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book reviews277 in the North. Just one fact from this book evokes serious reflection: the contributions of Mrs. Owsley to her husband's collection and completion of material and the sacrifice of her own separate scholarly career that this entailed. Such partnerships, one might surmise, may be far more common in the profession than receive proper credit, outside of a fulsome— if inadequate—note at the end of the acknowledgments. Those for whom closer knowledge of Owsley's trips to Europe, rather dull letters, and quiet career will find this book worth their time. The far greater number of scholars who admire his works will appreciate him enough without it. Mark Wahlgren Summers University of Kentucky Bingham of the Hills: Politician and Diplomat Extraordinary. By Erving E. Beauregard. (New York: Peter Lang, 1989. Pp. vii, 327.) Professor Erving Beauregard has written a detailed biography of one of Ohio's most significant political figures of the nineteenth century. In fact, Steven A. Bingham exercised national leadership in three major episodes in American history: the trial of the Lincoln assassins, the development of the Fourteenth Amendment, and a manager of the House Committee on the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Living a long and productive life (1815-1900), Bingham's most essential calling was as member of the House of Representatives from 1854-73. Initially a Whig in the partisan politics of his native Cadiz, in Harrison County, Ohio, he was a delegate at the national Whig convention in 1848 where he authored a resolution reminiscent of the Wilmont Proviso, urging no extension of slavery in the territories. In the preface, Beauregard says he has "probed every known source" on Bingham while confessing "unabashedly" that his study is "sympathetic " (viii). In this latter regard, "adulatory" is closer to the author's feeling for the subject. A curiosity about this work is that it has generated less than two hundred pages of text, for a career that is punctuated with significant national events. The author provides us with ten pages of chronology, literally year by year, and a page of genealogy—all very useful. The book is heavily documented, nearly ninety pages of endnotes and a forty-four page bibliography. All of this is packaged in a less than handsome format, within which the author liberally applies extensive indented quotes. The most important chapters are 5 and 6, dealing with the Fourteenth Amendment and Reconstruction. Bingham is frequently at the eye of these and other political storms, but has somehow escaped major study. Beauregard has given us some important information upon which to build, and has whetted our appetite for more analysis. 278civil war history Beauregard sees Bingham as a "restorationist," rather than placing his subject on the more traditional radical-moderate-conservative continuum . In the section on the post-Civil War, the two related but complex issues of Reconstruction and impeachment tend to get blurred. A separate chapter on each might have added clarity. Bingham's last political office, envoy to Japan, was a typical political patrimony by a grateful President Grant. The fact that Bingham knew next to nothing about Japan or American foreign policy was all too common in our statecraft during the "gilded age." By far the most interesting aspect of the Bingham story is his role in civil rights debate in 1866, and his leadership in the crafting of the Fourteenth Amendment. Bingham's stand against racial discrimination became clear in his drafting of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment in which Congress would now have express power to enforce a federal guarantee of equality. The prohibition against State discrimination emerged later in the debate and would set the stage for the historic antidiscrimination suits of the 1950s. Those revolutionary words that prohibit "any State" from depriving "any person of life, liberty, or property" unlocked the door of segregation. The strategy of the NAACP in preparation for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education litigation focused on Bingham's speeches to fathom his intent regarding statesanctioned discrimination. Beauregard could have made this a compelling aspect of Bingham's greatest legacy. The nation is indebted to John Bingham. He used his intellect and moral force to bring the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 277-278
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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