The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

institutional history or the growth of governmental bureaucracy. The
book is complete with the usual apparatus, which I found to be fully
adequate. On a more personal level, I found it a captivating examina-
tion of the role which a handful of individuals have had in shaping the
historical profession in a form acceptable to themselves.
Eastern Montana College ROBERT T. SMITH
The South and the Politics of Slavery, 1828-r856. By William J.
Cooper, Jr. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.
Pp. v +369. Preface, prologue, epilogue, appendices, bibliogra-
phy, index. $22.50.)
Historians have long accepted the fact that slavery was a dominant
force in shaping the course of southern politics in the antebellum peri-
od. Professor Cooper has developed that theme as the central focus of
his monograph, which details the southern struggle between Democrats
and Whigs. He aptly describes the work as "a study of the counterpoint
between continuity and change" (p. xii). From the emergence of the
Whig party in the Jackson period to its demise in 1850 the center of
political debate continued to be slavery. During the same period, how-
ever,. specific issues underwent change, and in particular the sectional
relationships between North and South within the party organizations
altered significantly. This alteration the author finds to be the key to
the ultimate collapse of the two-party system in the decade prior to the
Civil War. Southerners, Whigs and Democrats alike, refused to com-
promise on their demands that the national parties recognize special
southern privileges and considerations, and northern party leaders
could not make this commitment. The author contends that the disin-
tegration of the Whig party by 1856 left southern opponents of the
Democrats without an organization which could effectively exploit the
politics of slavery.
This is by admission almost exclusively a political study, and es-
sentially one written from the perspective of the late antebellum peri-
od. In only one chapter does the author concede that economic forces
may have played a significant role in southern party division. Rather
he contends that slavery dominated over all public issues in the period
between 183o and 186o. Although he amasses much evidence from
contemporary newspapers and manuscript collections to develop his
thesis, this reviewer is left with lingering doubts. Antebellum southern

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed October 1, 2014.