The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969

Book Reviews

could not possibly have accomplished all the necessary research in
seven lifetimes. The editor also summarizes, in excellent fashion, all
of the scholarship attempting to establish the identities of the various
writers. The reviewer predicts rewarding future results in this area
of literary detective labor, possibly because of the stimulus provided
by the publication of this volume.
Professor Anderson's carefully worded conclusion is perhaps an un-
derstatement: "The minor humorists made an important contribution
to the humor of the Old Southwest, which, in turn, contributed to
the rise of realism in American literature." The authors of "The Harp
of a Thousand Strings," or of "That Big Dog Fight at Meyer's" (by
my old favorite "Obe Oilstone"), or of "A Quarter Race in Kentucky"
may not have been so minor after all-at least to the social historian.
Tulane University WILLIAM R. HOGAN
King Cotton and. His Retainers. By Harold D. Woodman. Lexington
(University of Kentucky Press), 1968. Pp. xiv+386. Illustrations,
appendix, bibliographical note, index. $9.75.
Professor Woodman's study is a laudable attempt to depart from
the customary polemics on the operation of the cotton trade in the
South. Instead, he has chosen to examine the actual workings of the
middlemen in the industry, especially the often-maligned cotton fac-
tors. Delving widely into the personal and business correspondence of
the members of the cotton factorage system, Professor Woodman man-
ages to clear away many of the myths that have surrounded this aspect
of southern economic history. He convincingly demonstrates, for in-
stance, that the cotton factors were not responsible for the economic
ills of the region, but were trapped, like the cotton planters, in an
economic dependence on the North.
Despite the strengths of the book, and the author's prodigious re-
search, there are several weaknesses which prevent the volume from
fulfilling the promise of its title. The reader is never certain whether
the book is intended as an acquittal of the cotton factors, an economic
analysis of the shifting fortunes of the middlemen, or a comment on
the place of cotton in the southern economy. Professor Woodman skips
from topic to topic and when confronted with the need for some all-
embracing conclusion falls back on the comforting assertion that cot-
ton was not king but only a limited monarch. On occasion, Professor

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/. Accessed April 25, 2015.