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BOOK REVIEWS371 congressional dissent. The next time Congress debates the meaning of the War Powers Act with respect to American forces in Lebanon, Central America, or some other distant trouble spot, this fine record of nineteenth -century patterns should provide intellectual ammunition for both sides of the battle. J. Garry Clifford University of Connecticut Chinese in the Post Civü War South: A People Without a History. By Lucy M. Cohen. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984. Pp. xviii, 211. $22.50.) Some titles perfectly describe a monograph. Cohen provides a good example . The experiment by some Southern planters, who had lost confidence in the labors of freedmen, to import Chinese as an alternate source of cheap, dependable labor has never been adequately explored. Had the experiment not been a failure, a wider range of vital sources might be available. Had the author not been thus hamstrung, the story of the Chinese might become a more vivid chapter in Southern history. Antebellum Protestants developed an interest in the Chinese people through the foreign mission activities of their churches. Their physical introduction occurred when enterprising missionaries transported converts to exhibit as "curiosity pieces"—such "evidence of their accomplishments " was very effective in fundraising. Under postwar circumstances, the Chinese became "Coolies," not merely potential souls for Christ but a potential source of cheap labor as they had been on West Indian plantations and American West railroad gangs. The mechanics of exploitation were intricate. The United States, suspicious of a conspiracy to institute a different type of slavery, closely regulated the Southern Coolie trade. The acquisition of laborers was made more complex by a labyrinth of negotiations with labor agents, Chinese headmen and the Chinese government itself. Contracts had to be developed . The competition of American railroads had to be met. Once acquired, the Coolie workforce proved disappointing. Planters were generally satisified with the actual labor performed, but not with the nature of the people. As a class, the Chinese were not as docile as many apparently hoped, and they rigidly protected their contractual rights. Infringements upon agreements, or attemptsto alter them, resulted in an intransigence reminiscent of Negro slave resistance. Even minor problems were difficult to reconcile, since the parties involved were of strikingly divergent cultures and could barely communicate. In frustration , planters returned to black labor which, over the generations, they had come to understand at least partially. As Cohen shows, not all Southern Chinese labor was agricultural. They worked on such Southern railroads as the Alabama and Chattanooga and the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. They also became shopkeepers, 372CIVIL WAR HISTORY labor brokers, and tradesmen—and, more commonly, launderers, bookkeepers , shoemakers, woodcarvers, and cooks. Within Louisiana, when convict labor proved insufficient, Coolies were hired within the textile mills of the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The majority of these "objects of experimentation" did not remain dispersed across the South. Most eventually migrated to New Orleans or to the Pacific Coast, or else returned to their native land. Surviving rural clusters are rare, and quite a few who remained merged into the black substrata. In Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, for example, the family names of some of the more prosperous antebellum free people of color now appear among mixed-blood descendants of the original Chinese. A relatively short monograph, Chinese in the Post Civil War South leaves many questions unanswered. This reader's appetite to know more about the subject was whetted but left unsatiated. Cohen's Southern Chinese appear as shadowy figures who emerge, exist, then fade ultimately into miscegenous oblivion. However, the author's analyses are often astute, and deficiencies within the study appear to result more from a lack of sources than from a lack of brilliant interpretation. Gary B. Mills The University of Alabama Suffering to Silence: 29th Texas Cavalry, CSA, Regimental History. By Bradford K. Felmly and John C. Grady. (Quanah, Tex.: Nortex Press, 1975. Pp. xii, 259. $8.50.) Fighting With Ross' Texas Cavalry Brigade, C.S.A.: The Diary of George L. Griscom, Adjutant, 9th Texas Cavalry Regiment. Edited by Homer L. Kerr. (Hillsboro, Tex.: Hill Junior College Press, 1976. Pp. xx, 255. $9.50.) Suffering to Silence is the first published history of the Confederate...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 371-372
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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