Copyright © 2003 by the Ohio Historical Society. All rights reserved.
|Alphabetical List of Titles
Architecture in the United States
Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade,
Volumes I and II
Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg
The Collected Works of William Howard
Taft, Volume 4, Presidential Messages to Congress
Du Bois and His Rivals
Ft. Pontchartrain at Detroit: A
Guide to the Daily Lives of Fur Trade and Military Personnel, Settlers,
and Missionaries at French Posts, Volumes I and II
Gods of War, Gods of Peace: How
the Meeting of Native and Colonial Religions Shaped Early America
Holmesville, OhioOur Home Town
North from the Mountains: A Folk
History of the Carmel Melungeon Settlement, Highland County, Ohio
Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries,
Regionalism and Reform: Art and
Class Formation in Antebellum Cincinnati
Rio Grande: From Baptists and Bevo
to the Bell Tower
River of Enterprise
The Romance of Small-Town Chautauquas
Tahquamenon Tales: Experiences of
an Early French
The Vietnam War on Trial: The My
Lai Massacre and the Court-Marial of Lieutenant Calley
Gregory Evans Dowd
Reviewed by John Sugden
Holmesville, Ohio—Our Home Town. By David A. Stallman. (Sugarcreek, Ohio: Carlisle Printing, 2001. x + 164 p.; illustrations, appendix.)
Partly urban, partly rural, Ohio can be described as a geographical place where towns seem to have been laid out about every ten miles. One of these towns, Holmesville, located in the rolling landscape of east central Ohio, is profiled and generously illustrated in this hardbound volume.
The town story is affectionately told by a native son whose boyhood years spanned the 1930s and 1940s. Readers will find the standard pioneer stories followed by a chronological town history woven around such themes as agriculture, education, public improvements, and the Underground Railroad. Personal glimpses of “Life in Our Home Town” include biographies of town notables, daily activities, and appendixes listing 1940 homeowners, residents, businesses and even nicknames. The author’s experiences are, in his words, a metaphor for guiding his daily life.
Stephen C. Gordon
Whatever their economic status, the daughters of Ohio’s early settlers learned to sew. Many demonstrated their skills by creating embroidery samplers, and they have left a rich testament of their way of life. Sue Studebaker began studying Ohio samplers in 1986, and this book is an elegant presentation of her research. More than two-hundred color and black-and-white photos illustrate a variety of patterns and stitches. An introductory section defines the major areas of settlement in the state. The sampler images are organized by county, with information on schools and teachers who would have influenced a girl’s needlework. Studebaker also notes stitching patterns common to certain Ohio regions—for instance, the “W” basket seen in Quaker samplers done at the Waynesville School in Warren County—that might help a collector determine the origin of a sampler.
In the text accompanying the sampler photos, Studebaker includes some details about the girls’ lives and families, giving the reader a tangible sense of the individuals who stitched these canvases.
Architecture in the United States, 1800-1850. By W. Barksdale Maynard. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002. xi + 322p.; illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $50.00.)
For more than a century, students of American architecture have tried to answer an enduring question—just how much of our historic built environment is characteristically American and how much of it represents forms imported from elsewhere? The period of the Young Republic (ca. 1800-1850) is perfect to answer this question, for American building flourished as the young nation expanded westward. Here—from well-established cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston to rural frontier areas like Ohio, and all the way to outposts in California—Americans built at a feverish pace. Were they building original designs or merely copying what was popular in Europe? It does not take W. Barksdale Maynard long to state his thesis that Americans were imitators. In Maynard’s words, “Not only did no uniquely American style arise, but American architecture was, for the most part, cautiously conservative and arguably produced few truly world-class innovations or achievements.” (pp. 58-59) Moreover, it was England’s architecture that American builders copied. In a series of well-developed arguments, Maynard shatters the supposed Americaness of numerous designs—from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of Virginia, to the Greek Revival architecture that supposedly enabled Americans to portray their developing (if conflicted) sense of democracy. In several places, however, Maynard does identify some characteristically American traits, such as the propensity to build using wood, and Americans’ penchant for adopting diverse styles.
Maynard begins with a sub-theme that permeates the entire book—a comparison of two prevailing types of buildings—high style (Girard College, Philadelphia) and low style (Henry David Thoreau’s house at Walden Pond, Massachusetts). Although it might be argued that Maynard places too much emphasis on the high style buildings (which, after all, are featured in most of the written and visual record), he does indeed use many sources—traveler’s accounts, paintings, correspondence—to show how style affected many other types of buildings in America. The result is one of the most significant books written on historic American architecture in the last half century. Using evidence gleaned from the historic record (some of it well known, but most newly discovered, even delightfully obscure), Maynard provides a tightly organized but far-ranging interpretation of American architecture. I should also note that this book is not only well written, but beautifully designed and flawlessly reproduced. Its illustrations—virtually all of them historical—simply sparkle. The innovative placement of color images (most of them paintings and lithographs from the period) helps make this book shine.
Criticisms? I believe that Maynard may be incorrect when he states that America in the early nineteenth century was racially homogeneous (p. 6). True, it was less heterogeneous than later in the century, but the population was still rather diverse. A review of the bibliography reveals that Maynard has read the architectural history literature widely. (Yes, Don Hutslar’s classic works on Ohio log architecture are cited.) However, references to literature in related fields such as historical geography and American landscape studies—including works by Fred Kniffen, Terry Jordan, Peirce Lewis, and John Stilgoe—are missing. These would have enlivened the discussions about the distribution of architectural styles even more. Then, too, the Ohio case studies are quite heavy on Cincinnati. Noticeably missing is material from Henry Howe’s remarkable illustrated work, Historical Collections of Ohio (1847). In retrospect, Maynard’s emphasis is heavy on the east coast and south, relatively light on the rapidly developing Old Northwest (today’s Middle West). Certain areas farther west, like Mormon Utah, are not even covered.
These criticisms aside, Architecture in the United States is a remarkable book that deserves to be on the bookshelf of every student of American architecture. It is especially strong in interpreting several aspects of American architecture—the significance of the picturesque, the meaning of Greek Revival and Gothic Revival styles, the design and evolution of the piazza (porches)—as they pertain to the building of a new nation. This emphasis on material culture is part of a broader inquiry and central to the thriving field of transatlantic history, which seeks to answer enduring questions about the exchanges of ideas that moved—both ways—across oceans.
Richard Francaviglia, The University
of Texas at Arlington
Du Bois and His Rivals. By Raymond Wolters. (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 2002. xiv + 311p; illustrations, notes, index. $34.95)
Drawing upon a variety of sources, Raymond Wolters provides in this book an account of W. E. B. Du Bois’s scholarly and activist careers in the context of his relations with other African American leaders. There is extensive and thoughtful discussion of a number of issues relating to Du Bois with which those interested in African American history are familiar. Recognizing the importance of the 1897 essay “The Conservation of Races,” Wolters points to the emphasis upon the unique history and culture of black people which enabled them to make a special contribution to civilization and to Du Bois’s conviction of the need for “a greater respect for personal liberty and worth, regardless of race.” But there was also in this seminal piece a call for correction of such vices as were found among blacks. And, according to Wolters, this was not only to tell whites what they wanted to hear, for Du Bois frequently made this point in addresses to black audiences. We are reminded again of Du Bois’s disagreements with Booker T. Washington, although at times some cooperation existed between these two figures. Wolters devotes a chapter to the intense antagonism between Du Bois and Marcus Garvey in which he forcefully sides with Du Bois. There is discussion of the conflict between Du Bois and Walter White, the personal antagonism and the ideological rupture that led to Du Bois’s 1934 departure from the NAACP.
Wolters sees Du Bois as favoring pluralism rather than integration or nationalism. He finds only traces of radical economic thinking in Du Bois’s thought in the years up to 1934. Joel Spingarn and James Weldon Johnson shared his commitment to pluralism and thus formed a solid core of support for his leadership. Spingarn encouraged cultural nationalism among blacks through sponsoring annual literary prizes and indeed was a major supporter of the Harlem Renaissance. But this nationalism paralleled advocacy of integration into other facets of society. Johnson did not believe it necessary to maintain a unique black culture forever but at least in his lifetime there was need for such a distinctiveness. But pluralism may be interpreted in varying ways and in the instance of Du Bois the emphasis upon maintaining the identity of ethnic and racial groups is accompanied by a radicalism expressed in his long-held anti-imperialism and sympathy for socialism.
Du Bois and His Rivals offers a perceptive view of Du Bois’s role as editor of the Crisis. Both Joel Spingarn and Oswald Garrison Villard desired to subordinate the journal to the NAACP’s work. Du Bois, however, saw the Crisis as having a broader role, as generally reflecting the Association’s policies but also as articulating the inspiring and provocative vision of its editor to a wide audience. For a number of years, despite his aloof relations with some NAACP officers, he was able to work in the spirit of his conception of the magazine, supported by Johnson, Spingarn, and Mary White Ovington, a growing readership, and what he was doing to gain a hearing for the NAACP’s basic policies.
Du Bois became increasingly radical in the 1930s as the United Sates entered a deep crisis that inflicted particularly severe distress upon African Americans. Wolters writes that “Du Bois concluded that capitalism was not just down but finished.” Unlike some other biographers, Wolters sees a socialistic element in Du Bois’s advocacy of economic cooperatives. Aware of the racism that influenced many white workers, Du Bois did not view interracial working class solidarity as realistic. But the 1930s impelled him leftward, an orientation that helped shape the ideas set forth in his magisterial Black Reconstruction. He believed that racism was deeply seated in the “age-long complexes sunk now largely to unconscious habit and irrational urge.” He advocated preparation for a long, patient campaign against racism. It was not enough to call upon whites to end segregation and discrimination.
Wolters makes the point that Du Bois’s resignation from the NAACP was by no means simply a result of antagonism with Walter White. The opportunistic White was more adept at organizational maneuvering than was Du Bois, but there was also the fact that such key Association leaders as Joel and Arthur Spingarn, while committed to civil rights, were committed to capitalism. They would be unlikely to favor the injection of socialistic elements into the NAACP’s program. Wolters is almost surely correct that there was no real chance for compromise between Du Bois and his adversaries in the NAACP leadership.
The treatment given in the book to Du Bois’s move to the left is sketchy and at times based on insufficient evidence. Concerning a comment that the Communist party’s national secretariat assigned James Jackson the task of aiding Shirley Graham in bringing Du Bois closer to the party, Wolters relies upon a secondary source. Wolters is contradictory regarding the Stockholm Peace Appeal. At one point he implies that the appeal asked Americans to demand that the U.S. government never be the first to employ atomic weapons, but he also writes that “one of the principal points of Communist propaganda then called for all nations to renounce the use of nuclear weapons.” It hardly needs to be said that it was not only Communists who opposed nuclear war in the 1950s and the decades that followed. Wolters asserts that Du Bois’s statements in his last decades seem not only wrong but foolish, a product in part of his old age, but in retrospect his continuing criticisms of American foreign policy appear prescient.
In this useful work Wolters writes that Du Bois’s writings will endure as eloquent appeals for racial justice and that he lived one of the great lives of the twentieth century. Du Bois and His Rivals, however, falls short in considering the full scope of Du Bois’s leadership in the struggle against imperialism, racism, and war.
Herbert Shapiro, University of Cincinnati
Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade, Vols. I and II. By Timothy J. Kent. (Ossineke, Mich.: Silver Fox Enterprises, 1997. Vol. 1: 343p.; illustrations, notes, bibliography. Vol. 2: 326p.; illustrations, notes. $40.00 paper.)
Tahquamenon Tales: Experiences of an Early French Trader and His Native Family. By Timothy J. Kent, (Ossineke, Mich.: Silver Fox Enterprises, 1998. 208p.; illustrations. $19.95 paper.)
Ft. Pontchartrain at Detroit: A Guide to the Daily Lives of Fur Trade and Military Personnel, Settlers, and Missionariees at French Posts, Vol. II. By Timothy J. Kent (Ossineke, Mich.: Silver Fox Enterprises, 2001. 624p.; illlustrations, notes, bibliography, appendixes, index. $125.00.)
Tim Kent would likely not be offended or surprised if someone said he was preoccupied. He is, in fact, obsessed with the life of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French fur traders. His thirst for knowledge is so insatiable that he has actually recreated the material world of the fur trader and, along with his family, spent extended periods canoeing through the wilderness, living the life of a fur trader. This experience is retold in Tahquamenon Tales. The fundamental component of his fur trade reenactment is, of course, the canoe itself. His two-volume Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade provides the documentary evidence to back up his re-creation. Historically the French fur trade in the Ohio Valley was centered at Detroit, and Kent’s most recent two-volume publication, Ft. Pontchartrain at Detroit, is an in-depth treatment of the material elements of that post.
Birchbark Canoes, the premier installment in this fur-trade trilogy, is by far the author’s best effort. Following a discussion of the history of canoes and their builders in the St. Lawrence Valley and Hudson’s Bay, Kent provides a highly detailed treatment of canoe styles, construction, decoration, equipment, and historic use patterns. This includes reproductions of historic artwork illustrating canoes in use. Since few canoes built prior to 1800 are extant, the author has studied the next best thing: nineteenth-century examples. A major emphasis is on the eight surviving voyaging canoes, including one owned by the Ohio Historical Society, and several models. Volume two provides an exhaustive discussion of these examples through text, drawings, and photographs. Concluding with a lengthy bibliography, the work forms a significant expansion of Edwin Adney and Howard Chapelle’s classic volume on Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America published by the Smithsonian Institution in 1963. Because the emphasis is on detail and not analysis, Kent’s two-volume canoe study is good as far as it goes, but falls short of placing his beloved artifacts in any larger, meaningful social or societal context.
Tahquamenon Tales is the most idiosyncratic of the three works. With his wife, two sons, dog, and himself as the models, Kent catalogs a form of living history research by recreating the daily activities of a seventeenth-century French fur trader and his Woodland Indian family. Much like the PBS Frontier House reality TV show, each assumes a role in full regalia as, a week at a time, they relive the cultural intermingling of the Native American and French worlds. The narrative follows an imaginary journey through the wilderness area around Lake Huron. In keeping with the best reenactments, the text and 135 color and black-and-white photographs gives one a sense of life during a historic period. The production qualities for the volume are reasonably high and, although not at a single historic site, I would place it among the premier efforts at first-person interpretation, an ever-challenging concept. Nonetheless, the absence of any bibliography or documentation may leave readers who are unfamiliar with the material world of seventeenth-century French traders unsure of the volume’s authenticity.
Fort Pontchartrain at Detroit, like its companion volumes, is comprehensive in its approach. The author has striven to document the physical world of the military men, the civilians involved in the fur trade, and the missionaries who operated at French trading posts between the early seventeenth century and the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Fort Pontchartrain, erected in 1701 by troops under the direction of Antoine Sieur de Cadillac, provides the focus for his study. Typical of the author’s approach, he has taken his inspiration from a newly discovered, eighteen-page, handwritten cargo manifest that lists every single item provided by the French crown to Cadillac. Along with a facsimile rendition of the first two pages of the original document, he even provides French and English versions of the entire manifest as one of his thirty-two appendices. From this prized document the author has prepared a dozen chapters organized around the physical world and daily activities at this French post. Following a historical overview with a detailed analysis of the cartographic records of the fort, he provides in-depth discussions covering: canoe transportation; provision preparation and consumption; equipment for hunting, trapping, fishing, and warfare; buildings and their hardware and furnishings; ecclesiastical furnishings and vestments; tools for working wood, metal, and stone; farming and gardening tools; clothing (including its sewing and laundering); articles used for grooming and medical treatment; recreational life and items; and trade and commerce including trade goods. It is the encyclopedic nature of the work that should appeal to students of the French in America in general, and of the fur trade in particular.
All three publications are self-published, but Fort Pontchartrain especially suffers from the ailments all too common to the genre: excessive length, weak design, poor quality art reproduction, and a small press run that leads to inflated prices. In what must have been an effort to reduce costs, the author has redrawn numerous maps and plats in lieu of reproducing facsimile versions. This can make portions of the artwork more legible, but it also reduces the documentary quality of his work. Unfortunately his minimalist artifact drawings are amateurish and of marginal value, and most of his photographic half-tones are muddy. Collectively, the volumes represent the work of a highly dedicated enthusiast who, working independently, has pulled together a remarkable amount of information on the world of the eighteenth-century French fur trader. Presumably it must be left to other scholars to make sense of the material he has gathered.
David A. Simmons, Ohio Historical Society
A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution. By Carol Berkin. (New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, Inc., 2002. 310 p.; notes, index. $26.00.)
In this remarkably learned but never pedantic book, Carol Berkin reprises the story of the drafting of the Constitution of 1787. Although this is a familiar story to the specialist, its telling here is nonetheless fresh and informative. Berkin relates in her introduction that A Brilliant Solution had its genesis in the two recent crises with which the nation has been confrontedæthe presidential election of 2000 and the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of September 2001. Those events, Berkin notes, created a compelling desire among many to put them into historical perspective, evinced in the question that others asked her and she asked herself: “What would the founding fathers think of these events?” (p. 4). Berkin acknowledges that there is no way of knowing, but she admits the question inspired her to consider the political crisis the founding fathers themselves faced and how they solved it to “help Americans gain the historical perspective they seemed to be seeking” (p. 4). The crisis confronting the founding fathers was of course the imminent prospect of the collapse of the government under the Articles of Confederation. The means they chose for resolving that crisisthe constitutional convention of 1787is the subject Berkin addresses in this book.
The meaning conveyed in the book’s title, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, is that the document drafted by the founding fathers in the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 provided a brilliant solution to the crisis they and the nation confronted. Fair enough. But in Berkin’s rendering of the nature of the crisis, the character of the men who took it upon themselves to resolve it, and the dynamics of the convention, one senses that the truly brilliant solution is to be found in the cohort of delegates who made up the convention itself. Nationalistic in their inclinations and drawn together by a common concernæ“Our present government is a name, a shadow, without power or effect” (p. 11)the delegates to the convention were a diverse and accomplished group of men. “They were men of wealth and comfortælandowners, slaveholders, lawyers, merchants, and land securities speculators, and an occasional doctor or clergymanmen with a near monopoly on formal education and professional training in a predominantly agrarian society” (p. 49). Yet, they were essentially of one mind in their view that their and their nation’s well-being depended on a radical change in the existing structure of the Confederation government. What was unknown, and would only become known over the summer of 1787, was the nature and kind of changes they all were willing to accept.
Over the sweltering summer of 1787, confined in the muggy, stifling “East Room” of the Pennsylvania state house, “better known as Independent Hall” (p. 43), the delegates, who had been brought together by a common perception of a “need for change” would clash repeatedly over the “kind of change” they regarded as necessary to deal with the crisis confronting the nation (p. 71). In the course of their debates each delegate would not only come to know more fully his own mind but also the minds of his peers. As they tackled such protean issues as the structure, power, and nature of representation of a new government, some worked to modify and others opposed the recommendations of the radical, nationalistic voices in the convention. This was a difficult and divisive process that, at several points on certain issues, led to the near break up of the convention. The delegates were able, through compromise compelled by the fear that doing nothing was not an option, to reach what they hoped was a solution to the crisis—a solution, as it turned out, that resulted in their “inventing the American constitution.” Although the new constitution was something that most Americans could not have expected, the founders were able to secure its ratification, and with the election of George Washington as president the new government was put into operation.
Berkin appears to be arguing that the “brilliant solution” created by the convention delegates was the only solution they could have found to the crisis confronting them. Another group of men facing the same situation would have arrived at a different solution. And the selection of anyone but George Washington as president in 1789 would have hazarded the existence of the new government; Washington astutely recognized that “his role in the government was exemplary rather than directive” (p. 206). Thus, Berkin may be read as saying, if there is a lesson to be derived from these events to help us gain historical perspective for the events of 2000 and 2001, it is that it matters who is given the responsibility for dealing with such crises. In like manner to the founding fathers crisis, a different group of individuals would have reached a different solution to our recent crises.
Berkin has done a stellar job of invoking a sense of the difficulties the founders confronted in grappling with their crisis. Although this is a book that is aimed primarily at the general reader, it deserves to be read by everyone, including the specialist.
John E. Douglass, Raymond Walters College, University of Cincinnati
The Romance of Small-Town Chautauquas. By James R. Schultz. (Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press, 2002. xi + 185p.; illustrations, glossary, bibliography, index. $29.95.)
James Schultz provides an interesting look at the traveling chautauqua movement that was a fixture of small American towns in the early twentieth century. His account draws on the personal memories of his father and uncle, who both served as traveling supervisors on chautauqua circuits. Thus, in 157 pages this book provides an inside look at chautauqua from the perspective of those who organized it. It also provides a fairly thorough pictorial display. Dozens of black-and-white photos, many from the personal collections of the author and his family, illustrate the text. Appendixes provide a timeline and examples of chautauqua circuit schedules.
As indicated by his title, Schultz presents traveling the chautauqua movement as an exciting adventure in providing education and entertainment to rural America. The initial chapters describe the circuit chautauqua’s founding and rapid growth. Borrowing the name of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, it presented a program of educational speakers and entertainers. The big tents became cultural centers for the week they were in a town. From its origins in the Midwest, the chautauqua movement quickly spread across the United States. By 1921, 9,875 communities played host to the ninety-three circuits, operated by twenty-one companies.
Most of this book portrays chautauqua as seen through the eyes of Schultz’s uncle and father, who spent summers as traveling superintendents. Working with local committees, they publicized the program, oversaw the equipment, and provided for the needs of the speakers and entertainers who journeyed through the summer. These included William Jennings Bryan, Ida Tarbell, and Edgar Bergen, among many others.
In the early 1930s, the traveling chautauqua movement came to a surprisingly quick end. Schultz includes the development of radio and automobile travel among reasons for the decline, but notes that the depression was a major factor, as was a change in tastes leading Americans to prefer entertainment over the educational fare of chautauqua. He notes, though, that the original institute in New York continues to this day. He also briefly mentions that the Great Plains Chautauqua has begun a modern traveling chautauqua movement.
Schultz’s narrative flows in an easy, readable style. Although he supplements archival research with personal interviews, presenting many quotes, his own voice is consistent throughout. He maintains a good degree of objectivity while covering a rather personal subject. The illustrations are well arranged, always in close proximity to their subject matter in the narrative. Indeed, the book is so rich in images that it might have made an excellent coffee-table book. However, the source of the photos, as well as the personal recollections that inform the research, indicate the book’s major limitation.
Schultz presents the traveling chautauqua movement from the unique and valuable perspective of those who organized and ran the programs, but that is the book’s only view. A thorough study should devote more space to the perspective of the small towns that hosted chautauqua, and of the people who traveled many miles to attend. The institutional history would have greater relevance if presented with more context of general American history, particularly technological and economic developments. This criticism should not be taken as an indictment of the book’s value and role in the historiography of its subject matter. It provides an important explanation and analysis of a particular aspect of the chautauqua movement.
Although not Schultz’s purpose, one would wish that his conclusion said more about the modern chautauqua movement. He mentions the Great Plains Chautauqua, but he neglects the many others that Humanities Councils now operate in states as diverse as Nevada, Maryland, and Illinois—with the largest touring Ohio. Schultz aptly portrays the romance that surrounded the traveling chautauqua movement, and it is evident that an element of that romance continues today.
Frank Dunkle, Ohio Humanities Council
Regionalism and Reform: Art and Class Formation in Antebellum Cincinnati. By Wendy Jean Katz. (Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University Press, 2002. xx + 264p.; illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $44.95.)
Over the last few decades it has become common practice for art historians to approach a work of art as a cultural artifact rather than as a rarefied aesthetic object. This shift toward a more inclusive social history of art has touched all areas of the discipline, but it has been decidedly beneficial for traditionally neglected styles and periods. For example, nineteenth-century American painting and sculpture has now become the subject of serious scholarly attention, and with Regionalism and Reform: Art and Class Formation in Antebellum Cincinnati, Wendy Jean Katz makes a strong contribution to this growing body of literature. Employing a wide array of primary and secondary source materials, Katz reconstructs the economic, social, and physical geography of Cincinnati, Ohio, at a time when the city was positioning itself as the “Athens of the West.” As business and civic leaders set about developing this growing frontier town into a model society based on decorum, restraint, and empathy with ones fellow citizen, they supported the development of institutions and the pursuit of pastimes that reinforced models of middle-class behavior. Making and appreciating art were perceived as furthering the cultivation of prescribed codes of conduct and thus the climate for artists was made hospitable by generous patronage. Katz draws heavily from the texts of contemporary etiquette manuals and popular journals in order to define the terms by which middle class status could be achieved. Using this material, she re-examines three Cincinnati artists—Lilly Martin Spencer, Robert Duncanson, and Hiram Powers—to show how their work both shaped and supported the configuration of this emerging class.
Spencer, the only professional female painter of this period, capitalized on the one area where her gender made her expert—the domestic sphere. Katz draws a parallel between Spencer’s depictions of rosy-cheeked children, well-appointed interiors, and bustling housekeepers, and the assertions made by contemporary reform literature that a clean, well-ordered home was the source of a woman’s moral authority. Duncanson, like Spencer, was an anomaly—one of the few African-Americans painting professionally. His idealized landscapes, often based on literary subjects, catered to the needs of his powerful patrons. The rejuvenating effects of landscape were enhanced by the inclusion of human figures (often even African American figures in Duncanson’s work) showing man in harmony with nature and, important for his Abolitionist patrons, with his fellow man. Powers, a sculptor by trade, also dealt in the idealized, producing classicized figures in flawless white marble designed to instill elevated sentiments in his viewers. He made a living by creating portraits of important political figures in the guise of Greek senators, but his best known work is possibly The Greek Slave. The printed brochure that accompanied this life-sized, nude female figure at exhibitions explained that she was made a captive during the Greek rebellion against Turkey. Her nudity was rendered acceptable by this narrative—a narrative which carried an important moral message by asserting that honor and modesty were worn internally, and thus could not be removed like clothing.
Typically, these artists have been studied in the context of a developing American art world and examined in terms of their contributions to the codification of gender and racial roles and to the formation of national identity. Katz focuses more closely on them as Cincinnati artists and the manner in which this city, at a pivotal moment in its own development, significantly shaped their careers. Clearly presented, concisely written, and meticulously researched, this book raises interesting issues concerning the relationship between the regional and the national by posing pointed questions about the direction of cultural flow. Katz attempts to overturn the notion that all things were dictated in the eastern urban centers by suggesting that, as each of these three artists went on to become an active participant in a larger art world, the impact of their regional roots became significant to the shaping of national ideas.
Nora Kilbane, The Ohio State University
River of Enterprise. By Kim M. Gruenwald. (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2002. xvi + 214p.; maps, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $39.95.)
Focusing on the formative years of the new country and the settlement of the Ohio River valley, the author provides many insights to the process that generated the “Middle West” and the “Upper South” that existed prior to the Civil War. Gruenwald carefully lays out the pattern of change that occurs along the Ohio River as settlement progresses after the Revolutionary War and the land ordinances of the 1780s. Migration over the Appalachians to Pittsburgh at the headwaters of the Ohio River, combined with the natural settlement along this waterway as it follows Ohio’s border between western Virginia and Kentucky, provides the substance of the first part of this book. Both farmers and men of commerce came to this area in search of independence and fortune. The author focuses on the activities of three generations of the Woodbridge family as they migrate, settle, and engage in commercial intercourse in the Ohio River Valley and beyond. Most of the book centers around the life and commercial activity of Dudley Woodbridge Jr., a member of the second generation of the Woodbridge family to live in Marietta, Ohio. Using data from letters, ledgers, and diaries, Gruenwald constructs a detailed image of life and commerce in the Ohio River Valley as it is transformed from a sparsely populated wilderness area into a thriving commercial conduit for both intra-national and international trade. It is not until the issues of slavery begin to surface that the Ohio River is viewed as a border separating people with different political and commercial interests. This latter period forms the basis of the final part of the book.
The story told by the author is relatively short, 158 pages, but is backed by extensive citations, thirty-five pages of footnotes and twelve pages of bibliography. As an economist, qua economic historian, I would prefer to have more analysis of the information presented in this book. The author provides extensive data regarding the pricing of transactions between store owners and purchasers who use various means of payment, e.g., currency, labor, goods, third party notes, or credit, and who are at various distances from the store owner. It would have been more informative to have a systematic presentation of these data. Moreover, it may be possible to determine the different risk premiums associated with various types of payment. Discussion of methods of payment would have benefited from a brief discussion of the role of money in an economy and why currency was in such short supply around the turn of the century. Her data span a number of years which would allow one to examine changes in these risk premiums as commercial networks expanded and matured. Discussions of land speculation would have been enhanced if the author had explicitly analyzed the degree to which these speculators were leveraged. Her data appear to offer sufficient detail for this analysis.
Discussion of the impact of the transportation revolution on the settlement and the economic growth of Ohio, both along the river and elsewhere, is very well done. It is sufficiently complete to provide an explanation of the impact that canals, steamships, and railroads had on commerce in the Ohio River Valley, while not covering ground already traversed by other researchers.
Aside from what I might wish this book had included, I found the book to be interesting and packed with factual information about a period and region that has previously received less attention than its integral role in the settlement and growth of the “Western Country” warrants. I recommend the book to anyone interested in the risks and perils faced by those who ventured to the Ohio River Valley in search of wealth and independence during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
William K. Hutchinson, Vanderbilt University
Invisible Giants: The Empires of Cleveland’s Van Sweringen Brothers. By Herbert H. Harwood Jr. (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2003. xii + 342 p.; illustrations, notes, index. $49.95.)
Herbert H. Harwood Jr. has sensibly called his study of the Van Sweringens (“Vans”) of Cleveland, Invisible Giants. Of the leading entrepreneurs in twentieth-century America, these bachelor brothers were probably the most private; they repeatedly shunned publicity. When the jewel in their business crown, Cleveland’s Terminal Tower, was dedicated, the Vans remained in their suburban home, listening to live radio broadcasts. They were always content to work behind the scenes.
This is a meticulously researched biography and business history. Because the brothers avoided publicity and did not assemble their papers, historians have found it difficult to follow either their personal or corporate careers. Harwood, however, has imaginatively combed the published records and other pertinent materials to construct what is arguably the “definitive” account of these remarkable Clevelanders. His book supersedes the rather brief The Van Sweringens of Cleveland, written by Ian Haberman and published in 1979 by the Western Reserve Historical Society. Moreover, Invisible Giants is richly illustrated and features a valuable essay on sources.
The saga of the modest and self-effacing Vans reads like the classic Horatio Alger novel. Both Oris Paxton (O.P.; 1879-1936) and his younger brother Mantis James (M.J.; 1881-1935) possesssed that get-up-and-go spirit, allowing them to make the transition from rural lads to big-city real-estate promoters. O.P. was more the thinker and M.J. was more the clerk, yet their personalities and abilities were a wondrously exact fit. As Harwood repeatedly reveals, they were workaholics; extended relaxation was not part of their makeup. By the 1910’s the Vans had achieved financial acclaim by developing one of America’s leading suburban developments, Shaker Heights.
But O.P. and M.J. were not content with land sales and development; shortly before World War I they acquired control of the 523-mile New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad, almost universally known as the Nickel Plate Road (NKP). Although they never lost their passion for real estate, which by 1930 included the six-building Terminal Tower office-retail-hotel-transportation complex on Public Square, they became obsessed with railroads. By 1930 they had assembled the nation’s largest rail network and seemed poised to create the first truly coast-to-coast system. With the NKP as the entry, they added the Toledo, Chicago & St. Louis (“Clover Leaf”); Lake Erie & Western (LE&W); Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O); Hocking Valley; Erie; Pere Marquette; Wheeling & Lake Erie; Chicago & Eastern Illinois, and the sprawling Missouri Pacific. The Vans became masters of the holding company, as Harwood aptly shows, whereby they leveraged their modest investments into this dazzling transportation empire. Although they succeeded in winning Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) approval for merging the Clover Leaf and LE&W into the NKP, an uncooperative ICC dampened their other requests for corporate marriage. Fortunately, holding companies were beyond the jurisdiction of the ICC. Yet, the Vans were builders and not wreckers; they were in railroading for the long term.
The stock market crash of October 1929 which ultimately sent the national economy into a tailspin, forced the Vans to work feverishly to save their wobbly holdings. And they achieved some success. The stress of a series of financial crises, however, destroyed their health, resulting in the death of M.J. in 1935 and O.P. only eleven months later. By then their empire was largely in shambles.
Since the Great Depression the overall image of the Vans has remained tarnished. A Congressional investigation, launched after their passing, suggested that they were “betrayers instead of benefactors” and this highly publicized probe did much to fix the public’s perception. Still, as Harwood cogently argues, they were decent, hard-working men who had a series of amazingly visionary ideas. Appropriately, some of their physical legacies remain, most notably Shaker Heights, that “city within a city” Terminal Tower, and the stellar former C&O, now a main component of the mighty CSX Corporation. Concludes Harwood, “The leisurely course of history finally validated the brothers’ visionary planning” (p. 301).
H. Roger Grant, Clemson University
Gods of War, Gods of Peace: How the Meeting of Native and Colonial Religions Shaped Early America. By Russell Bourne. (New York, N.Y.: Harcourt, 2002. xv + 425 p.; illustrations, bibliography, index. $28.00)
In this ambitious and interesting book Russell Bourne, former editor at American Heritage and author of The Red King’s Rebellion: Racial Politics in New England, argues that “the cultural contact between Anglo-Americans and Native Americans . . . becomes most understandable when seen as an intrinsically religious encounter” (p. 3) that had “immense consequences for [both] cultures” (p. xii). Bourne covers the two centuries from the 1630s through the 1830s, shedding light on familiar and less familiar religious figures such as Handsome Lake, Hobomock, John Eliot, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Kirkland, and Shikellamy. Bourne’s sympathies are clearly with moments and places, including the Nanticoke Reformer’s Juniata Junction and David Brainerd’s Crossweeksung, where Indians and Europeans joined to create “equitable biracial communities” (p. 224). Most of the time, however, the “gods of war” overwhelmed the “gods of peace.” Bourne is quite persuasive in describing 17th-century conflicts such as the Pequot War and King Philip’s War as religious wars. More provocatively, he argues that the American Revolution, in which George Washington’s “largest assault . . . [was] against the corn-rich, spirited, unreconcilable Iroquois,” was in many ways a conflict of “Indian nationalism and American evangelical imperialism” (276-77).
Gods of War is filled with similarly bold assertions. Unfortunately, there are no footnotes or related devices, making it more difficult for the reader to assess the author’s claims. Yes, there is a bibliography, but there is no substantive preface or historiographical essay that would enlighten the reader as to where Bourne fits into the general academic conversation. All this is to say that the traditional scholarly apparatus has its virtues.
Readers of Ohio History will be especially interested in the final third of Gods of War, where Bourne deals with European-Indian interactions in Ohio, including the slaughter of Indians at the Moravian village of Gnadenhuetten, and the defeat at Fallen Timbers of Blue Jacket and the Ohio Indians (whose ability to fight may have been diminished by excessive pre-battle fasting). Then there is Tecumseh, his brother Tenskatawa (“the Prophet”), and the doomed Shawnee resistance; in one of many fascinating asides Bourne discusses how a group of Shakers from Kentucky were impressed by and learned much from Tenskatawa: “‘Surely God is in this place!’ they said of the Shawnee Prophet’s town” (p. 327).
But this is the weakest section of the book, as Bourne is less sure-footed in dealing with post-Revolutionary America. While he makes great use of the Second Great Awakening, arguing that it was a crucial factor in the removal of Indians “from the land that gave them their cultural identity” (p. 332), there is no clear definition of the Awakening and no clear sense as to who constituted the “awakened.” While Bourne holds up Mormons as exceptionally sympathetic to the Indians, it really is impossible to explain the Mormons and their relationship with native Americans in four paragraphs. Most egregious, the notion that after 1830, when Protestant leaders failed in their effort to halt passage of the Indian Removal Act, religion in the United States became a strictly “private matter” (except for a vague civil religion) is completely off-base (p. 365).
Gods of War, Gods of Peace is a book that makes grand statements about the first two hundred years of American history, and the formation of American identity. As such, it contains too many overstatements and oversimplifications. This said, it is bracing to encounter a book of such ambition and, often, insight. Russell Bourne’s book is certainly worth reading, both to get a sense of how taking religion seriously will alter one’s perspective on American history, and to recall the “gods of peace” who, if heeded, would have made this a better country in which to live.
William Vance Trollinger Jr., University of Dayton
North from the Mountains: A Folk History of the Carmel Melungeon Settlement, Highland County, Ohio. By John S. Kessler and Donald B. Ball. (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2001. xvi + 220p.; illustrations, maps, appendixes, tables, notes, bibliography, index. $19.95 paper.)
The authors are eminently qualified to write this volume. John Kessler grew up near Carmel and Donald Ball has several publications, including A Bibliography of Tennessee Anthropology in 1976 and a 1996 article on West African crossbow technology.
This book focuses on the Carmel Melungeons, a community of mestizos who were “of mixed blood.” The authors assert that the first written mention of the community was in a guide written by the Ohio Writers’ Program in 1940. This book joins the many scholarly books and articles by anthropologists, cultural geographers, genealogists, historians, and sociologists about racially mixed communities.
The book covers the cultural landscape, the history and origins of the Carmel Melungeons, the establishment of the Carmel settlement, and its connection with other groups in the nation. There is a good chapter on previous ethnographical studies and a folk history of the Carmel 1823 settlement. The book ends with chapters on “Current Status” and “Future Directions.”
The short introductory chapter provides a useful historical background to remind us that the Native Americans in Ohio did not all move west of the Mississippi River in the early nineteenth century. The chapters on “Location and Natural Environment” and “The Cultural Landscape” are useful for giving the reader a clear understanding of the area. The authors have excellent knowledge of the major scholars in their field and frequently cite writings of Edward Thomas Price Jr., Violet Morgan, Brewton Berry, and N. Brent Kennedy. Much of the book focuses on family names and census reports. The varied illustrations supplement the text.
John Kessler, the senior author, is at his best writing the folk history of the Carmel community because for a number of years, he lived in it. He describes the social organization, the names of families, their racial origins, their customs and clothing, and the food they ate. Part of this chapter is based on his experiences, part on research, and part on interviews. He writes that the group “was locally considered to be a mixture of Indian, Caucasian, and possibly Negro.”
There are nineteen illustrations, the same number of tables, eleven appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. Readers will miss much information if they overlook the appendixes. They include a summary of census data for Carmel and Magoffin County Melungeons, population of South Appalachia Melungeons, and Carmel gravestone inscriptions. The footnotes are at the bottom of each page.
This volume combines documented historical and ethnographic information on a little-known group with observations and anecdotes of the Carmel area population in the mid-twentieth century. It ends with comments on future directions for research. The Carmel Melungeons in Ohio have been overlooked by earlier scholars and this work is a major contribution.
Charles C. Cole Jr., Columbus, Ohio
Creating a Perfect World: Religious and Secular Utopias in Nineteenth-Century Ohio. By Catherine M. Rokicky. (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2002. vii + 181p.; illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. $34.95 cloth, $17.95 paper.)
In Creating a Perfect World, the fourth title in the Ohio Bicentennial Series, Catherine Rokicky provides readers with an overview of many, but not all, of the religious and secular communal experiments dotting the state’s landscape during its formative years. Taken collectively, accounts of these ventures capture the heightened sense of possibility for social change that permeated antebellum Ohio and the nation and reveal “the limitations that culture imposed on groups that pushed too much for change” (p. 1) as they shed light on the state’s communitarian past.
The author, an assistant professor of history at Cuyahoga Community College, devotes one chapter each to three religious utopias: the Shakers at North Union, the Separatists at Zoar, and the Mormons in Kirtland. A fourth chapter explores such selected secular utopias as those inspired by Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, and free love. In each, Rokicky introduces readers to key figures, beliefs, and historical developments, and attempts to situate most of the movements in their larger historical context. Her use of a gendered lens adds an important dimension to our understanding of Ohio women’s history. Shaker women, she observes, found power in the practice of celibacy, while other women turned to utopian communities in their search for a refuge from poverty and the inferior social status accorded them by society.
Secular utopias receive short shrift in Creating a Perfect World, and as a survey of Ohio’s utopian past it provides synthesis rather than in-depth analysis. Rokicky draws heavily on such classic but dated studies as Edgar B. Nixon’s “The Society of Separatists of Zoar” (Ph.D. dissertation, 1933), Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History (1945), and Alice Felt Tyler’s Freedom’s Ferment (1944), while references to such works as Stephen J. Stein’s The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers (1992), Thomas D. Hamm’s God’s Government Begun: The Society for Universal Inquiry and Reform, 1842-1846 (1995), William Vartorella’s dissertation on the Berlin Heights Free Lovers (1978), Jean L Silver-Isenstadt’s dissertation on Thomas and Mary Gove Nichols (1997), and article-length studies by Donald F. Durnbaugh on the Separatist Society of Zoar, and Mark R. Grandstaff and Milton V. Backman on the Kirtland Mormons, are notably absent. Rather than correcting some of the factual errors present in earlier works, Creating a Perfect World helps perpetuate them. Scholars also will be critical of the author’s decision to provide selective, rather than comprehensive, treatment of Ohio’s communal sites. Missing from this narrative, perhaps because of their short duration, are such groups as the Society of the United Germans (1827-31), the Oberlin Colony (1833-41), and the Highland Home (1844), yet all are part of the Buckeye state’s complex heritage.
While this work leaves the academic reader yearning for more depth, accuracy, and detail, it nonetheless will pique the interest of students and general readers who are less familiar with Ohio’s utopian past. The inclusion of seldom-seen archival photographs enhances chapters devoted to religious utopias. None, however, are included to document the secular utopian experience, which could have been enriched by images of Robert Owen, Valentine Nicholson, Thomas and Mary Gove Nichols’s Memnonia (near Yellow Springs), and the Davis House (a residence associated with the Berlin Heights Free Lovers). Despite its shortcomings, Creating a Perfect World raises a number of questions that merit further investigation. We know, for instance, that northeastern Ohio represents an extension of New York’s Burned-Over District. What particular factors made nineteenth-century Ohio such a conducive environment forüutopian experiments? What impact did their presence have on the state’s cultural and economic development? How were Ohio’s utopians regarded by those around them? Based on a map of some of Ohio’s communal sites (p. 6), it appears that communitarians tended to locate in proximity to the National Road or the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati Railway. To what extent did transportation routes facilitate both the settlement and interaction among different groups of utopian thinkers? These are just a few of the questions waiting to be addressed in future studies of Ohio’s communal past.
Joanne E. Passet, Indiana University East
War Under Heaven: Pontiac, the Indian Nations, and the British Empire. By Gregory Evans Dowd. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. xvi + 360p.; illustrations, maps, notes, index. $32.00.)
Anyone tackling the Indian uprising of 1763 works in a distinguished tradition but Gregory Dowd’s book excels by any standards. Far-ranging, multifaceted, and independently minded, it demands the attention of historians of American Indians, British North America, and the empire alike. Pontiac, the Ottawa leader whose attack on Detroit prompted the war and gave it a name, is thoroughly discussed. Indeed, he gains in stature from new evidence that the call for an intertribal attack upon the British garrisons first came from his Detroit Indians rather than the Genesee Senecas, as many scholars supposed. But Dowd goes far beyond the immediate theatre of conflict. He seems at home in all worlds, and flits adroitly from Anishinabeg villages beside the Great Lakes to British imperialists in the styled portals of Whitehall, bringing to each of his portraits a formidable authority.
The war is well known. Rising against the conquerors of New France, the Indians eliminated every British post west of Niagara apart from Detroit and Pitt and rolled back the white settlements penetrating the Appalachian barrier. The revolt reached Michilimackinac in the north, swept along the Maumee and Wabash Rivers and the southern shore of Lake Erie, and embroiled the Indians of the upper Ohio. It alerted the British to a need to stabilize Indian relations, and contributed to the 1763 Royal Proclamation temporarily making the west an intertribal preserve. The details are reviewed here, with fresh perspectives at every stage, but most importantly Dowd assesses the significance of the conflict. The principal issue was status. Though Indians, especially those on the Ohio 9nd Genesee, were disturbed by territorial encroachments, and inconvenienced by a stricter regulation of trade and cutbacks in gifts and ammunition, it was less the privations themselves than what they portended that stirred native suspicions. “We can now talk to our new Allies in a proper Stile, as their services are not Necessary,” wrote one British officer (p. 64). By abandoning customary largesse and protocol, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, the British commander-in-chief, and his subordinate officers signalled a diminution of the status of the Indians and ill intent. As some Delawares, inspired by the nativist prophet Neolin, declared, “the English sought to become Masters of all, & would put us to death” (p. 91). Pontiac and his followers hoped to drive the British back and encourage the French to return and restore a strategic balance of power in which Indians had mattered. But the war failed to resolve that or other aboriginal issues. Twenty years later the tribes of the Ohio Valley found themselves similarly placed, but the new conquerors were the infant United States.
Dowd is unquestionably right to characterize the conflict as an expression “of Great Britain’s struggle and failure to form stable, working relationships . . . among the peoples within its suddenly acquired North American empire” (p. 248). British Indian policy remained a mess in the post-war years. The tribes were held to be separate but dependent nations within the boundaries of sovereign British territory, under the crown’s protection but ultimately destined to be dispossessed of their rights to use the soil. The Proclamation Line temporarily divided them from bona fide British “subjects.” But the situation was intractable, and it was impossible to reconcile even the transient integrity of the Indian country with the demands of speculators and settlers for new land, or the need for garrisons to police boundary lines with the calls of a tax-weary British public for retrenchment. Four ministries in six years accentuated inconsistency. Early the following decade the crown’s failure was symbolized by the withdrawal of soldiers from Fort Pitt in 1772, and the relinquishment of the area to the expansionist colony of Virginia. The renewal of Indian warfare quickly followed.
Dowd is convincing and judicious throughout, supporting his arguments with meticulous research, but in a book brimming with ideas there are some that may surprise, including the contention that the French habitants of the Detroit, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers played little part in fomenting Indian hostilities in 1763. A few qualifications are also appropriate. The intertribal organization and nativist revivalism that followed the war, for example, were less legacies of the conflict, as implied towards the end of the book, than part of defensive traditions developing in the Ohio and elsewhere before Pontiac raised his tomahawk. War Under Heaven will stimulate scholarly debate for many years. In scope, erudition, and clarity it deserves the highest praise, and should be regarded as mandatory reading for anyone interested in pre-revolutionary America.
John Sugden, Cumbria, England
All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1865. By Gerald J. Prokopowicz. Civil War America Series, edited by Gary W. Gallagher. (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. xii + 265p.; maps, figures, illustrations, bibliography, notes, index. $34.95.)
By the time hostilities ended and the final Confederate armies had surrendered in late spring 1865, onlookers could easily identify the Army of the Ohio as a training ground for greatness. Men like Ulysses Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and George Thomas had begun their careers in the western theater of operations and had risen to the level of heroes largely because of the lessons they had learned there. Although these men embodied the efficiency and skill that would identify the Army of the Ohio in the latter part of the war, that force, as it stood in its infancy, cut an entirely different figure. Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Lincoln Scholar and Director of Public Programs at the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, argues that the army’s regimental organization and its method of recruiting soldiers created a uniquely cohesive force capable of fighting well as individual regiments, but unable to deliver decisive victories as an army.
The army’s ability to soundly whip the Confederates at places like Logan’s Crossroads, yet implode upon itself in battles such as Perryville, proved frustrating for the Federal high command. Prokopowicz traces this enigmatic behavior to the Army of the Ohio’s unique methods of recruitment and training. Those who joined the Union cause usually signed up with a recruiting officer who enlisted one town at a time, ensuring those who joined together would often be placed in the same companies and regiments where they would be trained, fight, and sometimes die together.
Complicating the organization of the Army of the Ohio was the selection of Don Carlos Buell as its commander in early November 1861. An able and talented organizer, Buell immediately breathed life into a force which had struggled through its infancy under Generals Robert Anderson and William Tecumseh Sherman, both of whom were overmatched by the position. As commander Buell, hamstrung by a lack of skilled subordinates, organized his force into several individual units which he would directly control on the battlefield. This administrative adjustment combined with Buell’s cautious battlefield habits and aloofness toward his men to ensure that the man one biographer called the “Most Promising of All” would endure a tumultuous year in command of the army.
In the fewer than two-hundred pages that constitute this book, Prokopowicz attempts to explain and justify his very complex thesis. Perhaps the best explanation is within his chapter that examines the Battle of Perryville. There, Don Carlos Buell met Braxton Bragg’s vastly outnumbered Confederates in what might have been, under different circumstances, one in only a handful of battles that decided the course of the Civil War. Prokopowicz shows that the military organization that Bragg built into his Army of the Ohio, aided by a lack of qualified staff officers, served to undo this potentially climactic contest. By the end of the day, Bragg’s army would escape and Buell, unaware for several hours of the battle raging two-and-a-half miles in his front, would become an avatar of squandered opportunity.
At the center of Prokopowicz’s argument is his assertion that the soldiers of the Army of the Ohio were loyal to each other and their units rather than to the army itself because of the organizational structure of the force. While this appears to be true, Prokopowicz avoids outright condemnation of the commanders whose job it was to form these disparate groups into a cohesive force. As commander of the army for a very important and active year, Don Carlos Buell did little to endear himself to his men. He spent much of his time in his tent and made only infrequent trips among the men, making speeches and generally being seen. Although history has highlighted many of Buell’s weaknesses, his aloofness in the eyes of his men may have been his greatest failure.
All for the Regiment provides readers with the first considerable work of modern scholarship on the Army of the Ohio. Prokopowicz offers a thought-provoking thesis and makes an effective argument which should serve to elicit further investigation. With organizational and administrative histories becoming more popular within the discipline, All for the Regiment should not only provide information, but also see considerable use within the frameworks of future examinations of the Civil War.
Brian D. McKnight, Mississippi State University
Rio Grande: From Baptists and Bevo to the Bell Tower, 1876-2001. By Abby Gail Goodnite and Ivan M. Tribe (Ashland, Kent.: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2002. xi + 420p.; illustrations, appendixes. $25.00 cloth; $15.00 paper.)
The 125-year history of Rio Grande College and University, located deep in Appalachian Ohio, is a delightful story of a resourceful and eclectic educational institution. For much of its life, this tiny college has survived on little more than spit and vinegar, blessed by a persistently supportive community and occasionally by good luck. Compared to today’s higher education of multi-million dollar budgets, ten-year plans, and complicated administrative bureaucracies, the story of this modest institution with its intentionally humble goals is an inspiration.
This history of Rio Grande, coauthored by a recent graduate and a senior professor at what is now the University of Rio Grande, captures much of the unique story of “Old Rio.” Founded by a Free Will Baptist in 1876, the college was at various times an independent Christian college, a regional teachers college, and a junior college. By the middle of the century, well over half of Rio Grande’s enrollments were in summer or extension classes, and most enrolled students did not matriculate. In 1969, the college was accredited by North Central Association as a four-year private college with a state contract to offer two-year public community college courses. In 1989, the college changed its name to university, even as it remained a small undergraduate institution. Throughout this unusual history, Rio Grande has survived two major fires, inconsistent leadership, the loss of support from the Baptist Church, financial crises that led to the brink of closing, and investigations into academic quality.
Whatever its structure, the authors argue that the main objective of Rio Grande has been to take “persons from provincial lower-middle class and even lower class backgrounds and mold them into good teachers, business operatives, civil servants, technicians, and solid middle-class citizens capable of earning a living and making a positive contribution to society” (p. 383). Whatever Rio Grande is, it does its job well.
Above all, the authors argue, Rio Grande has been a citizen of Racoon Valley in Southern Ohio. To foster its links with the community, it has promoted itself as a “self-help college” which included the contribution of student labor to the construction of all campus buildings until the 1960s, and the welcoming of all local students at reduced fees. Community pride has contributed to a powerful student culture, which is amply described in the book with amusing entries from student publications. The athletic talents of Rio Grande overshadows most other attributes, especially the famous career of basketball player Bevo Francis who put Rio Grande on the map in the early 1950s by scoring 55 points in the final 10 minutes of a game, and averaging 50.1 points over a thirty-nine-game season. Less well known, but more characteristic of Rio Grande’s rebounding history, is that ten years before Bevo’s successes, the Rio Grande football team lost to Morehead State Teachers College by the remarkable score of 104-0.
Like many local histories, this book often collapses under the weight of excessive details about student activities, sports, and the biographies of faculty, presidents, and other major leaders. A broader and less precise narrative might have raised interesting interpretive questions, such as the extent to which this rural coeducational college furthered the career aspirations of country women, and the nature of the college’s link to a developing Appalachian identity in the region. Also suggestive is the rich life of Rio Grande faculty: an energetic corps of men and women who arrived on campus with minimal preparation for college teaching, and who shaped the institution by the modeling of their own willingness to be creatively involved in the community. This is an institution with a rich cultural heritage of commitment to its mission, even as that mission rubbed against the demands of increasing accreditation and financial pressures. By surviving all of these challenges with its spirit intact, Rio Grande is one of the unheralded heroes of higher education in Ohio.
Kate Rousmaniere, Miami University (Ohio)
The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, Vol. 4, Presidential Messages to Congress. Edited by David H. Burton. (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2002. x + 368p.; $49.95.)
The fourth of eight volumes in The Collected Works of William Howard Taft, an edition published by Ohio University Press, presents scholars, students, and lay readers with a significant portion of the public documentary record of the Taft administration. The first two volumes in the collection, addresses delivered between 1895 and 1908, offer an excellent introduction to Will Taft’s social, political, and economic thought during that crucial apprenticeship period in which he prepared himself for the highest executive office. The third volume provides a collection of candidate and president Taft’s addresses and state papers, the public record of the administration from July 1908 to February 1910.
The fourth volume, Presidential Messages to Congress, presents nineteen documents addressing the most important issues of the twenty-seventh president’s administration from December 1910 until his final day in office, March 4, 1913. Most significant among these documents are the annual messages of 1910, 1911, and 1912, several messages on tariff policy and reciprocal trade with Canada, and three veto messages (New Mexico and Arizona statehood, woolen goods duties, and sundry civil appropriations).
This volume, like the earlier ones in the collected works, is extremely useful for scholars, particularly specialists of the presidency and executive-legislative relations. As editor Burton observes in his commentary, the presidential messages furnish “the public with a window on Taft’s leadership,” revealing the chief executive’s “well-thought-out advice to the law-making body.” (p. 1) His leadership, often underestimated by historians, can be seen in several messages, especially in his recommendation that Congress protect resident aliens against denials of civil rights guaranteed to them by treaties, with his strong support for Canadian reciprocity (free trade) agreements that were unpopular with many leaders of corporate America, and with his advocacy of the arbitration of international disputes.
In addition, Presidential Messages to Congress demonstrates Taft’s advocacy of a unique strain of what several historians have labeled a “public interest liberalism.” As Editor Burton points out, these documents reveal Taft’s genuine concern for Americans from all walks of life. No better example of this trait can be found than the president’s message supporting the findings of the Employers’ Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Commission. It is clear that the president was troubled by both the human cost and the economic cost of industrial accidents, and desired “to secure justice to the weaker party under existing modern conditions” as well as alleviate excessive burdens of litigation on his beloved court system. (P. 253) The first four volumes of the Collected Works of William Howard Taft reveal much about Taft’s own liberalism. They document his advocacy of a strong reformist agenda, but an agenda limited by the federal Constitution and, as these presidential messages remind us, also limited by a quest for “economy and efficiency” (p. 260). In short, these volumes reveal Taft to be industrious, not lazy, public-spirited, not cold-hearted; the first two volumes place Taft, the lieutenant, one step behind Roosevelt, his captain; the next two volumes place him alongside Roosevelt and Wilson in the ranks of progressive presidents.
Historians who must consult the official record of Taft’s administration will find volumes three and four in this edition indispensable. Those scholars who desire to comprehend this least known, and most enigmatic, of Progressive Era presidents will find volume four extremely useful. David H. Burton has made yet another important contribution to historical scholarship of the Progressive Era; Ohio University Press has produced yet another attractive, well-designed volume in The Collected Works of William Howard Taft.
Clarence E. Wunderlin Jr., Kent State University
The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy. By Strobe Talbott. (New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc., 2002. x + 478p.; photographs, chronology, notes, index. $29.95.)
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union inaugurated a new era in U.S. foreign relations. The old relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union was redefined into a new one between the United States and Russia; decades-old working assumptions were refashioned; the nation’s longtime enemy became a potential partner. Strobe Talbott’s seven-year service as Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of state placed him in the thick of this key reformulation, and his highly readable and often entertaining The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy contains much of value for historians of many fields of specialization. It will also be of interest to determined general readers.
It is possible to glean from Talbott’s book the impression that while the economy may have been the focus of candidate Clinton’s 1992 election strategy, once he attained the presidency the mantra became “It’s Russia, stupid” instead. Clinton met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin eighteen times, took a deep, personal interest in the Russian policy of his administration, and is arguably (if not intentionally) the “Russia hand” in the book’s title. He developed an odd (at least to Talbott) affinity for his Russian counterpart and seemed determined to assist him domestically at almost all costs. Focusing on the Clinton-Yeltsin relationship throughout the volume, Talbott provides historians with an excellent case study of personal diplomacy in action. This is easily one of the book’s most valuable contributions for scholars.
In addition to laying bare the Clinton-Yeltsin relationship, Talbott also sheds important, and early, light on many of the foreign policy controversies of the Clinton administration. Old issues, such as nuclear weapons, receive their due here. But it is Talbott’s insights into new issues, such as the crises in the Balkans, Chechnya, the enlargement of NATO, and Russia’s rocky road to political democracy and economic normalcy, that are most valuable. Historians will find much to mine here, for Talbott is a keen observer and makes good use of the detailed diary he kept during his stint in the administration. He is also the first high-ranking foreign policy insider of the administration to pen his memoirs, and he has much to tell that is useful.
These strengths aside, readers looking for penetrating analysis will undoubtedly be disappointed with The Russia Hand. To be sure, Talbott provides a detailed look at how U.S. thinking on Russia evolved during the critical early post-Cold War period and how that thinking was translated into policy. He also provides important material for those wishing to see Bill Clinton’s personal diplomacy in operation. What he does not provide is much in the way of what historians often call the “why” question. Why one course of action was chosen over another. Why Clinton invested so much in Yeltsin, beyond a weird sort of personal simpatico. Why a president who came to office clearly focused on domestic policy became so determined to make his mark in foreign policy and especially in policy with Russia. And so on. The answers to these questions are not found in Talbott’s memoir, perhaps by design. Still, this is a valuable early look into Clinton administration foreign policy by a well-placed and perceptive insider. Scholars of U.S. foreign relations, modern America, and U.S.-Russian relations will read it with profit, as will general readers with the patience to wade through what often amounts to extremely detailed policy discussion. Talbott, who went on to head the Brookings Institution after leaving government service, has written a solid and useful memoir that may now set the standard for his successors.
Mary Ann Heiss, Kent State University
The Vietnam War on Trial: The My Lai Massacre and the Court-Martial of Lieutenant Calley. By Michal R. Belknap. (Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 2002. xiv + 298p.; chronology, bibliographical essay, index. $35.00 cloth; $15.95 paper.)
On March 16, 1968, an infantry company in the makeshift “Task Force Barker” from the 11th Brigade of the U.S. Army’s Americal Division massacred approximately 350 defenseless civilians at the hamlet of My Lai in Quang Ngai Province, Republic of Vietnam. It also committed numerous sexual offenses such as gang rape and sexual mutilation. The My Lai atrocity, America’s most abominable Vietnam war crime, was an outgrowth of the failure of commanders to monitor and control their troops. Thereafter, these same commanders and their staff officers either failed to do much to find out what had really happened in My Lai or engaged in a deliberate cover-up. Thanks to Ronald L. Ridenhour, a former soldier who was outraged by the events at My Lai and would not let them be kept from the public, the story of My Lai eventually became public knowledge, prompting the army in 1970-1971 to file criminal charges against fourteen officers and men for committing serious offenses in My Lai and against thirteen officers implicated in the cover-up. In the end, however, only Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader, was convicted of anything, while Major General Samuel Koster, commander of the Americal Division, received a one-grade reduction in rank and Brigadier General George Young, his deputy, an official censure.
Although many accounts about My Lai have appeared, The Vietnam War on Trial surpasses all of them in its coverage, research, and clarity. In it Michal R. Belknap, an army lieutenant in Vietnam and presently a professor at California Western School of Law, examines every aspect of the My Lai tragedy, from the massacre itself, through the cover-up, to the trials of the accused and the ultimate resolution of their cases. Focusing on Calley, a poor officer who never would have been commissioned except for the army’s pressing need for second lieutenants, Belknap shows how his court martial quickly became a political trial. It was not so much about whether Calley had murdered civilians (he had), but how the American people saw him, the army, and the Vietnam War itself.
To supporters of the war, Calley was a victim, a soldier who was only doing his duty and then was prosecuted by a government that did not stand by its men in the field and would not go all out to win the war. To opponents of the war, Calley was a scapegoat for civilian and military leaders who had sent the army to Vietnam to fight a mistaken war and permitted it to wage the war in a brutal manner that inevitably led to unnecessarily high civilian casualties. President Richard M. Nixon added to the controversy by shamelessly exploiting Calley’s trial for his own political purposes. The final outcome of the My Lai affair, like so much about Vietnam, was ambiguous. While found guilty of murder and initially sentenced to life in prison, Calley was paroled in November 1974, having been confined to house arrest at his quarters at Fort Benning, Georgia, for a few years and serving only a few months in a military prison.
Belknap’s book is a valuable addition to the literature on Vietnam. Clearly written and solidly researched in White House and military records and published sources, it stands out for its vivid descriptions of the major personalities, careful delineation of how the system of military justice actually functions, and insightful discussion of how one man’s fate came to symbolize the nation’s divisions about its most controversial war. An ideal supplement for courses on the Vietnam War, The Vietnam War on Trial is a must read for those seeking to understand the My Lai massacre and its significance.
John Kennedy Ohl, Mesa Community College
Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg. By Richard A. Baumgartner. (Huntington, W.Va.: Blue Acorn Press, 2003. 253 p.; illustrations, appendixes, notes, bibliography, index. $30.00. )
Continually engaging the reader’s imagination, Richard A. Baumgartner deftly recounts the action of the nineteen Ohio units that fought at Gettysburg. By using the Ohioans’ own words, the author lets the reader experience those perilous days of July 1863. While other books describe the Gettysburg battlefield, its major actions, and starring figures, this compilation transforms the soldiers and officers of the Buckeye State’s regiments into human beings, worthy of the reader’s compassion and respect.
From Chancellorsville to their celebration of Gettysburg’s fiftieth anniversary, the Buckeyes’ arduous physical and moral journey started immediately after having their reputation impugned by other Union troops for retreating before Stonewall Jackson’s devastating thrust at Chancellorsville. As the seminal battle drew nearer, the reconstituted Ohio regiments relished the chance to reclaim their honor. Fifty years later, the Ohio veterans gathered to rededicate their regimental monuments, their living and dead comrades, and their considerable accomplishments defending Cemetery Hill on 2 July and Culp’s Hill the next day.
The Ohioans’ experiences, eloquently self-expressed and competently compiled by Baumgartner, reinforce two universal constants of war, a battlefield’s desperate fury and the brotherhood of men under fire. Letters, diaries, reminiscences (all sometimes quoted for paragraphs), and newspaper articles (many of which the soldiers themselves wrote) evoke the battle’s chaos and confusion. Racing to halt the Confederate advance north of Gettysburg on 1 July, Captain Alfred Lee, 82d Ohio, wrote, “The shells and shot howled, shrieked and plunged through the air like infuriated demons. . . . Now a huge iron nugget plowed its way through the living mass, leaving in its track eight poor fellows torn and bleeding. The deadly ‘thug,’ and a submissive groan or two is all that is heard. Again and again the jagged fragments of iron sweep through the ranks, but there is no wavering . . . (p. 42). By thoughtfully positioning photographs of the quoted soldiers near their words, a more human face of battle emerges. The author quotes 160 Ohioans—roughly 3.6 percent of the regiments’ participants—of which 60 percent were officers and the balance mostly from enlisted men with only a few representative non-commissioned officers.
Beyond the battle itself, the author also discusses Gettysburg’s immediate and long-term aftermath—for example, the medical work furiously and hastily performed during those three oppressive days, soldiers returning home to their welcoming families, and the unfortunate circumstances of the Confederate-held Ohio prisoners of war. Of particular interest are the Ohio dignitaries’ up-close observations during the battlefield’s dedicatory ceremonies of November 1863, sitting only a few feet away from President Abraham Lincoln when he delivered his famous address.
Pleasantly reminiscent of Bell I. Wiley’s The Life of Billy Yank (1952), Baumgartner describes the Buckeyes as they marched to and fought at Gettysburg, but in a more generalized portrait. Beyond the desire to restore their tainted honor, the author does not discuss their motivation as found in Gerald Linderman’s Embattled Courage (1987) or James McPherson’s For Cause and Comrades (1997), though the reader easily feels the Buckeyes’ comradery. Baumgartner comes closer to Earl Hess’s The Union Soldier in Battle (1997), which, like Buckeye Blood, captures the battlefield’s mind-numbing process whereby a soldier’s universe shrinks to an area bounded by comrades on either side and the oncoming enemy.
÷he endnotes and bibliography are both extensive and exemplary. The book’s one major deficiency is that the maps lack topographical detail, which limits an understanding of how terrain helped and hindered the troops’ movements and fields of fire. In Civil War literature, this book is a welcome addition. Instead of another book that depicts the battle by describing the movements of faceless units, individual Ohio soldiers have a name, a face, and a history, all of which compel the reader’s personal involvement, to wit: the reader becomes a Buckeye, caring for fellow Buckeyes.
Thomas H. Berg, University of Nebraska-Lincoln