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88CIVIL WAR history 1860, when the ordinary citizen voting in a presidential election sparked the crisis. That the crisis began outside of Congress, Fehrenbacher suggests , might explain why Congress had no success in containing it. This slim volume contains numerous interesting ideas, but here I can point only to a few. Because most of my work has focused on the Southem side, I will emphasize his observations on the South. I found especially striking Fehrenbacher's using the concept of rage to express the bitterness and vigorousness of the Southern response to the antislavery crusade. The concept of rage dramatizes how Southerners transferred their heightened sense ofpersonal honor to politics. Fehrenbacher maintains diat Southerners reacted so violently against Stephen A. Douglas after Lecompton because diey felt he had betrayed them. And betrayal marked a prominent feature in the Southern mind. Coming after so many other betrayals—for example, New England, which had helped bring slaves to die Soudi, then turned on the South—Douglas's betrayal meant to Southerners diat diey had no trustworthy friends left. Taken together, these two books make a powerful case for the centrality of slavery in die sectional conflict. The neo-revisionists who downplay the importance of slavery have not persuaded Stampp or Fehrenbacher. Stampp considers conflict between North and South irrepressible , because of slavery, which gives meaning, purpose, and political strength to the Republicans. Likewise, Fehrenbacher views slavery as the key to his three crises. In his mind secession came as direct response to die political victory of the antislavery Republicans. Neither Stampp nor Fehrenbacher, however, explains why political antislavery grew so powerful between 1820 and I860. With Fehrenbacher it is clear that the North changed, not the South. He says the South had an unbreakable commitment to slavery by 1820, a commitment that, in his mind, made disunion inevitable. Although Stampp does not go back to 1820, he does argue that antislavery carried the new Republican party to victory. These books reinforce my conviction that no topic in antebellum history begs more insistently for a historian than the Nordiem shift to strident antislavery politics. These two books confirm the eminence of Professors Fehrenbacher and Stampp in our profession. William J. Cooper, Jr. Louisiana State University Agents of Manifest Destiny: The Lives and Times of the Filibusters. By Charles H. Brown. (Chapel Hill, N. C: The University of North Carolina Press, 1980. Pp. x, 525. $25.00.) This book about private efforts to export the Southern American way of life into Cuba, Mexico and Central America captures some universal themes and some universal types of humanity. The dominant theme of Manifest Destiny was the assumption that the United States had a Divine BOOK REVIEWSOi) destiny "to overspread and possess" adjacent weak nations. The agents of Manifest Destiny were zealots proclaiming die highest patriotic objectives . Although, says Brown, "the leaders might profess goals of freeing the people of neighboring lands from tyrannical or inept rulers, . . . one and all they sought glory for themselves" (p. 459). Their followers were young adventurers, waterfront rabble, businessmen willing to wager a few dollars for huge stakes, and Southern extremists eager for new slave territory. The story covers the entire nineteendi century, beginning widi a few introductory chapters dealing with private plots from Aaron Burr to the end of die Mexican W7ar, and concluding with a chapter on dwindling dreams of expansion from 1861 to 1900. The heart of the book deals with the efforts of Narciso Lopez to seize power in Spanish Cuba, and William W7alker's various campaigns to conquer Baja California and Sonora from Mexico and later to seize and "liberate" Nicaragua. Brown narrates these episodes in detail, giving the reader a clearer view of the day-today activities dian is available elsewhere. The incessant intrigues and the bloody skirmishes become increasingly gripping and filled with suspense as the tragedy of these two would-be dictators, Lopez and W7alker, unfolds. Considering themselves invincible Messiahs, they made spur-of-die-moment decisions about fund raising, mobilizing recruits, acquisition of ordnance and transport facilities, and about military action in die field. Especially useful are Brown's racy capsule biographies of dieir many collaborators— men like O'Sullivan, Law, Sanders...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 88-89
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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