The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

various secession bodies. In a limited number of pages the author
presents a vast array of political background, economic consider-
ations, and similar influences that tended to guide secession efforts.
While the important traditional factors are included, there is
little space left for necessary interpretation and evaluation of the
strength of these forces. In fact, where exposition of them is
offered, it usually appears in the highly informative footnotes.
The real heart of the work is devoted to a series of statistical
studies of the men who voted on the secession ordinances. Using
manuscript returns of the Eighth Census (1860), Wooster has
carefully extracted the basic personal data on all but 79 of the
1859 men who led the way in considering disunion. In addition,
the author has run similar analyses on groups voting pro and con
on the secession question, and on the various factions (Condi-
tional Unionists, Co-operationists, and Immediate Secessionists)
represented in the meeting. The statistical portion of the study
represents many months of arduous labor spent in collecting the
information from census returns, and tabulating averages and
medians with obvious great care. Certainly the author has pin-
pointed the overall membership and the main sub-groupings of
the conventions as far as numerical analyses can go. The reader
cannot but wonder how far such matters as age, slave holdings,
and profession went in shaping the individual's view on secession;
yet, in the absence of conclusive evidence on voting motives,
the book's results must serve as a guide to voting trends.
In presenting the results of his statistical studies, it is unfor-
tunate that the author did not spell out concrete definitions or
establish positive limits to such categories as "wealthy," "young,"
and "small planter-lawyer group." Generalizations on age cate-
gories seem especially questionable when Tennessee (average
42.3, median 43) is characterized as "middle aged," Texas (aver-
age 40.3, median 40) is described as "an early middle age" group,
Mississippi's median of 42 is declared to be "young," and Ken-
tucky (average 41.3, median 40) is observed to be both "early
middle-age" and "basically middle-aged."
The weakest part of the book is the overly cautious "Conclu-
sions." Here, the author attempts to show the overall fruits of the
study, but he is so careful to qualify his statements and to cite
exceptions to his generalizations that the findings of the book are


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 25, 2016.

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