Inside are articles by Patricia Bonomi, Jon Butler, Chris Rasmussen, H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr., and Nina Silber. Check out our podcast interview with Nina Silber about her article. We’ve included previews for the articles below the fold.
The exhibition reviews section includes reviews of the Daughters of the American Republic’s “Remembering the American Revolution, 1776–1890,” Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, the Schomburg Center’s “Black Suburbia: From Levittown to Ferguson,” “Patient No More,” and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s “Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and American Indian Nations.”
Our book reviews section features 150 reviews of the recent works in American history. The March issue includes feature reviews of Martha Hodes’ Mourning Lincoln, reviewed by Anne Sarah Rubin, Mary Louise Roberts’ What Soldiers Do, reviewed by Aaron B. O’Connell, John H. M. Laslett’s Sunshine Was Never Enough, reviewed by Chris Rhomberg, and Kate Brown’s Dispatches from Dystopia, reviewed by Jessica Sewell.
Finally, the March issue features digital history reviews of A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787–1825 reviewed by Joseph Adelman, Andrew J. Torget’s Texas Slavery Project reviewed by Walter L. Buenger, The Roosevelt Library and the National Archives’s Franklin reviewed by Barry Trachtenberg, and The Programming Historian reviewed by Lincoln Mullen.
Share your thoughts on the December issue in the comments section below, or by tweeting at us @JournAmHist.
The city, modernity, and religion? Tough history, especially for Gilded Age New York City. Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant religious leaders often feared the city. Max Weber saw failure in its religious institutions, and William James denigrated them as living “second-hand upon tradition” in any case. In his presidential address to the 2016 Organization of American Historians annual meeting, Jon Butler challenges these views. He argues that New York’s major religious traditions embraced modernity and institutions as they entered the twentieth century, creating community, stirring individuals, and adapting religion to civilization’s new circumstances as much in Gotham as they had done in the Jewish diaspora and the Roman Empire, sometimes failing, yet sometimes succeeding, leaving deep marks on society and individuals alike.
Patricia U. Bonomi argues that Christianity left a significant impress on slaves’ religious lives and legal status in early Dutch and English North America. This challenges the attenuating yet still-resonant historiography that begins the story of black Christianity only with the evangelical clergy’s outreach to blacks in the mid-eighteenth-century Great Awakening. That view both ignores the agency of African Americans in their own religious history and disparages work among blacks by dedicated Dutch Reformed and pre–Great Awakening Anglican missionaries. Bonomi reinterprets slave Christianity in New Netherland and compares it with harsher practices in the English colonies of Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina, and New York, while illuminating blacks’ manipulation of the laws and slave owners’ ambivalence about holding Christians in bondage.
How does a nation heal after a bloody and divisive civil war? This fundamental question is of paramount concern and the source of considerable debate for historians grappling with the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War. Where some find evidence of a “road to reunion” built on a foundation of white supremacy, others see prolonged, even ongoing, sectional division. Nina Silber considers this question by examining the extensive scholarship devoted to “reunion and reconciliation” in the post–Civil War United States. She not only explores the literature dealing with reconciliation, including the scholarship on the Civil War in memory, she also suggests new ways to pursue the Civil War’s continued impact on U.S. culture.
Chris Rasmussen chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the Veterans of Future Wars (vfw) in 1936 as a testament to the power and pitfalls of satire as a form of political protest. In January 1936 Congress voted to pay a “bonus” owed to World War I veterans one decade ahead of schedule. Students at Princeton University responded by founding the vfw, a satirical protest against the bonus and militarism. In only a few months, the organization enrolled fifty thousand members on American college campuses, gained nationwide publicity, and disbanded. The founders of the vfw mocked veterans’ opportunism, but most of its members considered the group a protest against war, and disagreement over the vfw’s political stance undid the wildly popular satire.
In April 1964 Malcolm X boldly challenged black activists to “expand the civil rights struggle to the level of human rights” and “take the case of the black man in this country before the nations in the U.N.” But nearly two years earlier, William Worthy, black America’s star foreign correspondent, had taken his case before both U.S. courts and the United Nations. In 1961 Worthy defied the U.S. travel ban to Cuba to report on racial progress on the island. The State Department had the names of more than two hundred citizens who had violated the travel ban, but federal officials singled out the radical journalist for prosecution, making him first American convicted of returning to the U.S. without a valid passport. H. Timothy Lovelace Jr. explores how Worthy invoked the U.S. Constitution and international human rights law to fight his selective prosecution and uses Worthy v. United States to offer fresh understandings of black internationalism in the 1960s.