The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985

Book Reviews

The South Returns to Congress: Men, Economic Measures, and Inter-
sectional Relationships, z868-1879. By Terry L. Seip. (Baton
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983. Pp. xii+322. Ac-
knowledgments, introduction, maps, tables, bibliographic essay,
index. $25-)
With this excellent first book, Terry Seip, associate professor of his-
tory at the University of Southern California, has closed one of the
most crucial gaps in the literature. He has produced the first systematic
analysis of the 251 Republicans and Democrats who represented the
ten reconstructed southern states from their readmission to Congress
until March, 1879. Some of his findings merely confirm what was al-
ready believed about the personal characteristics of the typical senator
or representative of each party (except for the fact that some of the
Republicans were black, they came from reasonably comparable
backgrounds), the dominance of Reconstruction issues in determining
partisan allegiance, and the conduct of southern elections (the im-
placability of the Democrats was such that politics could be seen as
the continuation of the Civil War by other means).
As Seip rightly points out, the Reconstruction years were also a time
of intense debate over a wide range of economic issues: debt service,
taxes and tariffs, currency, banking, internal improvements, railroad
subsidies. It is here that Seip makes his great contribution. Drawing
on material from his doctoral dissertation, written under the guidance
of the late T. Harry Williams, he lays to rest, once and for all, the
unfounded assumption of the hypothesis offered by Charles H. Beard,
Mary R. Beard, and Howard K. Beale, that because the southern Re-
publicans were the creatures of northeastern politicians, they did the
bidding of northeastern business interests. In fact, on issue after issue,
carpetbaggers and scalawags alike voted in behalf of southern eco-
nomic development, in the process repeatedly disregarding the views
of their Yankee benefactors. Indeed, because they were less encum-
bered by the ideological baggage of Jacksonian Democracy, on the
tariff, expansion of the currency, and internal improvements they had
a better record in this respect than their opponents. It was charac-
teristic that during the debates over the Texas &: Pacific Railroad, no
sectional-party group was more consistently in favor of the proposed
subsidies than the southern Republicans. After 1871 northern Re-
publicans and northern Democrats were about equally opposed. The
southern Democrats, too, were increasingly inclined to reject the


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 31, 2016.

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