Historical Consciousness in the Early Republic: The Origins of State Historical Societies, Museums, and Collections, 1791-1862by H. G. Jones

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  • North Carolina Office of Archives and History

    Historical Consciousness in the Early Republic: The Origins of State Historical Societies,Museums, and Collections, 1791-1862 by H. G. JonesReview by: Alexander MooreThe North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 73, No. 4 (OCTOBER 1996), pp. 498-499Published by: North Carolina Office of Archives and HistoryStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23521478 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 14:13

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  • 498 Book Reviews

    Three items in the volume deserve special mention. The first, the longest item

    included, is a proposal from Jeremy Bentham to produce a law code for America based

    on his theories of universal knowledge. The second, Henry Lee's account of Gen. James

    Wilkinson's court marshall as a co-conspirator with Burr, calls upon Madison to remem

    ber and be careful of the rights of the accused, for "when the nation accuses, the defendant

    ought to be encouraged, not discouraged." The final item is Madison's explanation of his

    veto of a bill that would have granted public land in the Mississippi Territory to the Bap tist Church. He acted because he believed that "the practical distinction between Religion & Civil Govt was essential to both."

    Once again, the editors of the Madison Papers are to be congratulated for their continu

    ing excellent work.

    Peter V. Bergstrom

    Normal, Illinois

    Peter V. Bergstrom

    Historical Consciousness in the Early Republic: The Origins of State Historical Societies, Museums, and Collections, 1791-1862. Edited by H. G.Jones. (Chapel Hill: The North Caroliniana Society and the North Carolina Collection, 1995. Endpapers, frontispiece, preface, illustrations, index.

    Pp. x, 262. $15.00, plus shipping. Order from the Society of American Archivists, 600 South

    Federal, Suite 504, Chicago, IL 60605.)

    Any staff member of any of the historical societies named in this book will be im

    mersed in dj vu. When an executive director reads that Christopher Columbus

    Baldwin, librarian of the American Antiquarian Society, planted trees in the society's

    yard in 1834 "to afford a comfortable shade for my successor," he or she will sense an

    unseen hand on the other trash can handle. Every program director will sympathize

    with John Howland, president of the Rhode Island Historical Society in the 1830s, as he

    sweated out both the financial return and intellectual content of a lecture series.

    Ten essays comprise the main part of this work. They were presented at Chapel Hill

    in May 1994 at "For History's Sake: State Historical Collections in the Early Republic," a

    conference commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the North Carolina

    Collection at Chapel Hill. Taken together, they provide thumbnail sketches of the found

    ing and early organization of most of the nation's pre-Civil War historical societies.

    This review is too brief to name all of the essayists and their topics, but representa

    tive samples are Louis Leonard Tucker on the Massachusetts Historical Society (1791),

    the first in the nation; Susan Stitt on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1825); and Charles F. Bryan on the Virginia Historical Society (1831). They are good narra tive histories, identifying the founders and exploring some of the founders' motives.

    Leslie Fishel's essay on the State Historical Society of Wisconsin discusses the labors of Lyman C. Draper.

    The latter part of Historical Consciousness is devoted to publishing the proceedings of the 150th celebration of the North Carolina Collection. This part is payment of an honest debt of gratitude to the North Caroliniana Society for sponsoring the conference. H. G.

    Jones wisely points out in the preface that many of the founders of these societies did

    THE NORTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL REVIEW

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  • Book Reviews 499

    not profess to be historians but servants of them. Clio's servants have many tasks, and

    Historical Consciousness celebrates one group of them.

    Alexander Moore

    South Carolina Historical Society

    Alexander Moore

    Slaver/, Capitalism, and Politics in the Antebellum Republic. Vol. 1: Commerce and Compromise, 1820-1850. By John Ashworth. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Preface, acknowl

    edgments, introduction, conclusion, appendix, index. Pp. xii, 520. $19.95, paper; $64.95, cloth.)

    John Ashworth's work is the first of a two-volume monograph on slavery and capitalism as they relate to the development of the Second Party System and the origins of the

    Civil War in nineteenth-century America. Commerce and Compromise, 1820-1850 is

    best classified as a revisionist study: its uniqueness lies in Ashworth's redefinition or expan sion of such familiar Marxist terms as class, class consciousness, and class conflict. For

    example, Ashworth defines enslaved African Americans as a class. The constant

    threat of individual as well as collective black resistance in the South forced southern

    planters/statesmen to defend the existence and the extension of the institution westward.

    In essence, slavery became a positive alternative to northern wage labor. Though often

    at odds with the common definitions of such general terms, Ashworth's redefinitions are

    necessary to understand the impact of the political tension created in such issues as

    the 1820 Missouri debate, the Nullification crisis, and the Free-Soil movement. The Civil

    War, Ashworth concludes, was an inevitable conflict between the agrarian South and

    the capitalist North.

    Ashworth maintains that the Civil War was a bourgeois revolution driven by class con

    flict between those who supported wage labor and those who defended slave labor. As a

    consequence, much of the sectional conflict in the nineteenth century is the difference

    between capitalist and slave mode of production. While the book does not necessarily

    challenge the traditional Marxist interpretation of this period, it does provide a different

    and exciting insight into the crucial role of enslaved African Americans as active parti

    cipants in historical change. This study is highly recommended reading for Old South

    and African American scholars seeking to understand the relationship between Ameri

    can slave resistance, northern wage labor ideology, and the development of nineteenth

    century capitalism.

    Thaddeus Smith

    Middle Tennessee State University

    Thaddeus Smith

    In the Master's Eye: Representations of Women, Blacks, and Poor Whites in Antebellum Southern

    Literature. By Susan J. Tracy. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. Acknowledg

    ments, introduction, conclusion, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. Pp. ix, 307. $42.50.)

    Arguing that literature represents one of many ways in which "people in power institu

    tionalize their ideas," Susan J. Tracy examines antebellum southern literature to demon

    strate that "the proslavery argument concerns gender and class relations as well as race

    relations." Tracy explores both the characteristics and roles of female, black, and lower

    class white characters in "historical romance" novels written by George Tucker, James

    Ewell Heath, William Alexander Caruthers, John Pendleton Kennedy, Nathaniel Beverly

    VOLUME LXXIII NUMBER 4 OCTOBER 1996

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    Article Contentsp. 498p. 499

    Issue Table of ContentsThe North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 73, No. 4 (OCTOBER 1996), pp. 409-548Front MatterConfederate Shipbuilding on the Cape Fear River [pp. 409-434]"The March of the Destroyer": The New Bern Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1864 [pp. 435-483]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 484-485]Review: untitled [pp. 485-486]Review: untitled [pp. 486-487]Review: untitled [pp. 487-488]Review: untitled [pp. 488-489]Review: untitled [pp. 489-490]Review: untitled [pp. 490-492]Review: untitled [pp. 492-493]Review: untitled [pp. 493-494]Review: untitled [pp. 494-495]Review: untitled [pp. 495-496]Review: untitled [pp. 496-497]Review: untitled [pp. 497-498]Review: untitled [pp. 498-499]Review: untitled [pp. 499-499]Review: untitled [pp. 499-500]Review: untitled [pp. 500-501]Review: untitled [pp. 501-502]Review: untitled [pp. 502-503]Review: untitled [pp. 503-504]Review: untitled [pp. 504-505]Review: untitled [pp. 505-506]Review: untitled [pp. 506-507]Review: untitled [pp. 507-508]Review: untitled [pp. 508-509]OTHER RECENT PUBLICATIONS [pp. 509-512]

    Back Matter

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