The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Hilliard concludes that plantations were more nearly self-sufficient in food
supply than is generally recognized. The image of the plantation as a highly
specialized producer of cash crops needs to be revised. Regions of food de-
ficiency were detected, mainly in the Lower South, but great local variations
existed, and valid generalizations are difficult to make. Apparently much
of the huge volume of foodstuffs shipped down the Mississippi was con-
sumed in the cities of the Lower South rather than in plantation districts.
This book is splendidly documented, well-indexed, and superbly illus-
trated with some forty skillfully drawn maps. We can all learn a lesson on
the value of cartography to historical research from this book.
A little criticism is also in order. Some table headings fail to indicate
that figures are given in thousands, presenting the unwary reader with the
startling news that Texas had only 3,536 cattle in I860. Moreover, Hil-
liard's extensive use of census statistics is marred by errors in transcription,
as is indicated by a random check of only the Texas figures. Most notably,
Texas is credited with only 330,000 cattle in i85o, while the actual census
total was over 900,000, an error then transmitted into the "cattle per cap-
ita" figures.
All in all, the book is scholarly and informative, recommended for both
professionals and amateurs interested in the South, in "potlikker," corn
pone, and roast 'possum.
North Texas State University TERRY G. JORDAN
Slavery and the Annexation of Texas. By Frederick Merk. (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1972. Pp. xiii+ 29o. Index. $8.95.)
This is the first full-scale study of Texas annexation to appear since the
publication in 1911 of Justin H. Smith's Annexation of Texas. Merk's new
book could serve as a companion piece to his Fruits of Propaganda in the
Tyler Administration (1971 ), and the interested reader ought probably to
examine them sequentially. Slavery and the Annexation of Texas revives the
long-somnolent slave-conspiracy thesis, stressing the role of the "slavocracy"
(a term used by Merk) in promoting and achieving annexation.
Due partly to the opposition of northern antislavery interests and partly
to vociferous objections from Mexico, annexationists had not received en-
ergetic support from the four presidents who served between 1836 (when
Texas gained independence) and 1843. But in the spring of 1843 Abel P.
Upshur, Virginian and proslavery extremist, replaced Daniel Webster as
secretary of state in the Tyler Administration, providing the catalyst that
touched off events culminating two years later in annexation. Upshur and

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed December 28, 2014.