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278CIVIL WAR HISTORY other questions, the author provides a compassionate portrait not only of Lincoln but of his unstable wife as well. Strozier concludes that when Lincoln finally came to terms with his own inner doubts and his own "House Divided" he found the meaning and the greatness ofhis life. In chapter 8, the author presents a highly speculative and theoretical interpretation of the political crisis of the 1850s. (He warns skeptical readers to ignore the section.) Lincoln and the other political leaders of that generation, Strozier asserts, "fed on and reflected a widespread, indeed rampant, paranoia throughout the land." This conclusion will not be accepted by those historians who consider black slavery a deeply passionate issue. This crisis was a real problem that reflected real fears and real moral issues. After all, even the paranoid can have real enemies. Whatever flaws this book may have, it is certainly worth reading. It is extremely well written and the text is remarkably free of psychological jargon. The authorhas read deeply andwidely in the Lincoln literature and he approaches his subject with an agreeable modesty. Those who find Lincoln a subject ofendless interest should welcome this perceptive addition to the Lincoln bibliography. Frank J. Wetta Galveston College Many Excellent People: Power and Privilege in North Carolina, 1850-1900. By Paul D. Escott. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985. Pp. xxii, 344. $29.00.) "Hierarchy" and "democracy" are the poles around which Paul D. Escott organizes his new book, a panoramic view of politics and society in late nineteenth-century North Carolina. His' starting premise is the domination of the social and political order by a rigid, hierarchical "gentry." Although the members of Escott's ruling class did not always draw their power from traditional landed wealth (some were industrialists), they held to a highly traditional view of leadership, insisting that the "best men" (namely themselves) continue to rule, and practicing all manner of skulduggery to maintain their hegemony. Their vehicles of control were the Confederate national and state governments, the Ku Klux Klan, and above all the Democratic party, all ofwhich Escott treats as emblematic of "class" interests. Aligned in opposition to the aristocracy, though, were the "democratic" forces of the state, ranging from "independent" white yeoman farmers to factory workers to blacks, who were universally animated by their desire to open up political participation and achieve socialjustice. Their "culture of opposition" was manifested in the political liberalization campaigns of the 1850s, in anti-Confederate activity during the Civil War, in the Republican and Populist parties, and, ultimately, in the Fusion BOOK REVIEWS279 movement of the 1890s. The story, of course, ends tragically, as the elite smashed opposition to its rule widi the white supremacy and disfranchisement campaigns of die turn of the century. Escott tells his story clearly and with deep sympathy for his underdogs. Along the way, he has interesting things to say about such collateral events as the onset of industrialization. Certainly, he makes a strong case that North Carolina was far from being an egalitarian society, and diat many of its "best people" strove to maintain social distance from lesser sorts and maintain dominance over their servants, field hands, and employees. Serious objections can be raised, however, to his contention that die social relations of plantation and factory pervaded all of nineteenth-century North Carolina. His approach to understanding die "class structure" ofthe state, for instance, is highly problematical. Whilepayingmuch attention to the "independence" of die yeomanry, he fails to appreciate the contradiction between "independence" and "hierarchy." Moreover, by largely ignoring die basis of"independence" in propertyrights, hefails to consider the possibility that the conservatism he attributes to aristocratic hegemony may simply reflect the natural interests of all landholders, however small. Assuming as he does that the interests of the gentry and those of lesser whites were inimical, he believes that elite leadership ofsuch major groups as the Ku Klux Klan demonstrates that they were tools of "aristocratic" domination. Membership in the "aristocracy" is determined with some flexibility, though; in Alamance County one "elite" Klan leader, John Trollinger, was in fact a saloonkeeper (pp. 153, 157). Furthermore, confronted by die "elite" status of many Populist politicians...


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