The September issue of The Journal of American History is now available online for subscribers.
Included are articles by authors Andrew David Edwards, Sveinn Jóhannesson, Christina Snyder, and Alexandra Finley. We are also excited to share our interchange on HIV/AIDS and U.S. History with Jonathan Bell, Darius Bost, Jennifer Brier, Julio Capó Jr., Jih-Fei Cheng, Daniel M. Fox, Christina Hanhardt, Emily K. Hobson, and Dan Royles.
This issue also includes a host of book reviews and digital history reviews. The digital history projects reviewed include Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition, the West Point History of Warfare, The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 Curriculum, and the Engineering and Technology History Wiki.
Preview of Articles
The problem of money in the Stamp Act crisis comes down to basic definitions. What was money? After the Seven Years’ War, Parliament sought to alter the monetary basis of British North America, in part, by levying taxes and fees in silver colonists insisted they did not have. The Stamp Act of 1765 made silver absolutely necessary. Without silver, the simplest legal instruments of law and commerce became unattainable. The result was absurd: the Stamp Act was a law that made the operation of law impossible. This paradox, explored by Andrew David Edwards, provides a new explanation for widespread American resistance to the Stamp Act and the origin of debates that led to revolution.
Placing the creation of emergency powers at the heart of the framing and adoption of the federal Constitution, Sveinn Jóhannesson offers a new perspective on the rise of the American liberal state. His essay explores how James Madison and his Federalist collaborators dealt with the problem of creating and justifying special emergency powers in a polity that saw itself as republican. What would be the justification for allowing a government “of the people” to suppress an uprising by the people against their own government? Jóhannesson contends that to solve this problem, Madison engineered an ideological transformation into the nature of American government, inventing what we now call constitutional liberalism.
Before the Indian Removal Act, many eastern Native Americans adopted aspects of U.S. “civilization policy” in an attempt to remain in their homelands. But what happened to those peoples and those ideas in the wake of removal? Christina Snyder explores this question by focusing on native students at Choctaw Academy, the first federal Indian school. Snyder demonstrates that these native men, first as teenage students in the 1830s and later as tribal leaders, participated in a transatlantic intellectual culture facilitated by expanding access to print media. Drawing on native and classical intellectual traditions, they latched onto history, in particular, as way to critique imperialism and reimagine the future of indigenous nations.
This article uses a case study of the life of an enslaved woman, Corinna Hinton Omohundro, to tell an experiential history of slavery and capitalism. Hinton Omohundro was the enslaved concubine of a successful slave trader from Richmond, Virginia. Her life and labor offer a new perspective for understanding the domestic slave trade and the lived experiences of slavery for enslaved women. In particular, this microhistory by Alexandra Finley allows us to see the significant but understudied role that women’s domestic, reproductive, and sexual labor played in the expansion of slavery into the “Cotton Kingdom” of the Deep South.