The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

the best memoir of his friend. Of Lowell he seemed in awe,
and he could not understand Howells' coolness toward him,
nor Stoddard's, in later years. He overrated Stedman as a poet,
perhaps because he was so catholic a critic. Had these letters
been arranged chronologically, instead of by collections, they
would have given a better focused picture of Hayne, but the
present arrangement enables the reader to study to advantage
the relations with a dozen representative men of letters of a
somewhat barren literary period. The editorial work is excellent.
Southern Methodist University
John Sharp Williams: Planter-Statesman of the Deep South.
By George Coleman Osborn. Baton Rouge (Louisiana State
University Press), 1943. Pp. xvi+501. Illustrations, bibli-
ography, index. $4.00.
John Sharp Williams was born at Memphis, Tennessee, July
30, 1854. In June of 1870, at the age of fifteen, he entered The
University of the South at Sewanee, but he was expelled after
six months. A few weeks later he matriculated at the University
of Virginia, where he remained through the regular session
in the Summer of 1873, emerging as a Phi Beta Kappa, but
without a degree. He later studied at Heidelberg University
for eight months and for more than a year at a branch of
Heidelberg at Dijon, France, during which time he traveled
through many of the countries of Europe. Williams had decided
on a career in politics, and, realizing that a legal education was
a necessary preparation, he entered the law school of the Uni-
versity of Virginia, where he received his law degree in 1877,
one year after his return from Europe.
The biographer of John Sharp Williams had a difficult task.
In the first place, he had to write from difficult sources, mainly
the Williams Papers and the Congressional Record. That it is
nearly impossible to write history from such sources need
be pointed out only to those who have not attempted it.
Men frequently write one way and act another. For instance,
Williams wrote a number of letters to Woodrow Wilson in which
he roundly condemned the Federal Trade Commission but gave
it wholehearted support on the floor of the Senate.
The second obstacle was more formidable than the first. The
public career of Williams was confined to a long period of


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 28, 2016.

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