The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984 Page: 339
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industry; William S. McFeely's reassessment of Amos T. Akerman,
the Georgian who, as attorney general, prosecuted the Klan; and
Robert D. Pope's rather meandering examination of late nineteenth-
century southern biography. Literary themes are treated in Tilden G.
Edelstein's revealing study of the changing portrayal of Othello on the
American stage and in Willie Lee Rose's evaluation of the cultural
significance of four famous novels about the South. Finally, Vincent
P. DeSantis takes on one of Woodward's most controversial theses, the
bargain of 1877, and rebuts it, though somewhat tentatively, by argu-
ing that Hayes had decided to remove the troops well before the 1876
election and the ensuing deals had taken place.
Insightful and illuminating though all these essays are, none of
them, at least in the opinion of this reviewer, makes quite the scholar-
ly contribution of the last four. In a most perceptive and original
essay on ideology and race in American history, Barbara J. Fields
criticizes the way historians have treated race and argues that it was
neither a physical fact nor an immutable central theme, but rather
that it functioned, and still does, as an ideology that changes accord-
ing to specific historical circumstances and the needs of particular
social groups. Also important is Lawrence N. Powell's analysis of
Republican factionalism during Reconstruction. While not denying
explanations for the party's factional tendencies pointed out by pre-
vious historians, Powell suggests that more emphasis should be placed
on the desperate need of the carpetbaggers to earn a livelihood from
politics. Because of this dependency, they tried to hold onto office for
as long as possible and thus made patronage such an all-consuming
preoccupation that it ultimately destroyed the party.
Steven Hahn's study of the fight during the 188os over laws to fence
in stock is another significant essay. This struggle, he claims, pitted
small landowners, defending a communal view of property, against
the planter class and the encroachment of market relations. A decade
later, the interests and issues stirred into existence by the fence-law
controversy would play a formative role in the emergence of popu-
lism. And finally, J. Mills Thornton's study of the fiscal policies of
the Reconstruction governments offers a provocative explanation for
the defeat of the Republicans. He argues that it was not so much the
party's racial policies that accounted for its downfall as its shifting of
the tax base from slaves to land and its failure to provide increased
services to small landowners, for this provoked the latter's opposition
and swung them decisively against the Republicans.
Region, Race, and Reconstruction is coherent, always interesting,
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984, periodical, 1983/1984; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/m1/391/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.