The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 95
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has a bifurcated focus. Primarily Lander seeks to explain South Caro-
lina's lack of enthusiasm for the Mexican War. He describes how John
C. Calhoun, state governors and congressmen, Waddy Thompson, Jr.,
the Charleston Mercury, and other opinion molders carried on a re-
current dialogue with those South Carolinians who regarded the con-
flict as a romantic experience. The Calhoun group's ambiguous atti-
tudes reflected memories of recent Seminole War difficulties, fears that
war expenditures would engender new protective tariffs, anxieties
over the racial and cultural implications of annexations, beliefs that
acquisitions would be unsuitable for slave labor, and other reserva-
tions. Secondarily Lander provides a narrative of South Carolina's
volunteer "Palmetto regiment" from initial recruitment (a sputtering
process despite the supposed southern military tradition) through
memorial services for regimental commander Pierce M. Butler and
other soldiers when their bodies were shipped home toward the war's
end. He describes the regiment's role from Veracruz to Mexico City,
and shows how logistical failures-which undermined the soldiers'
health and morale before they even left the States-plagued them in
Mexico. Exorbitant casualty and disease losses among the brave but
unseasoned Palmettos exacerbated statewide war weariness.
Lander's conclusions about Calhoun's wartime obstructionism re-
late to the issue of southern nationalism. Lander echoes Charles M.
Wiltse's affirmation of Calhoun's essential unionism by arguing that
Calhoun opposed significant acquisitions of Mexican territory be-
cause he did not want a sectional showdown. Sensitive to the Wilmot
Proviso, Calhoun advocated a defensive-line strategy. His stance won
approval from South Carolinians already skeptical about the war, but
he alienated President James K. Polk by opposing the administration's
Ten-Regiment Bill and its plan to make Thomas Hart Benton a lieu-
tenant general, and also by cooperating with Whigs to ban Washing-
ton Union editor (and Polk mouthpiece) Thomas Ritchie from the
U.S. Senate floor. Lander feels that Calhoun thereby undermined his
own improving chances of succeeding Polk as president. Perhaps. But
it should be noted that Ritchie had been instrumental in turning the
1844 Virginia Democratic convention away from endorsing Calhoun's
presidential aspirations, and Calhoun had been making important
political enemies prior to his wartime obstructionism with his letter
to Richard Pakenham, his position on the Oregon boundary, his sur-
prising approval of federal internal improvements at the Memphis
Commercial Convention of 1845, and his opposition to Polk on pat-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/115/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.