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284CIVIL WAR HISTORY Greenberg presents us with a provocative thesis. Combined with the work of J. Mills Thornton, Eugene Genovese, William Cooper, William J. Barney, and others, Masters and Statesmen adds increased depth and complexity to our understanding of the antebellum South. Taken by itself, however, the work is more a tentative essay—an untested exploration of a thesis—than a well reasoned and proven book. While Greenberg 's ideas are fascinating, they remain unsubstantiated. Each chapter relies upon the theme itself rather than substantive evidence to prove the point. In sum, this slim volume offers the reader interesting ideas to apply to his or her own research but does not offer anything close to definitive evidence in support of those ideas. RobertE. Shalhope University of Oklahoma BeatingAgainst the Barriers: Biographical Essays in Nineteenth-Century Afro-American History. By R. J. Blackett. (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1986. Pp. xviii, 412. $37.50.) R. J. M. Blackett's book comprises brief biographies of six black Americans of the Civil War era: James W. C. Pennington, William and Ellen Craft, Robert Campbell, John Sella Martin, and William Howard Day. The common ingredient that enables Professor Blackett to discuss these peopleunder onecover is their residence in the United Kingdom at some time during the American antebellum years and their search for black rights. Otherwise their backgrounds and interests vary. Pennington, the Crafts, and Martin were born in bondage but escaped. As described by Blackett, the flight of the Crafts from Georgia in 1848 was the most spectacular of the three. Pennington and Martin served as ministers, although all the subjects of this book expressed deep religious convictions. All were strong advocates of education but their educational involvement differed. Pennington, Martin, and the Crafts openly supported public education for blacks; Campbell was a teacher in Philadelphia. Day's contribution was most notable. Except for one brief interval, he served as a member of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, school board from 1873 to 1899. These life sketches average about one hundred pages each and each person is adequately covered, except for Ellen Craft. She seems overshadowed by her husband, particularly during their years in England from 1850 to 1869. At this point in the Craft biography, Blackett focuses on William's colonization projects in Africa. Nor is there much detail on Robert Campbell's early life. Indeed, one may wonder why he was even included in the book. Born and educated in Jamaica, Campbell spent only seven years in the United States. The country held little attraction BOOK REVIEWS285 for him, and, as a result, he strongly advocated black emigration. While others, like Martin, at times thought of colonization as a means of escaping discrimination, in the end they placed their faith in fundamental American statements on basic human rights and spurned emigration. Nor was Campbell, like the others, heavily involved in antislavery activities or in Reconstruction; in fact, he no longer lived in the United States after 1862. Pennington, the Crafts, Martin, and Day, to the contrary, all participated in politics or social uplift endeavors in the postwar South. The biographies in this book not only inform the reader about their subjects, but they expand related topics. The chapter on Campbell gives as much detail about Martin Delany's colonization efforts as it does about Campbell himself. Discussing John Martin's life in Britain during the Civil War, Blackett writes a brief but insightful description of proConfederate sympathy in Parliament. His discussion of segregation in the Harrisburg school system presents a bleak picture which was undoubtedly all too common in American public education duringthelate nineteenth century. There are occasional slips, however. On page209, for instance, Blackett writes: "Even Lincoln had been forced to emancipate slaves in the District of Columbia." It would have been clearer to say that Lincoln signed the bill abolishing slavery in Washington, D.C, after he became convinced that it was constitutional—he held the bill for only two days before agreeing to it. Some readers might take exception to the statement that ". . . slavery and discrimination [emphasis added] were directly responsible for the war." (p. 202) Still, such minor criticisms are overshadowed by Blackett's effort to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 284-285
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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