Saturday, September 25, 2010

Legal History in the JAH

The September 2010 issue of the Journal of American History, now available on-line in the (gated) History Cooperative website, is full of legal history (in the expansive Hurstian sense of the term). Here are the articles, authors and abstracts:

Smuggling, Globalization, and America's Outward State, 1870-1909, by Andrew Wender Cohen, Syracuse University:
Questioning depictions of the post-Reconstruction federal government as weak, Andrew Wender Cohen argues that although the U.S. government was limited domestically, it was empowered to regulate foreign trade, enforce borders, and assert the nation's economic interests abroad, creating an "outward state." By profiling women, wealthy tourists, Chinese immigrants, and Jews as potential smugglers, customs officials used their authority to define America as a masculine, white, Christian republic.
Remembering Dinah Nevil: Strategic Deceptions in Eighteenth-Century Antislavery, by Kirsten Sword:
Dinah Nevil's prerevolutionary suit for legal freedom prompted the formation of the world's first antislavery organization. Kirsten Sword reconstructs the story of Nevil's case and the politically driven efforts of a group of propagandists to obscure it. Sword suggests how the legacy of these politically motivated strategic deceptions remains evident in contemporary historical debates about the origins of antislavery, as well as in the differing ways Britons and Americans teach and commemorate antislavery as a social movement.
Samuel Gridley Howe, the Black Population of Canada West, and the Racial Ideology of the "Blueprint for Radical Reconstruction" by Matthew Furrow:
Interviews conducted by the American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission during the Civil War were used to support the commission's policy recommendations during the debates over Reconstruction. Many of the commissioners' recommendations purportedly relied on the testimony of blacks in Canada West. In fact, however, much of the black testimony was ignored in favor of the commissioners' preconceptions. Matthew Furrow contrasts the black interviewees' testimony with the commission's conclusions and examines how political pressures and pseudoscientific racial attitudes undermined planning for Reconstruction.
Out of the Revolution, into the Mainstream: Employment Activism in the NOW Sears Campaign and the Growing Pains of Liberal Feminism by Katherine Turk:
Katherine Turk examines transformations in the structure, tactics, and objectives of the National Organization for Women (NOW). Her analysis of the NOW employment rights campaign against Sears, Roebuck, and Company, which was conceived and driven by the nascent Chicago chapter in the early 1970s and abandoned by a changing national organization several years later, reveals that as liberal feminism grew into a nationally consistent movement, early commitments to local improvisation and socioeconomic justice were lost.
Pictured is an illustration from Cohen's article. Its caption reads: "From 1869 to 1874, Special Treasury Agent Benaiah G. Jayne (left) scourged New York importers, confiscating their records in search of evidence of undervaluation. This illustration shows the prominent lawyer William Stanley (sitting right) insisting that Jayne's tactics are unconstitutional. Between the two men is U.S. Attorney George Bliss. 'Custom House Seizures-A Cartoon for the Times,' Daily Graphic, Aug. 22, 1873, p. 361."