A History of Oklahoma. By Grant Foreman. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942. xiii + 382 pages. Thirty-five illustrations, bibliography and index. $3.50.)
The author points out in the preface that "The history of no other state derived from more fundamentally distinctive natural forces, conditions, trends, and developments—bewildering questions of public policy, difficult problems of reconciling the operation of the laws of nature with Indian rights, private greed, and national honor—than the state that was refused admission to the Union until she had half as many people as were in the Thirteen Original Colonies at the close of the Revolution." In his own words, "The author has endeavored in this history to describe and place in order and relation some of the conditions, influences, and movements in the Southwest that eventuated in the present state of Oklahoma."
The book is divided into 25 chapters. In the first nine are traced the earliest white contacts with the Indians of this region, the removals and organizations of the Five Civilized Tribes into self-governing entities and the presentation of problems arising in frontier settlements and contacts. Here Foreman presents, from his unexcelled fund of knowledge and research, much hitherto undisclosed data on river navigation and historic routes of travel, frontier commerce, early merchandising, and pioneer industries that flourished before the Civil War.
Chapters ten through thirteen bring out all the ugly phases of Civil War and Reconstruction in the Indian country. The next four chapters deal with the Reservation Indians, ranching, railroads, boomers, and tribal difficulties. Chapters 18 through 23 present the problems of white settlement from the time of the various openings, the monumental work of the Dawes Commission that brought about the dissolution of tribal government by the Five Civilized Tribes, the various attempts to win statehood, and the subsequent administration of state government to 1931. The final chapters deal with the industrial development of Oklahoma, with particular stress upon oil and gas, railroads, and the telephone, followed by a discussion of education and the work of the School Land Commission. Foreman has drawn from numerous unpublished manuscripts, federal, Indian, territorial, and state reports as well as the more commonly known published works.
Foreman's book is a compound of political, industrial, economic, and social history; there is material on every page for the student who majors in Oklahoma History. Many will read with nostalgic interest his description of the lives of the pioneers who settled Oklahoma Territory (pp. 264-268); others who lived in one of the Indian Nations will appreciate the clarity with which he presents the establishment of federal courts (pp. 278-286), the Strip Payment in the Cherokee Nation (pp. 275-277), strike-breakers in the Choctaw
Nation (pp. 277-278), the, Work of the Dawes Commission (chapters 20 and 21), and the railroad problem (pp. 172-186, 205-212, 231-234, 292-293, 336-338). Nor does he gloss over the speed with which grafters gained possession of Indian allotments. When Congress removed restrictions on the alienation of lands of Negro allottees of the Cherokee Nation on April 21, 1904, a majority sold their 120 acres for cash, soon squandered (p. 307), and when mixed-bloods of this tribe had restrictions removed on August 8, 1907 the tribal attorney reported that by 1 P. M. "deeds covering half of the lands of the Creek Nation so affected were executed and delivered to well-organized land buyers, in many cases for inadequate consideration, and that these considerations were frittered away in a few weeks" (p. 350). Members of other tribes did likewise, and poverty took up permanent abode in homes once free. The few exceptions were Indians who adjusted themselves to the new conditions, tribesmen who benefitted from oil and gas leases, and the Osages with communal benefits from their mineral resources.
Detailed attention is given the pre-statehood plans formulated in the territories. The Constitutional Convention and the work of the first legislature are comprehensively dealt with and the administration of Governor Williams is cited as outstanding. Foreman shows how the tragic gasoline explosion at Ardmore reacted in favor of the railroads; he portrays the evils attendant to the exploitation of mineral resources; the embarrassment caused by establishing county divisions in the constitution; the formation of militia organizations and their activities in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Attention is paid the administration by the School Land Commission of its properties to June 30, 1938. All these diverse subjects are handled adequately.
Foreman voices this plea in his closing sentence: "With the wealth Oklahoma's resources have poured into the laps of fortune's elect, the means are at hand, often employed in older civilizations, for making obeisance to culture with material offerings that rescue otherwise undistinguished donors from obscurity and clothe them in the habiliments of enlightened public benefactors, whose memories are cherished and honored."
The value of the book is increased by the great number of pictures and maps. Students will find the six page bibliography and the eighteen pages of index useable and stimulating for research.
—J. S. Clark.
The Man Who Sold Louisiana (The Career of Francois Barbe-Marbois). By E. Wilson Lyon. (Norman. The University of Oklahoma Press, 1942. xix + 240 pp. Bibliography and index. $2.75.)
The author presents a man, caught in the web of servility attendant of bureaucracy, who typifies those thousands who keep the machinery of government moving and assures their superiors a place in the pages of history. Barbe-Marbois entered public service in
France in 1768 and held various posts continuously until 1834, with the exception of two and one-half years spent as a prisoner in Guinea under the Directory, 1797-1800, and during the Hundred Days, 1814. He devoted himself to the detailed drudgery which these offices requires; but he was also interested in his surroundings and published numerous books, pamphlets, and articles growing out of his career. His best known work, Histoire de la Louisiana, was completed and published when he was 84 years of age.
Marbois began his career as a minor diplomat to various German Courts where experience taught him that bureaucracy respected adaptability more than courage and that subserviency was more appreciated than originality. He served faithfully in various diplomatic posts, in municipal offices and in legislative, judicial, and administrative positions as he learned to color his actions to suit the temper of his superior, whether this was Louis XVI, the National Convention, leaders of the Five Hundred and the Ancients, the First Consul, the Emperor, Louis XVIII, Charles X, or Louis Philippe.
As secretary of the French legation in the United States, 1779-1785, he became intimately acquainted with American revolutionary leaders and members of Congress. He married Elizabeth Moore, daughter of William Moore, a former president of the Executive Council of Pennsylvania.
Marbois is remembered by us for his part in the sale of Louisiana, 1803, a transaction in which he drove a shrewd bargain and won the praise of Napoleon. But his chief renown came from the presidency of the Cour Des Comptes, the auditing bureau, which was one of the great administrative achievements of Napoleon. With the exception of the Hundred Days, Marbois held this position continuously from 1807 to 1834—until he was ninety years of age.
Problems he faced during the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Era, and the Restoration are as modern as today's newspaper. Confiscation of church properties forced the government to dispense charity; when Marbois became Mayor of Metz he was faced with the problem of feeding 34,000 of the 40,000 inhabitants. Later, as Minister of Finance for Napoleon, he was concerned with finding new sources of revenue to avert a financial crash at home while the Emperor carried his military campaigns to Austria and Russia. Speculation, inflation, a run on the Bank of France, and the flight of specie from France, coupled with the fact that Napoleon never troubled about the financing of his military campaigns, added to the difficulties of his position. Marbois was relieved when Napoleon, prompted by an impetuous decision, requested his resignation. There-
after most of his attention was given to the auditing bureau, but he found time to do much writing, to improve his estate, to give bequests to schools and charity, and to investigate the penal system of France. He was a pioneer of prison reform, and an early advocate of indeterminate sentences.
Professor Lyon has made an able presentation of this careerist, and the University of Oklahoma Press has maintained its high standard of workmanship in the make-up of the book.
—J. S. Clark.
Uncle Sam's Stepchildren: The Reformation of United States Indian Policy, 1865-1887. By Loring Benson Priest. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1942. x + 310 pp. $3.75.)
This book gives a remarkably comprehensive and well written treatment of Federal Indian policy from the close of the Civil War to the passage of the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887. It is of peculiar interest to Oklahomans. The preliminary steps in the "reform"—the policy of concentrating Indians in the Indian Territory, the feud between the Department of the Interior and the War Department, the nomination of Indian agents by religious denominations, the appointment and influence of the Board of Indian Commissioners, the abolition of the treaty system and the undermining of tribal autonomy, the expenditure of annuities, the reservation system, and the efforts to educate the Indians—have been of profound influence in the Indian period of the state's history. And the allotment of the Indian reservations and the opening of the surplus land to homesteaders under the Dawes Severalty Act resulted in the dramatic "Runs" and ushered in the modern period of white dominance.
Some fault may be found with the author's thesis that there was decided change in Indian policy during the period under discussion, and that its development constituted a "reform." And he has forced all his facts into an artificial unity of presentation that often distorts their true significance. But he has produced an excellent book. Within the limitations fixed by his own hypothesis he has been thorough in his research, objective in his reasoning, and surprisingly aware of the hidden forces at work behind his neat arrangement of topics and sub-topics.
The volume is a joy to handle, beautifully bound and clearly typed. It has an excellent index and superb documentation arranged in a new and convenient form. It should be read by every student interested in Indian affairs or in the forces that lie behind the historyof our state.
Belle Starr, "The Bandit Queen." By Burton Rascoe. Illustrated. (New York, Random House, 1941. 340 pp.)
This interesting but vague account of the life of Belle Starr, or Myra Shirley, and other bandits offers good criticism of other authorities, pointing out weaknesses in the logic and exactness of their accounts. But it does not reach many definite conclusions labeled as sure facts.
The author concedes, but does not prove the date and place of Belle Starr's birth, as in or near Carthage, Missouri, or on a farm near Shirley, Missouri, February 5, 1848. He gives her death as occurring in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, February 3, 1889. The only proved records of Bell Starr's life exist in court records, although literature and folklore furnish a wealth of legend.
The book contains a chronology and necrology, glossary, a good critical bibliographical review, an index, and thirteen illustrations.
—Floyd C. Shoemaker.
State Historical Society of Missouri.
America's Own Refugees. By Henry Hill Collins, Jr. (Princeton, N. J.,; Princeton University Press, 1941. 323 pp. $3.00.)
"Our 4,000,000 homeless migrants" is the sub-title of this passionate and somewhat dramatic reading from eleven volumes of Congressional hearings on interstate migration held in 1940-41. Collins has plunged into this great mass of testimony heels over head, and emerged to shout a warning to America that none of us can feel secure in this changing world.
Some of the people he writes about are from farms; more are from towns and cities; all, he believes, are victims of an out-of-balance economy in search of jobs and security. In fact, they are largely the unemployables among our working population, comprising the chronically shiftless and nomadic small fraction that has always been a problem. They are largely the social casualties resulting from abuse of farm land—single-cropping, erosion, soil-mining—from large scale tractor farming, from seasonal employment in mines, the building trades, from shut-down factories.
The plight of the four million seems to Collins to call for comprehensive measures of farm rehabilitation; co-operative farming so that men who "do not like to raise a garden and tend cows before breakfast and after supper" may do more agreeable work and buy their vegetables and milk. He suggests that the Government take over privately owned forest lands and put them in charge of these jobless. The 50 million dollars a year the Government is now spending on soil conservation, he says, is "ludiciously inadequate."
The bulk of the book is made up of case histories of families like the Joads in Grapes of Wrath, and of itinerant industrial workers. These come out of the Congressional Committee hearings, are authentic and striking. Collins' inferences, accusations of American economy, suggested remedies, and heated language are his own.
So sweeping is his condemnation of economic conditions that, in his view, have condemned the four millions to involuntary vagrancy that some of us readers will seek such an antidote as is supplied by another Congressional inquiry of 1939-40 into the life insurance companies. Here one finds that our population of approximately 130 million are paying for 124 million life insurance policies of a face value of 113 billion dollars—an average of $870 each. These same readers may seek further reassurance in the fact that, besides such enormous savings as go to purchase security in life insurance companies, there are some 40 billion dollars in various institutions belonging to many millions of thrifty wage and salary workers.
At one point in the book, Mr. Collins pictures the shack towns of Oklahoma City in 1941 as housing "thousands of migrants and stranded migrants in a state of deep degradation and squalor," and adds, "in stench, filth and general debased living there was little to choose between May Avenue and Elm Grove." Isn't this a bit exaggerated?
Overemphasis and exaggeration, accepted as legitimate devices of the novelist, have hurt Collins' presumably objective condensation of the Congressional committee's exhaustive hearings on migration.
—John M. Oskison.
The Battle for Municipal Reform. By C. W. Patton (American Council on Public Affairs, Washington, D. C., 1940.)
Four things may well be said for this brief but very readable recent publication. Surely no one will deny that the book is timely. Beginning with the year 1875, the author traces the history of crookedness and perfidity in city government so skillfully and clearly that the reader is awakened to the widespread need of housecleaning in our present day cities. Not only are the facts revealed and analyzed, but an ameliorative tone pervades the entire volume with an intensity that almost reaches the crusader zeal. This is a fine commentary for the work because the days of corruption are not passed by any means.
It is terse. Nowhere will the reader find more facts, more good references, more needful information packed into ninety pages of reading matter. Copious footnotes bespeak a breadth of knowledge, variety of sources, and scholarly references not usually found in many volumes of much greater length. The fourteen page bibliography offers an exceptional array of material for further study and research. However, terseness has not been achieved at the expense of clarity for the work is full enough to make it intensely interesting and profitable reading.
It is thoughtful. It is one thing to see a need; quite another to be able to do something about a discovered need. The average citizen bemoans civic corruption but makes little effort to change the picture. This book offers an analysis far beyond the average
and shows clearly the depth of thought into which the author has plunged. This reviewer would dare to venture the wish that Mr. Patton would even yet come out with an additional chapter in which definite formulae for future handling of municipal programs would be laid down. His masterful analysis of former situations especially qualify him for this much needed practical, workable, and approved pattern which could be followed somewhat as our Constitution.
It is thorough. As suggested previously, the treatise thoroughly covers the salient phases of the period from 1875 to 1900. The author spent many years of research in libraries of this and foreign countries, carefully examining original manuscripts and other available source material. With unusual patience, perseverance, and energy, he has gone to the heart of his material and has produced a finished discussion free from ambiguities and superfluities.
It is one production that could well be used in worthwhile propaganda for better municipal government and efficiency. It is altogether a much needed message to American taxpayers and merits the earnest attention of citizens everywhere. Finally, the book has the blessings of Professor Arthur M. Schlessinger, who wrote the introduction, in which he says, "Nowhere else are the salient facts so conveniently presented or so cogently analyzed."
Oklahoma Baptist University.
—Fred G. Watts.
The March of the Mounted Riflemen. Edited by Raymond W. Settle. Number three, Northwest Historical Series. (Published by the Arthur H. Clark Company, Glendale, Calif., 1940, pp. 380.) It records the Journal of Major Osborne Cross, the diary of George Gibbs and the official report of Colonel William W. Loring.
This book impresses one first by its large size, large print, about 350 words to the page and twenty-two illustrations, nearly all of which were made during the expedition and therefore illustrate the country as it was at that time.
It is important because it tells of the first United States military expedition to travel the full length of the Orgeon Trail from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to Vancouver, Washington, from May to October 1849, a distance of about 2,000 miles. There were seven hundred horses in the U. S. Mounted Rifles, twelve hundred mules, a number of oxen, 171 wagons, and five hundred beef cattle were added 100 miles west of Fort Kearny. Now that makes a very large train and it takes a capable man to manage this transportation. Many of the mules were new and unbroken and many of the drivers they were forced to use were foreigners who did not understand mules or English for that matter. When the expedition reached Fort Kearny May 29, 1849, the found nearly 4,000 wagons had passed through that post up to that date. That would mean about 40,000 head of stock had been eating up pasture along the route, so it is not surprising to read that they sometimes drove seven miles to
pasture after arriving in camp and that meant they had to be driven seven miles back the next morning before they could start. Then to cap the climax, cholera broke out in the command with such virulence that some died the same day they took sick and desertions became frequent, consequently new men had to drive strange teams. Unless one has had some similar experience, it is hard to judge the difficulties of the Chief Quartermaster, Major Osborne Cross, on such an expedition and of his grave and continuous responsibility. He was ordered to write a report of his expedition each day, so that future expeditions might benefit by it. He was responsible that there be a minimum delay in route, that the animals' harness, wagons, and loads be kept in good condition and that in case of accident means for repair were available to prevent delay. He had to camp where the possibility of danger from floods, Indian raids and damage by storms could be avoided or minimized and where pasture, water, and wood could be found suitable for the expedition. He had to avoid California emigrants' camps where his stock might become mixed or stolen.
Major Cross's journal covers 142 pages and is surprisingly full of interesting details. It is hard to write interestingly after a long, hot, dusty march by the dim light of a flickering candle when one is interrupted constantly. He may have been interrupted too, while writing down his notes on horseback, the sweat from his dusty face may have blurred his handwriting or the restless horse may have moved or jerked his arm and yet everything of importance would still have to be noted.
I am particularly pleased with the "Diary of George Gibbs," the civilian artist and naturalist who accompanied the expedition. His love of literature and passion for outdoor life is evidenced by his invigorating diary. By the way, this diary was found in the New York Journal of Commerce a number of years ago by Dr. Grant Foreman who, learning that Harry R. Wagner was revising his bibliography in 1937 in connection with Cross's "Journal," gave him the information which he conspicuously acknowledged in his book.1 This Gibbs's diary is not complete; it ends at Fort Laramie and only covers the first third of the journey, in fifty-two pages.
Fortunately Gibbs had no responsibilities to worry him and could ride in advance of the train with the guide and so avoid the dust and dirt that hides the beauty of the country and objects of interest. He saw so many things that Major Cross might have seen but they did not register with him, for only the unusual registers in the mind of the busy man. Cross had made the long journey from Florida, after the Seminole War in 1842, with the Second Dragoons to west of the Mississippi. He served in the First Infantry as a Lieutenant with such men as Lieutenant Colonel David E.
1The Plains and the Rockies (Bibliography of Original Narratives of Travel and Adventure, 1800-1885), Second Edition, 1937.
Twiggs, W. S. Harney and Jefferson Davis who was to become secretary of war of the United States and president of the Confederate States. He served on the staff of General John E. Wool as chief quartermaster when Captain Robert E. Lee was chief topigraphical engineer, on the same staff, in their perfect march from San Antonio, Texas, to Buena Vista, Mexico. Consequently he must have availed himself through his contacts: The report of the regimental commander Brevet Colonel William Wing Loring covers only thirteen pages. This is the Loring who was stationed with the Mounted Rifles in Texas for five years and who was in command of the Department of New Mexico at the outbreak of the Civil War. He became a Major General in the Confederate Army and was Loring "Pasha " in Egypt where he served ten years and wrote A Confederate Soldier in Egypt.
The bibliography of this book is very good but might have included T. H. S. Hamersly's Army Register U. S. Army for 100 Years, 1789 to 1889 with its location of army posts and the date of their foundation and abandonment, and G. W. Cullums Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy, volume I ; and some data might be given why Major Cross was relieved from duty, 1858 to 1862 while awaiting trial and suspended from duty. In 1868, and up to the time of his death, the Army Register shows that he dropped the final "e" in his first name.
I am grateful to the editor for presenting this important subject so agreeably.
San Antonio, Texas,
—M. L. Crimmins.
Cow Country. By Edward Everett Dale. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942. ix + 265 pp. Illustrations. $2.75.)
Edward Everett Dale is more than a university professor who writes books. He is at once an old-timer, an institution and a prophecy, the incarnation of the spirit of Oklahoma—which will try anything once, is equally unafraid of privation and innovation, and refuses absolutely to admit that anything can be impossible.
He was born in the cross timbers of Texas, was brought up on a Texas farm, punched cattle in Texas and in old Greer County and ran his own brand from 1896-1901. When the nesters, drouths and panics put an end to the cow business, he began teaching school. He taught in dugouts and sod houses, served as principal and superintendent in raw new Oklahoma small towns. By 1911, he had an A. B. from O. U. and three years later yeas appointed instructor in history in that institution.
Many honors have come to him. He is a Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the Boston Author's club (by the way, the only Oklahoman listed by that august body); he spent the year 1925 as a research collaborator in the United States bureau of agriculture—from which grew his The Range Cattle Industry. He was a member
of the Indian survey commission, visiting every Indian reservation in the United States. He is trustee of the Frank Phillips historical collection, a member of a number of historical societies and a Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. He spends his summers teaching in such universities as Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, William and Mary; this summer he will be at Duke.
This new book, Cow Country, is based on a collection of essays and lectures, which, revised, form a complete picture of the Great Plains cattle range. Some of the chapters are personal, anecdotal, humorous, light-hearted; others seriously historical. Among the latter are original contributions to the science of history, as "Short Grass and Heather," and "The Cow Country in Transition." But in general the great charm and the great value of the book lies in the fact that it grew out of personal experience, love and enthusiasm. You can get the facts about the cattle country elsewhere—if you have time to dig for them—but this book makes the whole region, its people and its history, come to life.
Dale has written or compiled around a dozen other books, Territorial Acquisitions of the United States, Tales of the Teepee, Letters of LaFayette, Frontier Trails, and Cherokee Cavaliers (with Gaston L. Litton), among them. His contributions to magazines run into the hundreds; some of his pamphlets, and also The Range Cattle Industry have become collectors items, and are simply unobtainable. He has another book ready for the printer and several more planned.
Dale is one of the most versatile men alive. He is equally at home in the Library of Congress, addressing the Mississippi Valley Historical association, making a commencement address at a country school, or spinning yarns while broiling a steak over a campfire. Oklahoma without E. E. Dale would be unthinkable, and if you called him the best-loved man in the state, very few would contradict you.
—Kenneth C. Kaufman.
University of Oklahoma.