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276CIVIL WAR history cisms, however, in an otherwise sound study. In all, A World in Shadow is a valuable addition to the existing literature on free blacks. Loren Schweninger University of North Carolina, Greensboro The Secessionist Impulse: Alabama and Mississippi in 1860. By William L. Barney. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974. Pp. xv, 371. $14.50.) This monograph minutely examines the secession surge in two deep Southern states in the last fateful months of the old Union. Employing extensive statistical techniques as well as more traditional historical pro» cedures, Professor Barney unravels a complicated, sometimes confusing story, but his main points are clear enough. Mississippi was more disaffected than Alabama. In both states slaveholders dominated politics, and radical leaders at the state and local levels who championed slavery expansion and backed Breckinridge for the presidency tended to be young, on-the-make lawyers and planters with growing numbers of slaves and increasing acreages of land in newer, booming areas of cotton cultivation. The white masses were encouraged to follow by their traditional loyalty to the Southern Democratic party and their habitual racism. Conservative opposition by Douglas Democrats and especially Bell Whigs tended to rally behind older men, mostly Whiggish types in the few towns and cities and in the more settled, stable plantation areas. Breckinridge partisans took advantage of late antebellum Democratic predominance, but they also exploited a growing restlessness caused by severe drought, rumors of slave insurrections, and talk of inevitable war as they won the election and thereby edged the people closer to secession. The national triumph of the "Black Republicans" gave the secessionists all the additional momentum they needed. The intransigence of both the Breckinridgers and the Republicans left the defeated Alabama and Mississippi conservatives confused and dispirited, and they could do little more than stall for time. It was over quickly in Mississippi where the radicals, mostly Breckinridge men, easily won the election for delegates to the state convention which overwhelmingly voted to secede. In Alabama it was a little different as the majority of yeomen in the northern half of the state deserted their Breckinridge leaders and voted for conservative convention delegates. Only the rush of events enabled the young Breckinridge lawyers and planters to win a narrow victory for immediate secession. This whole complex story is introduced by a long chapter which leans heavily on the interpretations of Eugene Genovese, Eric Foner, Fabian Linden, and Frederick L. Olmsted. This inevitably leads to an attempt to isolate and define various classes of white Southerners, and BOOK REVIEWS277 Professor Barney has the usual difficulty herding these mobile, individualistic people into neat categories in a society where class lines were blurred. On page 32 he defines the middle class as "relatively prosperous farmers and small slaveowners," but on page 38 he describes it as nonslaveholding yeomen and urban tradesmen. On page 63 he parenthetically defines planters as owners of thirty or more slaves and throughout tends to endow them with a unique patriarchal mentality . How such fellows could reach the higher echelons of commercial agriculture or stay there for long without practicing standard bourgeois virtues is not explained. This reviewer is inclined to think that Professor Barney and many other able historians overestimate the class consciousness and socioeconomic stratification and ideological orientation of the antebellum South. But Professor Barney does not base his entire study on such concepts . He puts much stress on youth as a factor in the secession movement and emphasizes racism even more. In many ways he is at his best here, relentlessly probing primary sources and coming up with some candid quotations more valuable than many statistics. He also mentions political opportunism, but unfortunately only in passing. Some antebellum Southern políticos were great broken field runners always driving for the next election victory no matter what course was required . More coverage of late antebellum party politics in Alabama and Mississippi would have illustrated this expedient bandwagon aspect of secessionism and also added necessary historical depth. Perhaps only more varied Alabama should have been examined in greater factual detail over a longer period of antebellum time. Nevertheless, Professor Barney's book is a fine addition to the vast literature on the coming of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 276-277
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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