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134 Canadian Review of American Studies Revue canadienne detudes americaines modernist elements of his formal experiments-for his style is always a performance on the surface, the counterpart of a world of surfaces, where there is no final deep truth. There are, however, many fine aspects of Daniel J.Singal's book, not least of them the shrewdness of his various observations about the novels. Even when one disagrees with a particular interpretation, it is a recurrent pleasure to watch the ingenuity with which he locates an avatar of Faulkner's flamboyant and intimidating great-grandfather, a dominating presence in his psychic life, in almost all the major works. This is a book that deserves to be read, both for its numerous local insights as well as for its provocative attempt to discern a single inclusive structure in Faulkner's work and thought. David H. Evans University alCalgary Craig Banyan and Mary Banyan. DeWitt Clinton and the Rise of the People's Men. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1996. Pp. ix + 285 and appendices. U.S. historians have traditionally argued that deferential politics collapsed in the Jacksonian period under the weight of the commercial revolution, which discredited the aristocracy and ushered in the age of the professional party politician. Recently, however, Glenn Altschuler, Stuart Blumin, and others have concluded that the upper classes enjoyed considerable power within the emerging second party system. Craig and Mary Banyan, in their exhaustively researched biography of DeWitt Clinton, likewise contend that the 1820s witnessed a decisive and successful effort by elites to maintain influence in the rapidly democratizing society. Clinton, they assert, combined conceptions of classical republicanism with a devotion to liberal capitalist society that reconciled the nation's revolutionary heritage with the rapidly commercializing world of the early nineteenth century. Clinton advocated political reform (targeting parties, caucuses, and class legislation as unrepublican), calling for a tiered, localized democracy led by the best men of each community . At the pinnacle, a strong executive would serve as the protector and promoter of the common will. Clinton's resurgence in New York politics in Book Reviews 135 1824, in their analysis, testified to the widespread appeal of this vision among the people of the state. The Banyans attempt to make two major contributions to the literature. First, and most successfully, they demonstrate that Clinton and his elite allies offered the public an alternative to the definition of political democracy promoted by Martin Van Buren and his Bucktail followers. Historians have credited Van Buren with sweeping the vestiges of aristocracy from New York politics with the passage of the new state constitution in 1821. The constitution made nearly all white males over the age of twenty-one eligible to vote, and the Bucktails allegedly became the sole purveyors of democracy through the Republican party. The Bucktail triumph over the Clintonians in 1822 therefore signalled to most scholars the universal acceptance of party over paternalism among electors. The Hanyans, however, question this interpretation. Clinton's apparent demise proved chimerical; instead, they aver, he ably defeated the Bucktails in 1824 by accusing them of monopolizing political power and subduing talent within a rigid system of limited patronage. He called for a new democracy based on a natural aristocracy of the well-bred, the educated, and the commercially successful. If not subverted by party, he reasoned, the people would choose their leaders according to merit and thus avoid the corruption caused by the constant scramble for offices among idle, deceitful, and greedy politicos. This message unified the old guard (Clinton and his peers in their fifties) and young men (in their thirties) who could not expect to gain prominence within a rigid party machinery (dominated by men in their forties). The new middle class provided the backbone of the alliance, which marked, according to the authors, a crucial departure from the deferential politics of the early republic. But the legacy of Clinton's rehabilitation was mixed. On the one hand, the Banyans note, he established the viability of elite leadership within a democratic polity. As a liberal, sober, and judicious executive, he presaged the Whig party's claim to represent the best men in the community as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 134-136
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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