- A Consuming Fire: The Fall of the Confederacy in the Mind of the White Christian South. Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures, No. 41 (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 45, Number 3, September 1999
- pp. 251-252
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS25I club's existence in perpetuity. Activity waned once the army dispersed to eastern garrisons and frontier posts with no official meeting being held from 1852 until 1867. The club revived following the Civil War under the leadership of Robert Patterson as membership was offered to all officers—both army and navy—who served honorably during the Mexican War. Blood relatives were eventually allowed tojoin as the original members aged, and it is these descendants who have helped keep the organization alive for 150 years. Breithaupt, the current president of the club, has combined a brief overview of the organization with assorted membership lists and biographies of prominent members to produce an impressive scrapbook. The volume also contains miscellaneous anecdotes, a chronology of the war and its battles, and pertinent historical documents. It is richly illustrated with period prints, maps, and photographs of its founders—many which have rarely been seen. The bibliography , which is too short for a book containing nearly 1 500 pages, omits several important works that would have provided context had the author consulted them. Nevertheless, this volume is significant. Information on the Aztec Club has not been readily available before now. While the hefty price tag prevents this from being a book for everyone, scholars and serious students of the Civil War should take the time to browse its pages. Despite the author's claim, however, this is not the definitive history of the Aztec Club of 1847. The real value of Breithaupt's work is that it will surely spark interest about the Aztec Club that should result in real understanding about its history and its effects on the lives of its members. Richard Bruce Winders San Antonio, Texas A Consuming Fire: The Fall ofthe Confederacy in the Mind ofthe White Christian South. Mercer University LamarMemorial Lectures, No. 41. By Eugene D. Genovese. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998, pp. xvi, 180. $24.95.) In these brief but provocative lectures, Eugene Genovese continues his defense of the intellectual life of the Old South. Here, he focuses on the views of the Southern white clergy toward slavery, which they believed to be supported in the Bible. Like a few other scholars, Genovese convincingly demonstrates that the antebellum clergy championed the South's peculiar institution but insisted that it be reformed to bring it into harmony with biblical conceptions of slavery, primarily by encouraging literacy, recognizing slave marriages, and preserving slave families. Genovese also develops a new and intriguing argument that some ministers envisioned slavery ending sometime in the future. They wanted it replaced, he adds, by another form of bound labor, which Genovese refers to as a form of the "Abrahamic household" (5). The clergy never fully explained 252CIVIL WAR HISTORY what the new form would entail, but it is difficult to imagine any system of bound labor that would constitute a "revolutionary program" (115). In any case, the ministers made little headway in reforming, much less replacing , slavery before the Civil War or during it. Genovese makes a convincing , well-documented case that, although Southern ministers supported the war for a slaveholding republic, they did not do so uncritically and repeatedly warned Southerners that they had to conform to God's word on the treatment of their slaves if the Confederacy were to benefit from God's support and achieve victory . When defeat came, the clergy interpreted it as God's punishment for failing to christianize slavery. Reform efforts failed, Genovese concludes, because "the political and economic viability ofthe South or, more precisely of its dominant class, required the retention of property in man" (117). Nevertheless, Genovese adds, he and other historians "have . . . been excessively rigid in" their "formulations" of the guilt thesis; in fact white Southerners did have significant reservations about the institution (xiv). In the midst of his subtle analysis of the clergy's thinking on slavery and defeat, Genovese inserts another, less carefully documented and developed, argument . After the war, southerners' acceptance of liberal capitalism and liberal theology, rather than the heritage of slavery or persistent Christian orthodoxy, led to the horrors of both segregation and imperialism. Genovese admits that religious liberals more often opposed segregation and that the orthodox...