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BOOK REVIEWS267 Banking in Frontier Iowa, 1836-1865. By Erling A. Erickson. (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1971. Pp. x, 183. $7.50.) Prior to the appearance of Bray Hammond's award winning Banks and Politics in America almost fifteen years ago, historians had viewed western banking in the ante-bellum period as being predominately wildcat banking. That is, the banks were seen as no more than printing presses churning out rag money to satiate the western hunger for capital as well as a circulating medium. Hammond, however, pointed out the fallacy of this view and argued that the "agrarian" suspicion of banks and paper money resulted in the establishment of some very stable, conservative and well-run banking systems, particularly in the states of Indiana , Missouri and Iowa, and that these banks more truly represented the W7est than the more colorful but irresponsible wildcat banks. Erling Erickson has substantiated Hammond's thesis in his work which focuses upon the development, organization and operation of the banking system in Iowa from its territorial days to the implementation of the National Bank Act at the end of the Civil W7ar. Beginning with a discussion of the territorially chartered Miners' Bank of Dubuque and the subsequent repeal of its charter by anti-bank Democrats , Erickson also analyzes political battles in the constitutional conventions of 1844 and 1846, which finally resulted in the outlawing of note-issuing banks in Iowa, as well as the eventual legalization of banking by a W7hig-dominated constitutional convention eleven years later and the chartering of the State Bank of Iowa in 1858. In a particularly interesting and illuminating chapter, Erickson discusses how a frontier society operated without legally chartered banks, as Iowa did between 1846 and 1857. Utilizing a scalogram analysis of roll call votes of three territorial legislatures and three constitutional conventions, Erickson concludes that the W7higs can be characterized as favoring "an elastic currency created by banks of issue (under general incorporation laws) regulated by a federally chartered national bank." The Democrats, however, were split between the hard-money radicals, who believed "gold and silver the only true and constitutional currency" and were opposed to "all such banks," and the conservative Democrats, who were against the W7hig sponsored national bank but at the same time favored a "flexible currency issued by stringently regulated, locally controlled (state) banks of issue." But the author asserts, "the radical Democrats never were more than a sizable minority in the party" (p. 119). Erickson, in this able study, has fulfilled a real need by clarifying how the banking system in a western state developed and operated. However , the work would have been more valuable had he pushed his political analysis further. For example, there is not an adequate explanation of the shift in the Democratic party from a conservative, pro-bank position in the 1844 constitutional convention to a radical, anti-bank position in 1846. Nor is his partial explanation for the decline of Democratic 268 civil war history strength in the 1850's as due to a "drastic drop in migration from the South and a corresponding increase from the Northwest and Middle Atlantic states," satisfactory. And finally, although a roll call analysis enabled him to chart the contours of the inter- and intraparty splits with some accuracy, a greater effort to explain the motives of the radicals , conservatives and W7higs would have been welcome. James Roger Sharp Syracuse University Ethnic Voters and the Election of Lincoln. Edited by Frederick C. Luebke. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971. Pp. xxxii, 226. $9.75. ) W7ho elected Lincoln in 1860? Until not too long ago, many historians answered, "the Germans," whose bloc vote provided the Republican margin of victory in the Northwest. Many years ago Joseph Schafer raised some sensible doubts about this conclusion, but it was not until the 1960's that a new generation of historians, armed with quantitative techniques for analyzing voting behavior, thoroughly discredited the old conclusion. This useful collection of essays contains eleven articles on the general subject of ethnic voting in the election of 1860, ranging from the early interpretation, represented by Donnai V. Smith and others, to articles published in the 1960's by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 267-268
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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