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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 alone in the bed of a common freight wagon, sitting on his coffin, moving inexorably toward the scaffold and martyrdom. Calmly but firmly Brown stood before a throng ofonlookers. In quotations from those present—soldiers, newspapermen , local citizens, and Virginia officials—the drama of Brown's last minutes unfolded. Brown's death, Goodrich tells us, was the final chapter of a series of events begun on the plains of Kansas five years earlier. From Brown's execution, Goodrich's account returns to "Bleeding Kansas," where Free Soilers for seven years battled to prevent proslavery Southerners from establishing bondsmanship in the Kansas Territory. To the victor went the spoils: political control of the virgin soil of Kansas and two additional United States senators who might tip control of national policy to one side or the other. Goodrich's book, written for the general reader rather than the specialist, emphasizes the dramatic and consists of extensive quotations from a large, interesting cast of characters. Speakers include Charles Robinson, the dominant politician in Kansas for the second half of the nineteenth century; William F. Cody, a child in the 1850s but the future Buffalo Bill; Julia Lovejoy, who left incredible descriptions of bitter winters and rattlesnake infested cabins; and BOOK REVIEWS73 hatchet-faced James H. Lane, political mountebank turned cold-blooded killer. The last chapter takes the reader full circle, back to John Brown and his October 16-18, 1859, raid on Harpers Ferry. Events there, told in the words of the participants , depict a stunned citizenry, a small, dedicated band of abolitionists who are determined to free slaves or give their lives trying, and the utter hopelessness of Brown's plan. The epilogue returns to Kansas, introducing a new character, William Quantrill, about whom Goodrich has written inBloody Dawn, a previous book. Well-chosen, appropriately placed pictures and lithographs, mostly from the Kansas State Historical Society collection, liberally adorn the pages. Two nicely prepared maps keyed to the text help readers unfamiliar with the MissouriKansas border place events in a geographical context Though half-a-dozen manuscript sources appear in the bibliography, War to the Knife was written largely from published material. Those who prefer a more complete historical analysis ofthe struggle for Kansas should read James C. Matin's two books on the subject; James Monaghan's Civil War on the Western Border; 1854-1865 (1955); James A. Rawley's Race and Politics: "Bleeding Kansas" and the Coming of the Civil War (1969); or Michael Fellman's Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the Civil War (1989). But those looking for a lively, though uncritical account unburdened by analysis or completeness will find in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 72-73
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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