The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 488

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

results. He has recorded the events of each day in a dull, diarylike, almost
outline form, seldom suggesting the intense bitterness and rivalries which
produced this impasse. Spaced between the convention days and plenary
sessions he presents short topical essays-for example, on the development
of government, on constitutions of Texas, and on political leadership-
which clearly demonstrate that Wolff is neither a writer nor an historian.
This book is, therefore, most unsatisfactory--at best a propaganda piece
urging Texans to pass the constitutional provisions set forth by the Sixty-
Fourth Legislature.
Yet even more disappointing, Challenge of Change does not vivify what
really happened at the I974 constitutional convention. The delegates
emerge merely as names-lifeless and without personality; the fierce debates
seem vapid or are almost totally omitted; and an analysis of why the dele-
gates failed to ratify a constitution remains submerged in verbiage, forcing
the reader to surmise the difficulties. Wolff, therefore, has written a work
that is as productive as the I974 constitutional convention.
Texas Christian University BEN PROCTER
The Court of Private Land 'Claims. By Richard Wells Bradfute. (Albu-
querque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975. Pp. iii+261. Bibli-
ography, charts, index. $8.50 [paper].)
Students of American legal history have long ignored those specialized
judicial bodies which Congress has created to handle particular, and often
highly technical, types of litigation. One such tribunal was the Court of
Private Land Claims, which between 1891 and i904 struggled through
perhaps the most tangled thicket in American law, the confused multitude
of hoary Mexican and Spanish land grants in Arizona and New Mexico.
Richard Wells Bradfute has recorded the history of that court in what is
truly a pioneering work.
Unfortunately his book is not the major contribution which it might
have been. Bradfute examines the organization and operation of the Court
of Private Land Claims with painstaking thoroughness and analyzes most
of the cases with which that body dealt, some of them more than once.
His treatment of legal issues is, if anything, too complete. But, despite dis-
cussing at great length what the court did, he says almost nothing about
the significance of its work. The author leaves his reader wondering about
the economic and social consequences of the decisions he discusses. Because
Bradfute has failed to go beyond his rich legal sources into the diaries,
private correspondence, and newspapers which might have indicated how


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. ( accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.