Senator James Murray Mason : defender of the old South /
Robert W. Young.
1st ed.
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, c1998.
xvii, 288 p.
087049998X (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, c1998.
087049998X (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-09-01:
James Murray Mason, known primarily for his capture with John Slidell in the Trent affair, had a long and important political career, first in the US Senate and then as the Confederate ambassador to England. In this solid biography, Young argues persuasively that Mason became an anachronism in American politics. He tried desperately to preserve the deferential republic of his grandfather while the nation moved toward democracy and pluralistic politics. His narrow reading of the Constitution bordered on a procrustean original intent during an era when the meaning of that document was very much contested and its powers stretched to meet the needs of a growing nation. Finally, his stubborn, often fierce, defense of chattel slavery was, like the Confederacy itself, destroyed by the ascendancy of free labor. Mason's diplomatic career was no more successful. Unable to read British public opinion correctly and inclined to react to rather than influence Britain's policy toward the Confederacy, Mason spent four fruitless, frustrating years in England accomplishing little. The strength of this biography--its detailed narrative of Mason's public career--is also its weakness. It fills a gap in antebellum political history but adds few new insights to it. General readers; undergraduates, graduate students. M. Morrison Purdue University
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, February 1998
Choice, September 1998
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