The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 214
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
"Dynasty," a small network of opportunistic-and frequently related-
politicians. A decade later it had become closely connected to the cotton
economy of the Deep South and possessed a functioning two-party po-
litical system. Woods's analysis of that transition and its ramifications
for the secession crisis in Arkansas resembles Walter L. Buenger's re-
cent work on Texas, in that he emphasizes that the flow of emigrants
and slaves from the Deep South into southern and eastern Arkansas
during the 185os changed the character of the state's economy and
politics. Arkansans had rejected disunion during the debate over the
Compromise of 1850. By 186o, however, even though less than 20 per-
cent of her residents owned slaves and despite the fact that the percent-
age of the population composed of slaves ranked second to last among
the future Confederate states, she finally seceded from the Union be-
cause a majority of Arkansans had come to believe that their interests
matched those of residents of the Lower South. By then, Arkansas poli-
tics were based not on personalities and blind party loyalty but on geog-
raphy and economics. In the hill country of the northwest, poor non-
slaveholders born in the Upper South opposed secession; predictably,
planters and small farmers in the south and east-Democrats and
Whigs alike-favored joining the Confederacy.
Much of what Woods argues is not new, but his is the first mono-
graph to methodically explore Arkansas's road to secession. His tradi-
tional sources are ably implemented by quantitative examinations of in-
migration and voting patterns. His themes are far more elaborate than
the brief summary above indicates, and he maintains a solid grip on the
rather complicated and fluid array of political factions that rose and fell
in Arkansas throughout the 1850os.
Two problems mar Woods's study. First of all, his prose and organiza-
tion tend to be redundant. Every caucus, campaign, and election seems
to mark some stage in the transition or a turning point in the realign-
ment process; constant reiteration muddies rather than clarifies the
theme of the book. In addition, although Woods offers a few pages on
wartime politics and dissent in Arkansas and briefly refers to events
during Reconstruction, he unfortunately chooses not to examine how
the newly realigned political system performed under the pressures of
disunion and the difficulties of reunion. Despite the usefulness of such
an approach, that was not Woods's object; his work nevertheless re-
mains a useful and thoughtful contribution to the historical literature
on Arkansas and secession.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/241/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.