The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977

Book Reviews

Book Notes
Laredo and the Rio Grande Frontier. By J. B. Wilkinson. (Austin: Pember-
ton Press, 1975- PP. 456. Illustrations, index, bibliography, notes. $14.95.)
Laredo and the Rio Grande Frontier, the publisher tells us on the dust
jacket, grew out of Houston advertising executive J. B. Wilkinson's lifelong
interest in and "love for the land and people" of the lower Rio Grande area.
Although the author attempted to provide "new insights on events, people and
an era that shaped Texas and Mexican history" (dust jacket), what has
emerged is largely a synthesis of previously published material. The volume
covers the period from Jos6 de Escand6n's first colonies to the election, in
1920, of President Alvaro Obreg6n of Mexico. Over half the book (247
pages) concentrates on the sixty-five year period from 1835 to 1900, with
emphasis on Texas independence, the Mexican War period, and the Civil War
and post-war border disturbances. A quarter of the work is devoted to the nine
decades before the Texas Revolution while the 1900 to 192o period is covered
in a scant forty-three pages. The book's major contribution, a detailed and
interest glimpse of daily life in the Laredo area during the Mexican years 18 Io
to 1835, is unfortunately marred by lack of specific citations. The volume will
be of little interest to scholars, but despite its lack of balance it should provide
entertaining and informative reading for those unfamiliar with the interesting
history of the region.
University of Texas, Arlington SANDRA L. MYRES
Correspondence of James K. Polk (Volume III) [1835-1836]. Edited by
Herbert Weaver. (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1975. Pp.
ix+836. Index. $25.)
This volume spans two important years in the career of James K. Polk. By
1835 his tenacity, circumspection, and unwavering allegiance to Andrew Jack-
son and the Democratic party had brought him to the fringe of the innermost
circles of the party, and in December of that year he was elected speaker of
the house. The following year, 1836, would be most eventful: a presidential
election; a rupture in the Jacksonian coalition; the revolution in Texas; the
House flooded with abolitionist petitions, and responding with the "gap rule."
But to Polk and his correspondents neither issues nor events mattered much.
The highest principle was party loyalty. It was violated by John Bell and Hugh
Lawson White, exciting epistolary wrath among the faithful. One would think
that Henry Clay would receive his share of abuse from these Democrats, but
he is mentioned only 23 times in the entire volume, whereas there are more
than 2oo references to White and almost that many to Bell.
Of the 690 letters (selected from I,ooo examined by the editors), 184 are
summarized. About one hundred relate to family matters, the remainder to
politics. Annotations are helpful though not copious, the editing unobtrusive.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed July 12, 2014.