The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978

Book Reviews
ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Wealth and Power in Antebellum Texas. By Randolph B. Campbell
and Richard G. Lowe. (College Station: Texas AgM University
Press, 1977. Pp. xv+ 183. Map, figures, tables, appendices, bibliog-
raphy, index. $14.50.)
In recent years increased attention has been focused upon the distri-
bution of wealth in antebellum America. Studies by Edward Pessen,
Lee Soltow, Robert E. Gallman, Stuart Blumin, Whitman Ridgway,
and others have raised serious questions about the egalitarian ideal of
pre-Civil War America. Now Professors Randolph B. Campbell and
Richard G. Lowe of North Texas State University, members of the new
school of historical quantification, or "cliometrics," have placed ante-
bellum Texas under the microscope of statistical analysis and have
raised similar questions for the Ldne Star state. Their conclusion that
"there was a high degree of inequality in the distribution of wealth
among the entire free population of antebellum Texas" (p. 135), while
not totally surprising in view of the studies referred to above, must
cause some revisions in previously held concepts about economic op-
portunity in the period of early statehood.
Campbell and Lowe base their findings upon social and economic
data for o,ooo Texas families taken from the manuscript returns of the
185o and i86o United States censuses. This information, buttressed by
data from real and personal property tax rolls from the state archives,
provides a composite view of wealth in antebellum Texas. For com-
parative purposes the authors divide the state into four major geo-
graphic regions.
The authors find that real property, personal property, slave proper-
ty, and total wealth in the state were concentrated in the hands of a
small minority (less than io percent of the total population). The de-
gree of concentration was even greater in urban areas than rural areas,
and southerners generally were wealthier than northerners, who in turn
were wealthier than foreigners. The average slaveholder was ten times
wealthier than the average non-slaveholder. Contrary to the earlier
views of the Frank L. Owsley school, the authors found that slave-
holders in Texas increased their percentage of ownership of improved

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 81, July 1977 - April, 1978. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101205/. Accessed March 30, 2015.