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The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War by Caleb Smith (review)

The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War by Caleb... more well-known factors leading to secession, including competing ideol- ogies of slavery and wage labor, federalism and states’ rights, and industri- alization and agriculture. Furthermore, although Shelden quantifi es and corroborates when the sources allow it, they often do not, and much of the importance of the social and interpersonal factors on congressmen’s politi- cal actions and decisions has to be inferred. Shelden shows, for instance, that there was a great deal of activity in cross-sectional, cross-partisan associations, but with the exception of her analysis of the Young Indian Club, there is little to suggest to what extent membership in such associa- tions infl uenced congressmen’s political decision making. Shelden color- fully and convincingly demonstrates that these men had complicated and signifi cant personal relationships with each other, but the extent to which these relationships aff ected policy is often, and necessarily, only assumed. Despite this uncertainty, the weight and force of Shelden’s evidence of this strong fraternal culture should convince readers that the unique atmo- sphere of antebellum Washington, D.C., deserves consideration in an anal- ysis of sectional crisis politics. While the factual overviews that open each chapter provide a good amount of background detail on the events http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of the Civil War Era University of North Carolina Press

The Oracle and the Curse: A Poetics of Justice from the Revolution to the Civil War by Caleb Smith (review)

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright @ The University of North Carolina Press
ISSN
2159-9807

Abstract

more well-known factors leading to secession, including competing ideol- ogies of slavery and wage labor, federalism and states’ rights, and industri- alization and agriculture. Furthermore, although Shelden quantifi es and corroborates when the sources allow it, they often do not, and much of the importance of the social and interpersonal factors on congressmen’s politi- cal actions and decisions has to be inferred. Shelden shows, for instance, that there was a great deal of activity in cross-sectional, cross-partisan associations, but with the exception of her analysis of the Young Indian Club, there is little to suggest to what extent membership in such associa- tions infl uenced congressmen’s political decision making. Shelden color- fully and convincingly demonstrates that these men had complicated and signifi cant personal relationships with each other, but the extent to which these relationships aff ected policy is often, and necessarily, only assumed. Despite this uncertainty, the weight and force of Shelden’s evidence of this strong fraternal culture should convince readers that the unique atmo- sphere of antebellum Washington, D.C., deserves consideration in an anal- ysis of sectional crisis politics. While the factual overviews that open each chapter provide a good amount of background detail on the events

Journal

The Journal of the Civil War EraUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Feb 5, 2015

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