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The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics [Book Review]

Kousser, J. Morgan (1985) The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics [Book Review]. American Historical Review, 90 (1). pp. 228-229. ISSN 0002-8762. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20131009-102205329

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Abstract

Historians have failed to understand the phenomenon of early twentieth-century southern demagoguery, Raymond Arsenault contends, because they have focused too much on the personalities and shenanigans of individual leaders and too little on the responses of voters. From 1898 to 1912, as an Arkansas attorney general, governor, and U.S. senator, Jeff Davis's mass base was rural and was attracted to him, Arsenault speculates, by a desire to resist the modernizing culture of towns and cities and its symbolic instrument, the railroad. Whereas in the 1880s and 1890s, Arkansas Wheelers and Populists had gained near-majority popular support for significant economic and social change, the gentry- baiting, Yankee-baiting, race-baiting Davis, who filled the political air with irresponsible charges about his opponents but never carried through on any judicial, executive, or legislative program, offered the hicks only a "politics of catharsis" (p. 15), a rhetorical denigration of their geographically or racially distinct adversaries. Less neatly separated into politically relevant social groups than their ethnically and religiously divided northern counterparts and largely protected, as a result of disfranchisement, against racial and partisan schisms, voters in the disorganized and restricted one-party Arkansas electorate, Arsenault conjectures, were skeptical of governmental activism and were consequently well satisfied to attend Davis's breadless circuses.


Item Type:Article
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http://www.jstor.org/stable/1860919PublisherBook Review
Additional Information:© 1985 Oxford University Press. Book review of: The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics by Raymond Arsenault. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984. ISBN: 9780877223269
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131009-102205329
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20131009-102205329
Official Citation:The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics by Raymond Arsenault Review by: J. Morgan Kousser The American Historical Review , Vol. 90, No. 1 (Feb., 1985), pp. 228-229 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1860919
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:41806
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: SWORD User
Deposited On:09 Oct 2013 17:29
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 05:52

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