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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

tions, Cutler wanted to specify in one place all the letters that had
been published.
These letters fully reveal Polk's political life. Practically all of his
intellectual, physical, and emotional being was devoted to politics. It
took that dedication for Polk to act as leader of the Tennessee Demo-
cratic party. The letters make abundantly clear that the Democrats
were plagued by factionalism, caused in large part by the conflicting
claims of the John C. Calhoun loyalists and those, headed by Polk,
committed to former president Martin Van Buren. Polk's great mis-
sion was to keep the Democrats together so they might wrest their state
from the Whigs in the state contest of 1843 and hold it in the 1844
presidential election. Listening to complaints, mediating quarrels, ad-
vising on legislative tactics, worrying about the party press, Polk's
devotion and energy enabled him to fill his demanding role. The de-
mands increased with the governor's race in 1843, which came with
another herculean campaign lasting from March to August and stretch-
ing from the Mississippi to the Appalachians.
While thorough on Polk as politician, these letters, like those in
the previous volume, provide only fleeting glimpses of anything else.
Plantation operations and personal finances remain shrouded, except
for occasional discussions of difficulties Polk encountered in arranging
loans. Once again the correspondence underscores Sarah Childress
Polk as a political partner. She read and reported on her husband's
political mail; Polk even assigned her to reconcile Democratic wran-
gles in their home county.
All of Polk's efforts were aimed at winning-being elected governor
in 1843. He believed that his victory would prove that Van Buren
could win in the slave states and insure his own vice-presidential
nomination. But he lost. When this volume ends, Polk's career was at
a low point. His loss seemed to undermine both his and Van Buren's
electability. Still he would not "indulge in a desponding feeling" (p.
331). And he was on the verge of his greatest triumph.
Louisiana State University WILLIAM J. COOPER, JR.
East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio. By Ricardo Romo. (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1983. Pp. xii+22o. Preface, acknowl-
edgments, notes, tables, maps, index. $22.50, cloth; $8.95, paper.)
At no other time in Chicano history have immigrants so dominated
the Mexican experience in the United States as between the turn of the


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 28, 2015.