The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 482
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
scholars are effectively summarized by the editors in their introductory
remarks to both major sections.
The focus of The Southern Common People is, as the title implies,
the South's silent majority-that vast, amorphous body of people be-
tween the upper and lower reaches of society usually described as
"yeomen" or "middle-class." Readers of this book will discover, in
specific terms, just who some of those people were. Their names will,
for the most part, not be familiar, but their history has universal as-
pects: home, family, work, the quest for betterment, some successes,
many brutal defeats, survival. This collective history from the bottom
up about people in the middle shows that the silent majority wasn't
silent at all, or passive either. People thought, came together, acted
together. What these essays reveal is their variety: Julie Roy Jeffrey on
women in the Southern Farmers' Alliance; Dale Newman on textile
workers in the Piedmont; Edward Magdol on crime as class action in
North Carolina after the Civil War; the herdsmen of Forrest McDon-
ald and Grady McWhiney; patterns of town and county in nineteenth-
century Georgia by Frank J. Huffman, Jr.; and more.
What these essays also reveal is enough persistent conflict to make us
all wonder about "the Solid South." Walter J. Fraser, Jr., for example,
describes constant and by no means mild conflict between officers and
troops of South Carolina regiments during the Revolution, and sug-
gests that serious class antagonisms following the war were ameliorated
only by the safety valve of migration to available lands in the West. In
Vernon Burton's discussion of race and Reconstruction in Edgefield
County, South Carolina, and Lawrence C. Goodwyn's analysis of Pop-
ulist dreams and Negro rights in Grimes County, Texas, the achieve-
ment of local consensus is marked by violence and murder-hegemony
based on selective liquidation and systematic mass intimidation, as in
the Republic of South Africa, rather than by agreement or equitable
The Southern Common People is a fit package, with plenty of food
for plenty of thought. A paperback edition would facilitate the class-
room circulation it deserves.
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/542/: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.