic, and geographic, on the other. At the same time it is apparent that differences within each of these types of interpretations are also present. Nevertheless, they represent the two sides of a debate that has been developing for the past several years among students of slavery and race relations in the Americas. A second group of essays brings the debate over the general interpretations into sharp focus. Represented are attempts to examine the interpretations in the wider perspective of Africa by A. Norman Klein and ancient society by Arnold A. Sio, and also to apply them to the specific problems of slave law in the West Indies by Elsa Goveia, Anglicanism and Catholicism in Virginia and Cuba by Herbert Klein, and the impact of the sugar industry in Puerto Rico and Jamaica by Sidney Mintz. A final discussion...