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BOOK REVIEWS287 did. Again and again they point out that in the final analysis the Ellison empire rested on the willingness of whites to tolerate it. That toleration was not automatic. Johnson and Roark make an important contribution with their account of the reenslavement crisis of 1859 and 1860. Historians have previously known about legislative debates and statutes, but with the Ellison letters Johnson and Roark show the impact speeches and laws made on the free black community. These upperclass free people of color were increasingly apprehensive, and with good reason. The forces urging that all blacks be enslaved or deported were gaining strength. By the end of 1860 the future looked ominous, but then came the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which changed everything. I would be remiss to close this review with no comment on the research done by Johnson and Roark. In my view this book represents historical investigation at its best. Beginning with the corpus of Ellison family letters , these two historians plunged into city, county, and state records and newspapers, and manuscripts of neighboring whites. Imaginative and ingenious research produced this book. Finally just a brief comment on No Chariot Let Down, which contains the thirty-four letters that started Johnson and Roark on their remarkable journey. Located since 1979 at the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, these letters permit historians to look at the free mulatto elite through its own eyes. Written chiefly in 1859 and 1860 by members of the Ellison family in Charleston and Stateburg, these letters provide a concreteness that brings alive this extraordinary family. I congratulate Johnson and Roark; they have done remarkable and significant work. William J. Cooper, Jr. Louisiana State University Abraham Lincoln Illustrated Envelopes and Letter Paper, 1860-1865. By James W. Milgram. (Northbrook, 111.: Northbrook Publishing Company , 1984. Pp. 272. $19.95.) Envelopes decorated with political and patriotic motifs have been printed in the United States since the 1850s, but their peak period in popularity and aesthetics alike coincided with Abraham Lincoln's five-year stint in the national spotlight. According to a standard philatelic reference work, the number of known varieties of patriotic covers produced North and South from 1860 through 1865 exceeds eleven thousand. Their designs range from tiny upper-left symbols or sentiments to elaborate, sprawling vignettes that barely leave room for name, address, and stamp. Illustrated letter paper was also in vogue during this period, often providing the greater potential of a larger design space. Most Civil War designs 288CIVIL WAR HISTORY convey the solemn demeanor of a nation in the throes of self-destruction, but others—the many cartoon and caricature covers in particular—bear witness to a rich, often ribald sense of humor that survived the worst of our national crises. Along with other types of material culture from the period, these covers comprise a truly significant scholarly resource ignored almost altogether by historians. As candidate, wartime president, commander-in-chief, and finally as martyr/icon, Abraham Lincoln appeared on many of the cover and letter paper designs printed from his nomination as the 1860 Republican standard-bearer through the 1865 summer of shock and anguish that followed his assassination. Nearly four hundred varieties of Lincoln covers are catalogued in this handsome and useful volume, the vast majority of them reproduced at actual size in uniformly crisp illustrations. Also included is a truly eclectic array of other Lincoln graphic material and related covers promoting other presidential candidates, military notables, and the Union war effort. A final chapter, rather inappropriately titled "Lincoln Mementos," provides the texts of some of the more interesting letters sent inside Lincoln covers, along with such ephemera as assassination headlines, examples of plain envelopes addressed to Lincoln, and a handbill offering a thirty-thousand-dollar reward for the assassin John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln Illustrated Envelopes and Letter Paper is the handiwork of a prominent collector and physician, not a scholar, and the results are often apparent. Organizational discipline is haphazard throughout and disappears altogether in the final chapters. An introductory essay creating a cultural context for the Lincoln covers and exploring their use and thematic significance would have added much to the volume; Michel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 287-288
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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