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190CIVIL WAR HISTORY barometer of public opinion, perhaps there was a real chance for such a realignment, properly managed. This would challenge the current view that the culture of party loyalty was too strong to permit a realignment. Fermer might have considered this question if he had not overlooked LaWanda Cox and John H. Cox's classic study Politics, Principle, and Prejudice, which suggested that the Herald figured in Seward's strategy. It would have been interesting to see how close Bennett actually came to collaborating with his long-standing nemesis. This, then, is a most welcome and useful volume that scholars can read with profit. George McJimsey Iowa State University Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, Series I, Volume I, The Destruction of SL·very. Edited by Ira Berlin, Barbara J. Fields, Thavolia Glymph, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Pp. xxxvii,852. $39.50.) One of the most ambitious documentary histories ever undertaken in the United States, the Freedman and Southern Society Project, anticipates five series with each including one or more volumes. The Project's first volume, published in 1982 and devoted to the black military experience during the Civil War, received universal praise as an extraordinary contribution to the social history of emancipation. No less impressive, the current volume traces slavery's collapse "under the pressure of federal arms and the slaves' persistence in placing their own liberty on the wartime agenda" (xxii). Selected from the voluminous holdings of the National Archives, the 331 documents (or groups of documents under a single number) in this volume range in length from a few lines to several pages and include military reports, affidavits, depositions, and petitions, as well as letters from slaves, slave owners, black soldiers, and politicians . The centrality of the slaves' role in their own liberation clearly emerges from these documents. Although federal officials at first maintained that the sole objective of the Civil War was the restoration of the Union, slaves had a wholly different understanding. Determined to make the abolition of slavery a wartime aim, they seized every opportunity offered by the military conflict to achieve this end. Several considerations , including geography, the character of the slave society, the extent of white unionism, the progress of the military conflict, and the changing policies of Union and Confederate governments determined both the opportunities open to slaves to pursue their own liberty and the form that their struggle for freedom assumed. No two paths out of slavery followed the same course. For slaves in the low country of South BOOK reviews191 Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, who lived on large plantations and possessed a substantial measure of independence, the road to freedom differed from that of slaves in the Mississippi Valley, Kentucky, or even Maryland. Regardless of where slaves resided or the conditions under which they lived, they chipped steadily away at their bondage by "taking help where they could find it and turning every loophole to their advantage" (334) . By placing their loyalty, labor and lives in the service of the Union, they ultimately succeeded in making any federal policy short of universal emancipation untenable. Even so, the destruction of slavery was an uneven, halting and often tenuous process. Just as a Union advance could accelerate the process, a Union retreat could reverse it. These documents also underscore the hesitancy and contradictions involved in making emancipation official Union policy. Caught in the crossfire of slaves and masters, Union commanders struggled to avoid being either slave stealers or slave catchers. A Union officer in Louisiana expressed his frustration by requesting to be relieved of duty because "fighting disloyal citizens" was much more to his "taste than settling the pecadilloes of negroes, creóles or thoroughbred planters" (241). Some Union commanders, such as Generals William T. Sherman and Don Carlos BeII, were either contemptuous of blacks or intensely pro-slavery; others embraced emancipationist principles and bent the First and Second Confiscation Acts in the slaves' favor. In the trans-Mississippi theater commanders such as Samuel R. Curtis and John W. Phelps transformed federal forces into an army of emancipation. Everywhere wartime experiences turned many common soldiers into abolitionists. All the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 190-192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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