Wayne Cutler's descriptions of President James K. Polk's little-known
political excursion into New England during the summer of 1847 has
two very different benefits for the modern reader. On the one hand it
reminds us of the difficulties of travel in the transition period between
coach and train. On the other, it points up Polk's sensitivity to the di-
visive impact of his manifest-destiny program. John S. D. Eisenhower's
essay travels well-known ground in considering relations between the
president and his military commanders. The result is disappointing.
The essay is superficial, thinly researched, and breaks no new ground.
It includes a number of errors, such as the statement that General John
E. Wool was a Whig. Wool was a Democrat who had close ties to the
party leadership in New York and who hoped to be considered for the
party's presidential nomination. The most interesting, and most valu-
able, essay is Miguel E. Soto's study of the ambitions of Mariano Paredes
y Arrillaga and the Monarchist Conspiracy of 1845-1846 as a causal
factor in the war. It forces students of Mexican history (and the war) to
view the actions in Mexico City in a new light. The fourth essay is Doug-
las W. Richmond's selection of excerpts from the letters of Lieutenant
Andrew Trussell of the Second Mississippi Rifles. These excerpts re-
count the realities of occupation duty in northern Mexico during the
months that followed the battle of Buena Vista.
Most collections of essays have limited appeal except to specialists.
This volume may reach a wider audience. The initial three papers con-
sider aspects of social, political, and military history, while the Trussell
letters illuminate a seldom-described socio-political dimension of mili-
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute K. JACK BAUER
John A. Quitman: Old South Crusader. By Robert E. May. (Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1985. Pp. xviii+465. Preface, il-
lustrations, maps, notes, bibliographical essay, index. $40.)
Robert E. May's goal in John A. Quitman: Old South Crusader is to fill a
void in the historical literature of the movement for southern secession.
By offering an account of the life of Mississippi radical John Quitman,
May hopes to present a "more subtle understanding of secessionist mo-
tivation and ideology" (p. xv) than has previously existed. May's "pri-
mary concerns" are to explain Quitman's "radicalization" and to de-
scribe his "contribution to southern secession" (p. xv). Although May is
occasionally overwhelmed by the detail of Quitman's life, he neverthe-
less successfully marshals his sources to create a complete, thoughtful,
and sensitive portrait of this powerful champion of the South.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/. Accessed April 19, 2014.