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BOOK REVIEWS7I labor and bring the South's slave system into greater harmony with the modernizing tendencies of the North. Williams traces a connection between antislavery reform and the origins of feminism. Van Broekhoven examines women work in antislavery fairs to demonstrate their liberating effect for Southern slaves and Northern women. Having established the importance of slavery for an understanding of the Lowell mills, it would be useful to extend the project to suggest to visitors why the unity of interests between the "Lords of the Loom" and the "Lords of the Lash" collapsed, leaving the former eager to deprive the latter of their reason for being. Louis S. Gerteis University of Missouri, St. Louis The Trials of Anthony Burns: Freedom and Slavery in Emerson's Boston. By Albert J. Von Frank. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998. Pp. xix, 409. $27.95.) Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, the saying goes. In the Anthony Burns incident (in which antislavery Bostonians in 1854 tried and failed to liberate Burns, a fugitive slave), Albert J. Von Frank sees the seeds of the mighty Civil War. Tired of interpretations that dismiss the Transcendentalists as insignificant in shaping such events, Von Frank, an English professor, argués that the forcible rendition of Burns under the Fugitive Slave Law came to symbolize the Constitution 's failure to protect the liberty fought for in the American Revolution. Transcendentalists , and especially Emerson, not only pointed to the discrepancy of holding slaves while professing the value of freedom but also insisted on separation from political institutions that failed to protect liberty. They inspired what Von Frank calls a "pocket" revolution, the overthrow of the compromise-tainted Whigs in Massachusetts, allowing antislavery elements to grow stronger and, as the trend continued, making war inevitable. They "colonized" Northern minds with their revolutionary ideals. Von Frank's method is to develop the Burns in incident in intimate detail as it was perceived by certain participants. Beginning at the point when news of Burns's arrest reached his minister on the morning of May 25, he examines the reactions and motivations of dozens of people—lawyers, abolitionists, businessmen , reformers, Boston's African American leaders, politicians, ministers, writers—in roughly chronological sequence as revealed in theirjournals, memoirs, sermons, speeches, newspapers, letters, etc. He examines these texts to see the rationales for behavior, particularly noting the permission given by Transcendentalists for taking uncompromising stands even at the expense of disunion. As the incident unfolds, almost as in a novel, one becomes better acquainted with the principal characters and develops a growing sense ofBoston in the 1850s. Because one sees largely through the eyes of the educated, however, one is 72CIVIL WAR HISTORY drawn into their perspective. Boston's turbulent masses are largely undifferentiated , for example, and one is inclined to view elites, not the masses, as the only important actors. Von Frank acknowledges racism, nativism, anti-Catholicism, and class distinctions in Boston; but the core issue remains for him the one of human freedom. Indeed, he finds especially noteworthy a commitment to freedom by Transcendentalists that transcended their instinctive prejudices. It was this commitment, communicated to others through the Why Burns incident, that ensured that abolition would in fact be achieved. Von Frank has written a provocative, stimulating defense not only of Transcendentalists but of a style of history that elevates events over trends, the creative individual over the masses, and rationality over social causation. Those who doubt that the cultural values and assumptions of the Transcendentalists were widely shared throughout the North, however, will find much with which to argue in this book, as will those who believe that politicians and political institutions remained powerful influences on popular behavior. While the Anthony Burns incident provides important and interesting insights into the interaction of local and national political contexts in the 1 850s, one should be careful not to assume that New England intellectuals spoke for the North or shaped most political behavior. Phyllis F. Field Ohio University War to the Knife: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861. By Thomas Goodrich. (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1988. Pp. vi, 296. $29.95.) Thomas Goodrich's prologue sets the tone for War to the Knife. John Brown rode...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 71-72
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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