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84CIVILWAR history what Emerson called the "passion for seeming" (p. 121). The perpetuation and fulfillment of that public image became a controlling force for John Fremont and resulted in increasingly questionable actions and dubious business practices. Jessie never faltered in her devotion to him— called "insanity" by her friends—and she struggled "to protect him against himself" (pp. 416, 356). In writing a woman's biography, the historian faces the perplexing problem of how to relate that life to the larger context of the traditional concerns of history, and at the same time to develop the meaning of women's lives beyond a recital of quotidian events. Herr ably accomplishes that feat, giving significant insights into what it was like to be a woman in the nineteenth century. Each chapter is prefaced by short quotations from a variety of sources which deal with the female experience , including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Wright, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, in addition to cautions and prescriptions from doctors, preachers, advice manuals, and Godey's Lady's Book. Herr effectively develops the tension between society's restrictive demands and Jessie Fremont's ebullient ambition. There are some disadvantages to describing events through the eyes of one person. For example, when Herr explains Fremont's activities in Missouri during the first year of the Civil War, she emphasizes Jessie's views and thereby leaves the readerwithout a clear understanding of the actual situation. Was Fremont wronged? Did the Blairs betray him? Was Lincoln correct in removing Fremont? Fremont was Jessie's "insanity," and the reader needs to know how far Jessie strayed from reality. Two minor quibbles, of form not substance, are the rather cursory index and the regrettable lack of pictures and maps. Despite these small objections , Pamela Herr has written an excellent and perceptive biography of a fascinating woman. One wonders what would have become of John Fremont without his Jessie. Certainly his life would not have been as dramatic as it was; probably he would not have become as important a figure as he did. Very likely, Jessie would have found her own significant place in American history. V IRGINiA J. Laas Pittsburg State University The Union at Risk: Jacksonian Democracy, States' Rights and the Nullification Crisis. By Richard E. Ellis. (Oxford University Press: New York, 1987. Pp. x, 267. $32.50.) Although I am frank to confess that I disagree with a number of positions taken by the author of this work, I wish at the very outset to assert that this is a superb study, adding new information and insights into our understanding of the Nullification Controversy of 1832-1833. It is richly textured with valuable details on both the national and state levels and BOOK REVIEWS85 quite outstandingly demonstrates a sophistication of understanding about the political maneuvering that occurred throughout the controversy . In many respects, it totally replaces William W. Freehling's Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Movement in South Carolina, 1816-1836, published over twenty years ago. The Nullification Controversy has come in for some extended scholarly attention in the last few years. With the publication of Kenneth Stampp's excellent monograph, The Imperiled Union, which grew out ofhis presidential address before the Organization ofAmerican Historians in 1977, followed in 1982 by Merrill Peterson's Olive Branch and Sword—the Compromise of 1833, and, more recently, his The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Chy, and Calhoun, to say nothing of the recent biographies on Jackson, Van Buren, Webster and Calhoun, one would think that the controversy over nullification had been so thoroughly explored that little remained of significance to investigate. Not so. Ellis' book has much to offer the middle period scholar because it studies in detail the divisions that the controversy triggered among several important states. And the author is at pains to demonstrate how these divisions directly influenced the meaning ofthat elusive term, Jacksonian Democracy. Most important, Ellis traces the two streams of states' rights thought that developed in the 1820s and 30s: the one democratic and advanced by such men as Jackson, Van Buren, Thomas Ritchie, Thomas Hart Benton, and others who not only espoused limited government and spending but also argued the notion of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 84-86
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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