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BOOK REVIEWS299 Most interestingly, perhaps, Cobb also used his diaries to vent frustrations of a more personal, intimate nature. Again and again, in one journal after another, he lashed out at his haughty in-laws and the wife who, for more than three decades, made him miserable by refusing to "cooperate" with him in bed, frequently leaving home, and verbally assailing him for almost every failing imaginable ^—from alleged sexual dalliances with other women to being responsible (in some unexplained way) for the emancipation of the slaves. The Christian promise ofpeace and joy in the hereafter was very important for Cobb, who, it seems, found precious little of either in his own residence. For the Southampton diarist, therefore, life presented an array of hardships. Analysis of this book suggests that Cobb's writings also created an "ordeal" of sorts for their modem-day editor. As Dr. Crofts indicates in the preface, his desire to publish the Cobb manuscripts led him to make a series of pragmatic but nonetheless problematical choices: to devote a disproportionaUy small amount of text space to the 1842-58 entries, necessitating massive cuts; to delete most ofthe passages about weather conditions and agricultural procedures; to organize the early chapters around topical themes while employing a strictly chronological approach in the later ones; and to subdivide individual diaries, such as that for 1859, into as many as four separate chapters. Fortunately, Dr. Crofts made another decision as well—to publish Cobb's eccentric, irregular prose with only the most minimal, unobtrusive changes in spelling, grammar, and syntax. As a consequence, although Cobb is long since "dead and gorn" (as he would have put it), he can still speak to us about his marriage, his farm, his slaves, and his neighbors in the authentic accents and idioms of his class, locale, and era. James Tice Moore Virginia Commonwealth University Mistresses and Slaves: Plantation Women in South Carolina, 1830-80. By Marii F. Weiner. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. Pp. xii, 308. $19.95 paper, $45.95 cloth.) Mistresses and Slaves attempts to explain the ideology ofdomesticity as it functioned in South Carolina from 1830 to 1880. Weiner details how this much debated ideology was transplanted to Southern soil, how Southerners modified it over time, and how it was viewed and shaped not only by plantation mistresses , but also by African American women. Focusing on the work patterns of white and African American women on smaller holdings and in cities as well as on plantations allows Weiner to trace the evolution of the domestic ideal in different economic settings. Weiner constructs a dialogue between the familiar diaries ofelite women and the WPA freedmen's interviews to discuss the intersection of race and gender and describe how that intersection shifted over time. The sources provide an 300CIVIL WAR HISTORY in-depth comparison ofAfrican American and white women's work before and after the war. Other historians have studied household economies, work patterns , and the changes the war wrought; Weiner goes beyond this in examining how the ideology of domesticity shaped those patterns. She contends that the interaction of white women with female slaves created a domestic ideology unique to the South and that it was the South's peculiar adaptation of the ideology that prevented domesticity from becoming an effective philosophy identifying white women with their chattel and challenging slavery. She questions why the Southern formulation ofthe ideal prevented women of both races from viewing each other as individuals. As ambitious as Weiner's thesis is and as thorough as her examination of the evidence is, it lacks important details ofreligion's role in shaping not only Southem political ideology, but domestic ideology as well. Weiner refers to women's devotion and church attendance but never completely explains what they were devoted to or why they attended. Weiner fails to explore sources other than the North for antecedents of Southern domesticity. A subtle and inadequately supported assumption at that "transcending the boundaries of race and gender, sex with black women allowed white men to maintain their authority over all other groups in southern society" (135) underlies much of Weiner's thesis. Weiner accepts that violence or its threat undergirded...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 299-300
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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