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

Book Reviews

completion. This approach is a fresh and rewarding one that distinguishes
this book from others in the field, and adds a new dimension to a familiar
story, for as the book unfolds the geography of the region emerges from the
haze, the landmarks acquire permanent names, and an assortment of wilder-
ness characters-pirates, renegade Frenchmen, and lost children-take brief
bows in history. Particularly interesting is the treatment of the survivors of
La Salle's expedition who participated in later adventures.
The book is carefully researched. Building on the work of William E.
Dunn, Herbert E. Bolton, and other previous investigators, Weddle re-
examines the documents they used and delves into others. In some instances,
he corrects earlier interpretations. For example, he corrects Carlos E. Cas-
tafieda's identification of the Rio de las Palmas as the Rio Grande, an error
entrenched in The Handbook of Texas and Paul Horgan's Great River.
Over all, this is a scholarly, readable book that along with The San Saba
Mission and San Juan Bautista establishes Robert S. Weddle's current pre-
eminence in the field of the Spanish period of Texas history.
Houston Baptist University MARILYN McADAMS SIBLEY
The Politics of Inertia: The Election of 1876 and the End of Reconstruc-
tion. By Keith Ian Polakoff. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univer-
sity, 1973. Pp. xiv+343. Notes, index. $10.95.)
Any new treatment of the disputed election of 1876 must confront the
imposing monument of C. Vann Woodward's Reunion and Reaction (1951)
with its influential thesis that a sectional bargain between southern and
northern economic interests produced the "Compromise of 1877." Rather
than assaulting Woodward's study, Polakoff envelopes it in a larger argu-
ment that the weaknesses and poor management of the two major parties
brought on a peaceful resolution of the controversy. In the author's view,
the actions of Woodward's capitalists and entrepreneurs were ancillary to
the political maneuvering among the professionals-"the objectives of their
devious negotiations largely coincided with the results the blind force of
inertia was already bringing about in the absence of effective leadership"
(p. xii).
Polakoff's book is a sprightly examination of the contested election, and
students of Gilded Age politics will find much of value in his pages. The
reevaluation of Woodward would be more persuasive had the author exam-
ined the Grenville M. Dodge Papers on which much of Reunion and Re-
action relied. Polakof is impatient with the character and personality of
Rutherford B. Hayes and regards Samuel J. Tilden as the more capable

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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 July 30, 2014.