Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The March of the Iron Men: A Social History of Union Through
Invention. By Roger Burlingame. (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1938. Pp. xvi, 500. Price $3.75.)
Union was not achieved in 1787 with the adoption of the Con-
stitution; it was not attained under Jefferson, nor even under
Jackson. It did not come until 1865 with the close of the Civil
War. Real unity was not possible until after the middle of the
nineteenth century, because the various elements that made up
the United States were too scattered and local interests were too
strong. It was not until after inventions had shortened the dis-
tances and bound the minds of the people together that real union
was possible. Had independence come a century earlier rather
than on the eve of great technological changes, union might not
have been attained. It was invention, technological advance, that
made possible the transformation of the federation of states into
The term invention is rather broadly used in this volume. It
is employed to indicate the bringing into practical use of a new
agency like the stock company as well as the construction of a
mechanical device like Whitney's cotton gin. The book covers the
European background of American settlement, the Colonial Pe-
riod, and it traces the history of invention through the Civil
War. It is not a technical history of invention; it is concerned
with the social conditions that produced inventions and with their
Mr. Burlingame writes in a simple, clear, and straightforward
manner. His book is readable and interesting throughout. The
author states that the work is based largely on original sources.
The footnotes are ample, but there are not too many of them.
Abundant illustrations make the book very attractive. A rather
extensive bibliography is appended.
It is certainly true that invention has had tremendous effects
on our development as a nation. It is impossible to imagine the
course our history might have taken without them. The printing
press and the stock company made settlement in the new world
possible. The Pennsylvania rifle may have been the deciding
factor in the American Revolution. Benjamin Franklin was the
father of present-day technical America. He dreamed of her pos-
sibilities, and helped to make a beginning toward their realization.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 43, July 1939 - April, 1940. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101111/. Accessed July 23, 2014.