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274CIVIL WAR HISTORY those of us who teach history that we have done a poor job in educating the public about the Constitution. Thebook offers us only the grim satisfaction of knowing this is nothing new—indeed, it has been going on since the 1790s. In 1860 only one state, California, required that the Constitution be taught in the public schools. This may have been just as well, because in antebellum America instruction about the Constitution "usually meant a shamefully short considertion ofwhat had happened at the Philadelphia Convention" (p. 81). Part of Kammen's main theme is that Americans not only do not read or understand the Constitution, but even those interested in public affairs do not follow the development of the judiciary. Kämmen reminds those of us interested in the Middle Period that Dred Scott made its way through the court systems from 1846 to 1855 without anyone noticing it, or anticipating its importance. He notes that "As late as the 1830s Supreme Court Reports did not enjoy extensive circulation, even among lawyers. Thus, the Dartmouth College Case "did not attract much interest at the time, nor was its importance fully appreciated" (p. 85). Similarly , Kämmen notes that the expansion of Supreme Court jurisdiction in 1875 "received little attention at the time" (p. 96). Unfortunately Kämmen fails to explain the significance of either Dartmouth College or the expanison of Supreme Court jurisdiction for the larger society. Some of Kammen's interpretations are also questionable. For example , it is hard to understand why Kämmen thinks Justice Story was "a staunch opponent of slavery," especially by 1840 (p. 96). I am surprised that he could write about the culture of the Constitution in the modern period and ignore Watergate and resignation of first a vice-president and then a president. These however, are quibbles with a book that is rich, stimulating, and provocative. Paul Finkelman State University of New York, Binghamton Yankee Saints and Southern Sinners. By Bertram Wyatt-Brown. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Pp. xiii, 227. $20.00.) Yankee Saints and Southern Sinners is the eye-catching title for a collection of essays on the antebellum United States by Bertram WyattBrown . To seven essays, all of which were originally prepared for other purposes, Wyatt-Brown has added an introduction and epilogue. The result is a thought-provoking discussion of moral and political culture in the decades prior to the Civil War. Wyatt-Brown's theme is that the North and South developed antagonistic ethical systems. He argues that recent studies have "muddied . . . the moral dynamics" of Civil War causation by emphasizing the similarities between the North and South or by portraying the war as a BOOK REVIEWS275 product of a crisis in institutional politics. To reemphasize the visceral element in sectional relations he concentrates on two groups—Yankee abolitionists and southern slaveholders—who best demonstrate that "a great moral chasm" separated the two sections. In part 1 of the book, which concentrates on the abolitionist conscience , Wyatt-Brown begins with an historiographie essay: "Stanley Elkins and Northern Reform Culture." Wyatt-Brown values Elkin's insight that at the core of the antislavery movement was an "antinomian personality," which placed individual conscience above human institutions . Elkins believed this crippled the chances for peaceful abolition. But Wyatt-Brown argues that, while antinomianism precluded an orderly approach to power and limited the responses of conservatives and slaveholders, it also encouraged individuals to take responsibility in shaping their world. In "Conscience and Career: Young Abolitionists and Missionaries Compared," Wyatt-Brown suggests some of the factors involved in the development of antinomian personalities. Evangelical parents in the early nineteenth century, he shows, deliberately created anxiety in promising children. Based on fear of disapproval and desire for praise, that anxiety provided individuals with the motivation to challenge traditional practices and seek to create a better world. Well aware thatnot all such children became reformers, Wyatt-Brown is careful to stress the importance of individual decisions in the making of abolitionists. This becomes especially clear in "The 'Family Arrow in Time': An Evangelical Case History," in which he analyzes the inner lives of three generations in the family of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 274-276
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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