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BOOK REVIEWS The Presidency ofAndrewJackson: White House Politics, 1829-1837. By Richard B. Latner. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1979. Pp. 291. $20.00.) After several years of attacks, flanking and frontal, and after a pair of attempted lobotomies on Andrew Jackson, the sturdiness of Old Hickory is reaffirmed by Richard Latner in a new study. Not that he is the only historian in the Jackson camp (Robert Remini immediately comes to mindas a strongscholarly admirer), butLatnernotonlyhas the temerity to writeabout a PresidentJackson with a rational program, and with the necessary political savvy and self-control to pursue it, but he avers that Jackson's was a Western program (shades of Frederick Jackson Turner!—with significant shadings). The book's title is much broader than the study itself, and even the limiting sub-tide does not tell all. Latner, heeding Van Buren's advice, decided that since "any study is necessarily circumscribed by its methods and purposes," (p. 5) to analyze four issues ofJackson domestic policy: Indian removal, internal improvements, banking, and the tariff. Arbitrary perhaps, but not necessarily debilitating, since the range of major themes, and the interjection of other issues into the chosen four, are more than sufficient for Latner to develop his theses. Latner argues that Jackson operated at his consistent best when accepting the counsel of his Western advisers Kendall and Blair. And that the interaction of these three men, a Tennessean and two adoptedKentuckians , created the true Jacksonian persuasion, up-dating of the Relief Wars politics of the early 1820's, and transferring that politics to the national scene. Other Jackson advisers are not ignored nor even slighted in Latner's account; far from it, since the in-and-outs ofwinning and keeping Jackson's favor form a large part of the monograph's text. Van Buren, of course, figures prominently and tantalizingly in the picture (as he himself would have wanted it), but Jackson, says Latner, normally had ultimate recourse to Kendall and Blair. The Kitchen Cabinet duo thus are elevated far above the status of yes-men, although Latner does not claim baldly that the two became initiators of policy. Latner states his approach, both in point of view and in method, clearly at the outset. Yet he is too litde concerned with the antiJacksonian view, either in action or in retrospect. Those within the Jackson coalition who falter, here take on the aura of obstructionists, and 273 274 CIVIL WAR HISTORY the Opposition itselfreceives no sustained treatment, good orbad. This is unfortunatebecause during the 1830's both the concept and the reality of an effective, loyal opposition on the national level received a tremendous boost. As for retrospection, Latner dutifully mentions historians who consider Jackson & Co. misguided or worse, but he declines to joust with the likes of Pessen, Govan, Rogin, et al. Again, a pity, since all history is historiography. Within the limits which Latner set for himself, he has succeeded creditably. The interpretations will be too pro-Jacksonian for many readers (some may complain: "and why didn't you handle Jackson and slavery?"), but what is offered is a sensible and perceptive analysis of some major aspects of the Jacksonian presidency. Frank Otto Gatell University of California, Los Angeles The Politics of Benevolence: Revival Religion and American Voting Behavior. By John L. Hammond. (Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Company, 1979. Pp. xi, 243. $16.50.) The scholarly community's attitude toward evangelical Christianity, revivalism, and Puritanism, which reached its nadir in the twenties and thirties, has risen markedly since the work of Perry Miller, John C. Miller, and Timothy Smith in the 1950's, although Richard Hofstadter's charge of evangelical "anti-intellectualism" in the 1960's indicates die persistence of negative themes. If Smith argued convincingly in 1957 that evangelicals led the social reform movements of the Civil War era, political sociologist John L. Hammond of Hunter College and the Center for Policy Research, makes a persuasive case in this remarkable book for the direct role of revival religion in political abolitionism and prohibition. Drawing extensively on sociology of religion literature (Weber, Lipset, Geertz), political behaviorist studies (Berelson, Lazarsfield, Lenski), and historical works (Donald, Gusfield, Cross, Barnes), Hammond shows that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 273-274
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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