The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

political strength that the People's party had achieved in Oklahoma in
the 189os as the contending party factions vied for dominance in terri-
torial affairs. Worth Robert Miller considers this complex and often
tawdry process from the perspective of those politicians who carried
the standard of agrarian reform.
Miller's book is based on a thorough grounding in the abundant
newspaper sources of the time and an exploration of some of the more
limited manuscript materials on Oklahoma politics. One strength of the
study is Miller's mastery of the literature on populism across the nation.
The bibliographical essay about secondary sources on the People's
party is an incisive capsule review of a large and controversial topic.
Miller's use of quantitative methods to shed light on Oklahoma voting
patterns is also well done. As a result, the book will be of continuing
value for future scholars working on the territory.
Miller links Oklahoma's agrarian radicalism to "a thoroughly Ameri-
can egalitarian tradition that stretched back through the democracy of
Jefferson, Jackson, and Lincoln to the ideology of the American Revo-
lution" (p. xi). There is no lack of intellectual analysis and synthesis in
Oklahoma Populism, but it often appears that Miller is attributing greater
interpretive significance to the maneuvers of frontier politicians than
their actual activities warrant. In their performance in the territorial
legislature and in smoke-filled rooms, the Populists seem to have been
as opportunistic and on occasion as unprincipled as their Republican
and Democratic rivals. The style of imitative and entrepreneurial terri-
torial politics that Howard R. Lamar, Earl S. Pomeroy, and others iden-
tified elsewhere in the West in the late nineteenth century deserved
more attention for Oklahoma than Miller gives it.
Other researchers on Oklahoma Territory should examine the papers
of Benjamin Harrison and especially Grover Cleveland for as yet un-
used sources on politics in the 189os. The legal, judicial, and land-office
appointment records in the National Archives should also prove re-
warding. Miller has performed a valuable service, a century after the
land rush of 1889, in reopening Oklahoma Territory as a field for intel-
lectual cultivation. His book will stand as the best introduction to the
achievements and limits of Oklahoma populism.
University of Texas at Austin LEWIs L. GOULD
History ofMarfa and Presidio County, Volumes I and II. By Cecilia Thomp-
son. (Austin: Nortex Press, 1985. Pp. Volume I: xvi+392; Volume
II: v+633. Acknowledgments, foreword, preface, maps, illustra-
tions, bibliography, index. $53.)


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 24, 2016.

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