The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 216
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of a perpetual union, controversies over slavery, Republicans and sec-
tional crisis, and the causes and consequences of the Civil War.
In "The Concept of a Perpetual Union," Stampp concludes that the
concept, though early defied by anti-Federalists and nullifiers, sur-
prisingly did not attain maturity until forty years after the Constitu-
tion had been adopted. Vindicated on the battlefields of the Civil War,
it won sanction by the Supreme Court in Texas v. White (1869). Ex-
amining historians' controversies over slavery, Stampp repudiates
Stanley M. Elkin's claim that "Sambo"-docile, lazy, childlike-was
the typical slave, and Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman's
claims that slavery was profitable alike to owner and slave, efficient
and productive, respectful of the slave family. Stampp suggests that the
slave personality was more complex and autonomous than the Sambo
stereotype and that slavery was not the economically rational, benign
institution described in Time on the Cross.
Three essays are included in a section on the Republicans and the
sectional crisis. To test some historians' skepticism about Republican
commitment to antislavery and racial justice, in a newly published
piece Stampp analyzes the Lincoln-Douglas debates. He concludes that
Republicans, though racist, had a measure of morality toward blacks.
An essay on "The Republican National Convention of 186o" exam-
ines public pressures on the delegates. In "Lincoln and the Secession
Crisis," Stampp stands by his view that Lincoln did not maneuver
the Confederacy into starting a shooting war, but, rather, putting
union above peace, accepted the risk of war.
"The Irrepressible Conflict" is a perceptive, even wise, exploration
of historiography, concluding, "The irrepressible conflict of antebel-
lum years made the war, if not inevitable, at least an understandable
response to its stresses by men and women no more or less wise than
we" (p. 245). A controversial lecture given at the University of Texas
at El Paso, "The Southern Road to Appomattox," completes the book.
Not indifferent to his critics, Stampp resolutely affirms that, "The
fatal weakness of the Confederacy was that not enough of its people
really thought that defeat would be a catastrophe...." (p. 269)
Here we have a useful book, in a sense summarizing Stampp's im-
pressive scholarly achievement. Lucid in exposition, going to the heart
of matters, informed with a broad view of the nature of the historian's
craft, it warrants a wide readership.
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
JAMES A. RAWLEY
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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/m1/250/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.