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I90CIVIL WAR HISTORY some chapters are organized around topical subheadings while others are not, and there is no clear explanation for these variations in format. In the end, careful readers of Yacovone's book will be rewarded with a fuller understanding of the complexity of abolitionism and a deepened appreciation of Samuel J. May's career. Yet for all its specific strengths, this work succeeds only partially in conveying the biographical essentials of its subject. James Brewer Stewart Macalester College The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America. By Valarie H. Ziegler. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. Pp. 241. $35.00.) The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America is intellectual history with narrative tautness and conceptual rigor. It is an important addition to the history of the peace reform and of cultural currents in the United States to the Civil War. Ziegler's subject is the unfolding ideas ofthe two wings oforganized peace advocates from 18 15 to 1865: those who were identified with the American Peace Society (APS) and those others who aligned with William Lloyd Garrison and the New England Non-Resistance Society. Members of both wings were deeply committed to social reform, notably antislavery and were therefore forced by the course of ideological division in the nation to clarify their positions on peace. Clarification amounted to a significant change in position for both groups of peace advocates who, alike, accepted the Union's war. By locating the source of that mutual capitulation to war in a half-century of intellectual ferment, Ziegler makes a major contribution to the literature. Initially both groups were motivated by the "love ethic" of Jesus, the notion that compassion is godly and that violence is intrinsically sinful; but unlike sectarian pacifists such as Mennonites, they sought not only to obey but also to promulgate the Gospel ethic. They assumed its social and political efficacy. Ziegler writes: "Though they applauded Jesus the martyr, they assumed that, in imitating him, their efforts would lead not to the cross, but to success" (179). The tension between intrinsic and consequential criteria of ethics was exposed by the national crisis over slavery and civil war, and it affected both wings of peace advocates in different ways. Ziegler accounts for this variation by a temperamental difference between APS adherents, who regarded the U.S. culture and government as a viable vehicle of reform, and nonresistants, for whom any compromise with a society built on coercive violence and slavery was anathema. This difference accounted for the divergence in ethics and strategy that racked the movement in the 1830s, she argues, and it accounted also for the different ways by which in the 1850S each wing replaced the love ethic with an ethic of coercion. The APS increasingly elevated the values of law and order as the environment for peace, and dissociated the peace reform from issues of internal violence, in- BOOK REVIEWSICI eluding finally the Civil War. The nonresistants explicitly distinguished themselves (bound by an ethic of love) from the rest of the citizenry for whom, they believed, human liberty enjoined coercion, including finally Civil War. Tragically, and with few exceptions, peace advocates lost any ethical vantage point from which to critique the conduct or outcome of that war. A synopsis of the argument is no substitute for the book. Ziegler writes a rich, clear narrative. She casts ideas in the context of personal and organizational struggles. She captures them in appropriate anecdotes and apt quotations and restates them in relation to her developing line of argument. She gives force to her underlying assumption—that ideas mattered a great deal in that age—by the story she tells. She relates the ethical struggle of peace advocates to the broad currents of the period. Her account is grounded in a close reading of primary published sources and in archive materials, and it is fully informed by the secondary literature on the period. The scholarship is sound, but is not imposed on the narrative (interesting nuggets are relegated to the thirty-four pages of citations and endnotes). The clarity and thrust of her interpretation distinguish Ziegler's book from Merle Curti's ground-breaking The American Peace Crusade: 1815-1860 (1929) and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 190-191
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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