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BOOK REVIEWS271 Perhaps a little more attention could have been given to Maxey's military career without harming this appraisal of his political service. And although Columbus is in Kentucky, not Mississippi, and there was no National Archives for Representative Conger to consult in 1878, this is a fine book. It is well written and makes a point that is not obscured by the fact that its subject would have agreed with it: Sam Bell Maxey was an important man. Archie P. McDonald Stephen F. Austin State University Henry Winter Davis: Antebellum and Civil War Congressman from Maryland. By Gerald S. Henig. (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973. Pp. 332. $7.50.) Henry Winter Davis was admittedly liked by very few people during his brief lifetime and historians since then have generally agreed with Gideon Welles' assessment that he was "an uneasy spirit, an unsafe and undesirable man, without useful talents for his country or mankind." But Gerald S. Henig has presented a more favorable portrait of Davis, recognizing his capacity for good as well as the better-known opposite. The negative aspects of Davis' political record are fairly well known to students of the mid-nineteenth century: his participation in the Know Nothing movement, his vehement attack on Lincoln's plan of Reconstruction in the Wade-Davis Manifesto, and his unconcealed efforts to dump Lincoln from the Republican ticket in 1864. Less well-known are his important role in keeping Maryland loyal during the secession crisis, his successful efforts to bring about emancipation in his home state during the war, his appeals for the political equality of black people , and his crucial role in developing the early Radical approach to Reconstruction. Henig has thus provided a very balanced and objective account of the career of this controversial, independent-minded Maryland congressman. The biography supplants the 1916 work of Bernard C. Steiner by taking advantage of the recent discovery of a large collection of Davis letters in the Samuel F. DuPont Papers. For the early phases of Davis' life Henig relies heavily on his subject's autobiography written in 1865. Beyond this, Henig has done thorough research in primary and secondary materials. He has provided an impressively documented book which began originally as a doctoral dissertation at the City University of New York under Hans L. Trefousse. Henig convincingly attributes much of Davis' motivation throughout his life to an almost pathological hatred of the Democratic party. Inheriting the view of his Federalist father toward the party of Jefferson and Jackson, his every action was shaped by an effort to keep Democrats out of power. His joining of the Know Nothing party was explained largely by the Whig ineffectiveness in dealing with their op- 272CIVIL WAR HISTORY position. He was thus, Henig argues, tragically blinded to the inequities of the Nativist movement. His every action as a Maryland congressman , including his condoning of fraudulent tactics by his supporters to secure his election over Democratic opponents, can be attributed to this same motive. His drive to replace Lincoln in 1864 was designed to provide a more effective candidate against the Democrats. Even his advocacy of the cause of black suffrage was motivated in part by a desire to prevent a resurgence of his Democratic enemies after the war. Politics for Davis was not "simply a struggle between rival organizations ; for him it was a war between good and evil" (p. 249). While perhaps occasionally too tolerant of Davis' own intolerance, Henig nonetheless recognizes the all-too-frequent rash and self-seeking political acts of his subject. Yet he is able to present a convincing portrait of a man of tremendous intellectual and oratorical abilities who was capable of fighting hard and suffering much for noble causes. Frederick Blue Youngstown University George W. Smalley: Forty Years A Foreign Correspondent. By Joseph F. Mathews. (Chapel HiII: University of North Carolina Press, 1973. Pp. x, 273. $10.95.) George Smalley was a correspondent for the New York Tribune from 1861 until 1895 and then for the London Times until 1905. A skillful journalist, he received considerable recognition during the Civil War for his reporting on the battle of Antietam. He had that necessary journalistic ability...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 271-272
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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