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BOOK REVIEWS295 Penn Warrens phrase about the ritual of being American (388-89). Horwitz brilliantly illuminates both rituals and the ambivalence of Americanness. Further , Confederates in the Attic is a terrific opportunity to introduce our students to the excitement and challenge of Civil War studies by making this wickedly good book required reading. Catherine Clinton Wofford College Alexander William Doniphan: Portrait ofa Missouri Moderate. By Roger D. Launius. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997. Pp. xiv, 316. $37.50.) As a moderate Whig, Alexander Doniphan found himself caught in the maelstrom of events as his country lurched from crisis to crisis in the 1 850s. The story of his life offers insight into the meaning ofWhiggery and the difficulties and dilemmas faced by many members of that party as their nation disintegrated into civil war. Roger Launius presents a solid biography of this outstanding Missouri leader whose public life spans the most turbulent years of the state's history, from the 1 830s through Reconstruction. Born in 1808 in Kentucky, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830, living most of his life in Liberty, near Kansas City. A lawyer, he became a well-known figure in the state when he represented the Mormons in their fight to retain their property, which culminated in the "Mormon War" of 1838. He gained national renown by his stellar service in the Mexican War, leading the First Missouri Mounted Volunteers. After a remarkable march of more than a thousand miles from Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe, Doniphan was placed in charge of writing a constitution and legal code for New Mexico and making treaties with the Navajo and Zuni tribes. In mid-December 1846 Doniphan began his march south, defeating the Mexicans at El Brazito and Sacramento and ultimately joining forces with Zachary Taylor at Saltillo. His military triumphs made him "the hero of a nation," second only to Taylor (161). That Doniphan never became a national political figure was due in part to his political moderation during the 1850s. A slaveholder himself, he supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act, but he also accepted the authority of Congress over the territories, even if that meant forbidding slavery. (Curiously, Launius is silent on Doniphan's reaction to the Dred Scott case.) While he urged Missourians to move to Kansas, he did not participate in any of the border raids into the territory ; instead, he preached law and order. As violence escalated in "Bleeding Kansas," Doniphan found himself clinging to the middle ground of moderation , ground that was fast eroding. He supported John Bell and the Constitutional Union Party in the presidential election, served as a delegate to Virginia's "Old Gentleman's Convention," opposed Missouri's secession, and during the war refused to fight for either side. According to Launius, the Civil War broke Doniphan's spirit. Trusted by neither side and financially ruined by the war, he 296CIVIL WAR HISTORY struggled merely to survive. Always a dynamic advocate in the courtroom and an astute businessman, Doniphan recovered his fortunes after the war, but he had become an embittered and cynical man. This is a good biography that could have been better with the help of an alert editor. Awkward sentence structure, imprecise language, omitted words, and simply wrong word choice (bristled for grizzled) are distracting. For those not familiar with Missouri counties, a map would help. One can also argue with some generalizations. That "the Navajos had no understanding of the idea of surrender " is a questionable assertion; that the 1 860 Republican platform called for "eventual abolition where it [slavery] presently existed" is inaccurate (130, 241). Despite these caveats, the book makes a significant contribution to understanding the intricacies of Missouri politics in the antebellum period and the utter frustration felt by those moderates who could not, would not, take up arms against their countrymen. Virginia J. Laas Missouri Southern State College John Archibald Campbell: Southern Moderate, 1811-1889. By Robert Saunders Jr. (Tuscaloosa: University ofAlabama Press, 1997. Pp. vi, xii, 285. $39.95.) Usually branded as a fire-eater, John A. Campbell emerges from this biography as anything but. Best known as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ( 1 853-1...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 295-296
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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