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3?8CIVIL WAR HISTORY black—when he believed them to be wrong. Over the course ofthese first years, Lampe believes, Douglass gained increasing confidence and skill as a public speakerand independent thinker. Over time Douglass concentrated less on merely reciting his experiences as a slave, and spent more of his oratory on attacking those institutions he believed helped perpetuate slavery in the United States. Lampe shows that Douglass initially concentrated his venom against organized religion, which he believed helped slaveholders justify their cruelty to slaves, but over the course ofthis period (influenced by Garrison) shifted his attacks to the U.S. Constitution and the federal union, believing that both protected and perpetuated human bondage in the United States. In short, while Freedom 's Voice does not completely overturn previous scholarship on Frederick Douglass, it helps present a more nuanced portrait of the early career of the most famous African American in the nineteenth-century United States. Lampe's work is especially valuable because it concentrates on what generated Douglass's fame in the first place: his skill as a public speaker. While destroying the portrait of Frederick Douglass as the miraculously articulate ex-slave orator (a myth Douglass helped to create), the author presents a more prosaic, but no less impressive story of man of humble origins who through talent, daring, luck, and a long apprenticeship made himself an important spokesman for his race and an eloquent voice tugging at the American conscience during the nineteenth century. Indeed, this meticulous study of Frederick Douglass's oratorical training and early career should remind scholars that however well they think they know as famous a personality as Douglass, there are still sometimes important things to learn and new interpretations to draw. Donald R. Shaffer SUNY Plattsburgh Running on the Record: Civil War-Era Politics in New Hampshire. By Lex Renda. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997. Pp. x, 258. $32.50.) The title of Lex Renda's book suggests its central premise: that past records rather than blueprints for the future determined the outcome of politics in New Hampshire from the 1 850s to the 1 870s. Renda explores the relationship between voters' perceptions of their party's performance and party allegiance and concludes that "retrospective voting" was the most important factor affecting political change. He argues that "voter judgments of party policies were the most consistently reliable gauge for determining the outcomes of elections, that voters issued verdicts on party performance and policy results more often than mandates supporting statements of policies that might be implemented, and that such 'retrospective' voting explains the timing, scope, and durability of electoral change" (2). book reviews309 The book is more a work of political science than of history. Renda tests an hypothesis, a "model" of "retrospective voting," which he considers to be part of "a larger rational-choice approach to past politics" (3). Because his model depends upon quantitative methods and assumes that humans are rational, it is "especially important in explaining the actions ofmarginal partisans."And while New Hampshire is the focus of the study, it is also meant to serve as a test case for applying his model to national politics. "New Hampshire provides a good case study" because the political realignment of the 1 850s in the state was especially dramatic, because politics "remained competitive," and because state elections "were billed as referenda on national politics" (5). As a work of political science the book succeeds admirably. Renda is rigorous in his methods, exhaustive in his analysis, and aware of the shortcomings of his model. Retrospective voting "is more applicable as a theory of change than as a mechanistic instrument," and consequently he draws heavily on newspapers , editorials, and the words ofpoliticians in addition to voting, demographic, and economic statistics (4). He highlights the close relationship between voting behavior and economic and social conditions in New Hampshire and concludes that material circumstanced far more than ideological factors, affected party allegiances. These conclusions have important implications, for they suggest that the economic depression in the mid- 1 850s played a far greater role in political realignments and sectional tensions than historians have generally acknowledged . As a work of history, however, Running on...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 308-310
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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