The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 92
Southwest Historical Quarterly
author's upbeat reportage-they were usually achievements if not
In this perspective the Southwest emerges not as a vibrant frontier
but as a raw wedge of capitalism. Owners of mines, agricultural estates,
railroads, and other corporations controlled the working places, the
courts, the regular press, and the election machinery. They met a serious
challenge, at many times and places, from a socialist movement rich
with fifty newspapers, talented writers and speakers, dedicated and ef-
fective agitators, grass-roots organizations and-for a moment-loyal
grass-roots followings among the usually inefficacious lower classes.
Socialism competed with fundamentalist religion in offering an escape
from harsh farm tenantry and industrial serfdom.
Socialists survived some battles, and won some local elections. Socialist
grass-roots campaigning indeed helped socialist candidate Gene Debs
gain 17 percent of the Oklahoma vote in the 1912 election. Subse-
quently, these radical leaders were repressed because they did pose an
electoral threat to the governing Democratic party, because of fear of
Wobbly (I.W.W.-Industrial Workers of the World) violence, and be-
cause World War I made pacifism and German accents treasonous.
Still Oklahoma socialists helped fight the Ku Klux Klan in the 192os,
and socialism bobbed up in Arkansas and elsewhere during the 1930os
particularly in the form of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. Al-
though these socialists inspired the rhetoric of some successful grass-
roots politicians such as Huey Long, they apparently did not create
a generation of effective mainstream liberals as did Minnesota's Farmer-
Labor party. There is evidence that the fear of socialism did make lib-
erals of some contemporaries including Woodrow Wilson and Franklin
D. Roosevelt and of course the same fear made other politicians rigid
The book has a graceful and engaging style. It draws from socialist
and regular newspapers, from interviews with survivors and acquaint-
ances, from memoirs, and from many other sources.
Iowa State University DoN F. HADWIGER
After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nation-
alism. By Paul D. Escott. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1978. Pp. xiv+295. Bibliography, index. $17.50.)
For over one hundred years historians have debated the causes for the
failure of the southern confederacy. Some have attributed the defeat
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/112/ocr/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.