Monday, June 10, 2013

June 2013 Journal of American History

The June 2013 issue of the Journal of American History is out. Here's a preview of the content (full text is limited to subscribers):

The House on Bayou Road: Atlantic Creole Networks in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Faubourg Tremé in New Orleans has been described as the oldest black neighborhood in America. In his article, Pierre Force uses as his starting point a dispute in 1813 over the payments for a house between a white man and a free man of color that took place in Tremé. Attempting to find out more about both parties to the case (won by the free man of color), Force reconstructs each man's family history and follows the archival track on a journey to Cuba, Haiti, France, Spain, and Senegal. What might have seemed at first sight like a random encounter between representatives of two different racial groups emerges as a story of shared ancestries and cultural references, as well as shifting allegiances and identities.

Status across Borders: Roger Taney, Black British Subjects, and a Diplomatic Antecedent to the Dred Scott Decision

Michael A. Schoeppner offers a fresh interpretation of the origins of then–attorney general Roger B. Taney’s 1832 opinion on the Negro Seamen Acts. Historians and legal scholars, many of them looking backward from the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, have cited that opinion as Taney's first official examination of the racial limits of American citizenship. As a rule, however, they have not examined the history of the opinion itself. Inspired by recent work in transnational history, Schoeppner lays out that history and suggests that Taney’s primary purpose in writing the opinion had very little to do with African Americans. Rather, he argues, Taney was more concerned with limiting the international legal force of British imperial racial policies, and his use of history as a way of limiting the meaning of citizenship and subjecthood was a tactical response to British racial progressivism.

“Punishment of Mere Political Advocacy”: The FBI, Teamsters Local 544, and the Origins of the 1941 Smith Act Case

Donna T. Haverty-Stacke explores how the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s fear of fifth column infiltration and sabotage of the nation’s wartime preparedness program, along with the efforts of a grassroots working-class anticommunist movement in Minneapolis, led to the 1941 prosecution of twenty-nine Trotskyist antiwar activists and union leaders for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Her article probes the World War II–era compromise certain Americans were willing to make between First Amendment rights and national security, and considers the consequences for organized labor, political dissent, and free speech. In so doing, this study provides a historical perspective on similar bargains struck today as America finds itself in a state of perpetual war on terror.
This issue also includes a "State of the Field" forum on American Environmental History:
Since the Journal of American History last published a round table on the subject in 1990, American environmental history has seen explosive growth. Paul S. Sutter takes us on a selective tour of this expansive field, paying particular attention to questions of environmental causation and the ways environmental historians have replaced the once-firm categories of nature and culture with various approaches to environmental hybridity. That hybrid turn, Sutter suggests, has been analytically essential, yet it has also left the field at a moral crossroads. Following Sutter’s essay David Igler, Christof Mauch, Gregg Mitman, Linda Nash, Helen M. Rozwadowski, and Bron Taylor offer critical responses.
For more of the TOC, including exhibition and book reviews, follow the link.