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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Revews

bursts, the Lincoln County War and the Colfax County War. His six maps are
helpful, and his thirty illustrations, from contemporary photographs to Fred-
eric Remington sketches, enrich the book. Monroe Billington has done honor
to his subject and to himself. Here is a significant, long-neglected chapter in
New Mexico's history: how the black regulars helped make the West safe for
white civilization.
Pittsburg (Kansas) State Universzty DUDLEY T. CORNISH
Simple Decency & Common Sense. By Linda Reed. (Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press, 1991. Pp. xxvii+ 257. Chronology, preface, acknowledg-
ments, introduction, conclusion, bibliographical essay, appendix, notes,
index, black-and-white photographs. $29.q5.)
The term "Southern liberalism" may seem an oxymoron, especially at a time
when the word liberal evokes opprobrium and misrepresentation. Thus it is
particularly admirable that Linda Reed, a member of the department of history
at the University of Houston, has chosen to examine the role of Southern lib-
erals in the civil rights movement. She focuses on the Southern conference
movement as exemplified by the Southern Conference for Human Welfare
(SCHW) and the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF). After ex-
ploring the New South background and origins of the movement, she identifies
the organizations' composition and leadership as well as their agenda and leg-
acy. The result is an informative and sympathetic survey of a vital dimension
of the modern quest for racial, social, and economic equality.
Arranged in nine chapters with a particularly illuminating chronology of
relevant events and developments, the work draws on an array of primary and
secondary sources, including the papers of SCHW and SCEF and related or-
ganizations, oral interviews with various participants, government documents,
newspapers, and numerous monographs and specialized studies. The title's
themes recur frequently in the correspondence and documents of the move-
ment and represent its central challenges and program throughout its volatile
existence. The author seeks to demonstrate the important roles played by
Southern white liberals and also describes the significant performances of black
advocates for SCHW and SCEF.
Internal dissension as well as external pressures ultimately shattered the
movement. SCHW disbanded a decade after its 1938 founding. From its cre-
ation in 1946, SCEF managed to endure into the 196os, when its efforts against
racism gained momentum in the modern civil rights struggle. Red-batming dur-
ing the anti-communist hysteria of the 194os and 195os plagued the move-
ment. While the author summarizes the crucial elements in the attacks, more
attention to the chilling effect of the Cold War and its surrounding fears would
clarify the difficulties liberals encountered.
Reed's comparative analysis of abolitionists, populists, and progressive era
muckrakers presents a comprehensive historical perspective for her narrative
of the Southern conference movement. By combining biographical sketches
and institutional evolution, Reed achieves a revealing treatment of her subject.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 4, 2016.

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