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Reviews499 Reconstruction, on the other hand, witnessed the emergence of capitalist relations in the plantation order of central Georgia. Planters were unwittingly transforming themselves into an agrarian bourgeoisie by supporting such capitalistic notions as private property and the sanctity of labor contracts. The vicissitudes of the postwar cotton economy and the repressive measures of white planters made freedpeople into rural proletarians. Reidy's book reflects the strengths and weaknesses of a Marxist interpretation of nineteenth-century southern history. The work provides an analytical framework that is comprehensive and highly persuasive. It makes well-informed and meaningful comparisons to other post-emancipation societies such as nineteenth-century Brazil, Cuba, and Russia. Yet the emphasis on relations of production and class conflict does not fully explain the cultural dynamics of southern slave society. The issue of institutions is a case in point. Undoubtedly, as Reidy claims, planter interest strongly colored the churches and academies of antebellum central Georgia. Education and local government became arenas of conflict between whites of different classes. But institutions possess an internal dynamic and independent agency of their own and can be used as effective bulwarks against oppression, as evidenced by the black schools and churches during Reconstruction. The problems of a hegemonic interpretation also arise in Reidy's treatment of ideology . He presents the social thought of white planters as reflective of their class interests. While this interpretation contains an element of truth, it tends to depict ideology too simply as derivative of the material relations of production. (Proslavery thought, for example , was a far more complex and dynamic set of ideas than Reidy's description of the writings of Howell Cobb and T. R. R. Cobb suggests.) It should be emphasized, however, that Reidy generally avoids a simple reductionist interpretation, carefully qualifies his arguments when necessary, and admirably recognizes the complexity of social change and development. In the process of telling this compelling story of planters, yeoman, and ex-slaves in the transformation of the cotton plantation South, Reidy illuminates some of the central themes of southern history. His study of central Georgia underscores the importance of the frontier in shaping the southern slave society and emphasizes the process of elite formation in southern history. Reidy's depiction of the transformation of precapitalist to capitalist labor relations in central Georgia also reinforces the theme of discontinuity in southern history long noted by historian C. Vann Woodward. For its ability to bring to life a cotton plantation region and to relate its story to larger developments in the growth of capitalism, this book is an impressive and significant contribution to southern history. Freedom on the Border: The Seminole Maroons in Florida, the Indian Territory, Coahuila, and Texas. By Kevin Mulroy. Texas Tech University Press, 1993. 246 pp. Cloth, $29.00. Reviewed by James E. Crisp, associate professor of history at North Carolina State University, whose essay "Race, Revolution, and the Texas Republic: Toward a Reinterpretation" appears in The Texas Military Experience. Filled with ironies and incongruities, this book is a tale of epic dimensions about a few hundred rather obscure people—the Seminole maroons. These runaways (and their 500Southern Cultures descendants) from the plantations of the southeastern United States first appear in Kevin Mulroy's narrative as "slaves," yet they were armed, relatively autonomous, and more industrious and prosperous than their ostensible Seminole "masters" in Florida. Living in separate towns under leaders of their own, they never genuinely assimilated with the Semin óles with whom they had sought safety but became their "vassals and allies" in a mutually beneficial relationship. Though their history is enmeshed in the Indian wars of the Southeast and Southwest , the maroons' story, says Mulroy, is more properly understood as "a little-known aspect of the African diaspora." By the time their unwelcome presence on the periphery of the southern slave regime had helped to provoke the First Seminole War in 1818, they had become a distinct ethnic group—with their own language (a Gullah-like "Afro-Seminole") as well as different naming patterns, religious practices, and kinship structures from those of their neighbors. When the government removed the maroons to Indian Territory at the end of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 499-502
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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