Journal of American History


Thomas Jefferson’s Gender Frontier

Thomas Jefferson has long been characterized as a Francophile. But, as Brian Steele shows, Jefferson’s experience in France led him to articulate a full-blown American exceptionalism that was rooted in a domestic order unencumbered by the multiple artificialities that kept European men and women from practicing what Jefferson viewed as their natural gender roles. Jefferson’s liberal critique of foreign cultures and political systems that oppressed women and effeminized men translated into an affirmation of America’s natural gender practices. His embrace of republican womanhood is unsurprising. What is notable, though, is the centrality of gender and domesticity to Jefferson’s conception of America’s uniqueness and superiority. (pp. 17–42) Read online >

Deist Monster On Religious Common Sense in the Wake of the American Revolution

The cover of Stephen Mix Mitchell’s A Narrative of the Life of William Beadle, published in 1783 in Hartford, Connecticut, bore this woodcut of coffins marked with hearts, which represented Lydia Beadle and her children; below, William Beadle lay beside the knife, hatchet, and pistols he had used to slay his family and himself. Mitchell, who served as a judge, a representative to the Connecticut General Assembly, and a delegate to the Continental Congress, penned the fullest account of William Beadle’s life and death, in which he emphasized Beadle’s business troubles.
Courtesy American Antiquarian Society.

Christopher Grasso examines the broad cultural context of the tragedy of William Beadle, a Connecticut merchant who, in the early 1780s, murdered his wife and four young children and then killed himself—a crime newspapers, pamphlets, and broadsides attributed to his deistic beliefs. Deism has usually been considered important in American history only to a few Founding Fathers who kept their beliefs to themselves. But the encounters with deism Grasso discusses uncover contests over the place of religion in the emerging conceptions of American citizenship. These encounters reveal a people struggling to understand their religious and political lives in the new and unsettled society created by revolution and war and sketch an episode in the formation of American religious common sense. (pp. 43–68) Read online >

Warming the Poor and Growing Consumers: Fuel Philanthropy in the Early Republic’s Urban North

In David Claypoole Johnston’s satiric 1832 depiction of the challenges of burning coal, servants struggle to ignite the anthracite filling a fireplace grate as observers express skepticism. Affluent households could afford to experiment with switching from wood to coal, but scarce funds and the technical problems shown here made the transition difficult for poorer families. The cartoon’s title, “Anti Phlogistic,” referred to “phlogiston,” early chemists’ name for a mysterious substance they believed to be the source of heat.
Courtesy Library Company of Philadelphia.

How did urban Americans deal with the nation’s first major energy crisis? Replacing dwindling stocks of firewood with coal seemed to be an easy solution, but endemic poverty and popular perceptions about coal made the transition difficult for most residents of northern cities in antebellum America. Sean Patrick Adams demonstrates that the campaign to promote coal during that crisis targeted both affluent and poor consumers. Adams finds that exploring the transition between firewood and coal raises some thorny questions about our own energy concerns. If we are to experience a “green” revolution in energy use in our world, we would do well to understand how both the early nineteenth-century poor and their wealthy contemporaries came to enlist in coal’s “black” revolution. (pp. 69–94) Read online >

Reconfiguring the Old South: ‘Solving’ the Problem of Slavery, 1787–1838

This engraving of a slave auction in Charleston, South Carolina, shows a scene familiar to Charlestonians throughout the antebellum era. Such sights may have reminded them—both during the 1804–1807 era, when the state reopened the international slave trade, and in later years, when a domestic, interregional trade flourished—of the links between southern prosperity and the threat of slave uprisings. Illustrated London News, Nov. 29, 1856.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

Examining the choices that confronted the American South in the era of the cotton revolution, Lacy Ford outlines the tensions that appeared as both the upper and the lower South attempted reconfigurations of slavery after the foreign slave trade ended in 1808. Upper South politicians sought a demographic reconfiguration, or a “whitening” of the region, to reduce the number of slaves living there through both colonization and the sale of slaves to the lower South. Lower South leaders, meanwhile, sought an ideological reconfiguration to make slaveholding consistent with existing republican and emerging humanitarian ideals by transforming slavery into a “domestic” institution legitimated by paternalism. As Ford shows, the divergent efforts at reconfiguration pitted spokesmen of the upper and lower South against each other even as the antagonists displayed a shared and fundamental unwillingness to undermine slaveholding and slaveholders. (pp. 95–122) Read online >

For suggestions on how to use this article in the U.S. history classroom, see our Teaching the JAH Web project at

“A Wagner Act for Public Employees”: Labor’s Deferred Dream and the Rise of Conservatism, 1970–1976

Jerry Wurf, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees from 1964 to 1981, speaks with characteristic passion at a 1972 union conference. In the early 1970s, Wurf spearheaded the drive for federal legislation to guarantee government workers a minimum wage, overtime pay, and collective bargaining rights.
Courtesy Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University.

As the 1970s began, public workers in the United States were participating in the most profound union upsurge since the 1930s. Sanitation workers, teachers, fire fighters, and others were flocking into unions, creating the promise of a liberal political resurgence during the presidency of Richard M. Nixon. Halting the growth of public sector unions became a crucial task for the emerging conservative movement of the mid-1970s, argues Joseph A. McCartin. Labor’s unsuccessful effort to pass a national collective bargaining law for state and local employees illustrated both the growing divisions within the Democratic coalition and the growing strength of the conservative activism that later helped usher in the era of Ronald Reagan. (pp. 123–148) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

Like many of the plastic-inseminated bodies displayed in the “Body Worlds 3” exhibition at the St. Louis Science Center, The Hurdler (2005) represents the body in functional action. This sculpture and others create compelling—and sometimes unsettling—juxtapositions of internal anatomical features, such as the muscles and the sagittal sections of the brain shown here, and external features, including eyes, eyebrows, and lips.
Courtesy St. Louis Science Center.
  • Museo Alameda, by Kathleen Franz (pp. 149–54) Read online >
  • “The Art of the American Shapshot, 1888–1978,” by Shirley Teresa Wajda (pp. 155–57) Read online >
  • “Diba Jimooyung: Telling Our Story,” by Amy Lonetree (pp. 158–62) Read online >
  • “RACE: Are We So Different?,” by Jay Price (pp. 163–64) Read online >
  • “BodyWorlds3,” by Walton O. Schalick III (pp. 165–70) Read online >
  • “David Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture,” by Sarah Seidman (pp. 171–74) Read online >

Book Reviews

June 2008, Vol. 95 No. 1

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.

  • Alder, The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession, by Susanna Blumenthal
  • Altink, Representations of Slave Women in Discourses on Slavery and Abolition, 1780–1838, by Sarah N. Roth
  • Alwood, Dark Days in the Newsroom: McCarthyism Aimed at the Press, by Thomas Doherty
  • Augst and Carpenter, eds., Institutions of Reading: The Social Life of Libraries in the United States, by Donald G. Davis Jr.
  • Barkan, From All Points: America’s Immigrant West, 1870s–1952, by Allison Varzally
  • Berry, “Swing the Sickle for the Harvest Is Ripe”: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia, by Cara Anzilotti
  • Blair, Harlem Crossroads: Black Writers and the Photograph in the Twentieth Century, by Katharine Capshaw Smith
  • Blum, W. E. B. Du Bois: American Prophet, by J. M. Floyd-Thomas
  • Bonner, William F. Cody’s Wyoming Empire: The Buffalo Bill Nobody Knows, by Lawrence R. Borne
  • Borg, Auto Mechanics: Technology and Expertise in Twentieth-Century America, by Andrew E. Kersten
  • Bouton, Taming Democracy: “The People,” the Founders, and the Troubled Ending of the American Revolution, by David Waldstreicher
  • Bowers, Joseph Priestley and English Unitarianism in America, by Margaret C. Jacob
  • Brady and McCubbins, eds., Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, vol. 2: Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress, by Charles A. Kromkowski
  • Brazinsky, Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy, by Mitchell Lerner
  • Butler, Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, by Cynthia Taylor
  • Cheathem, Old Hickory’s Nephew: The Political and Private Struggles of Andrew Jackson Donelson, by John M. Sacher
  • Chudacoff, Children at Play: An American History, by Joseph M. Hawes
  • Cimbala and Shaw, eds., Making a New South: Race, Leadership, and Community after the Civil War, by Andrew S. Moore
  • Clark, Masterless Mistresses: The New Orleans Ursulines and the Development of a New World Society, 1727–1834, by William Henry Foster
  • Clifford and Clifford, “The Troubled Roar of the Waters”: Vermont in Flood and Recovery, 1927–1931, by Uwe Luebken
  • Cole, Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia, by Richard A. Greenwald
  • Cook, Doña Tules: Sante Fe’s Courtesan and Gambler, by Alison M. Parker
  • Cordery, Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker, by Louise (Lucy) Wilby Knight
  • Critchlow, The Conservative Ascendancy: How the gop Right Made Political History, by Godfrey Hodgson
  • Dagbovie, The Early Black History Movement, Carter G. Woodson, and Lorenzo Johnston Greene, by Stephanie Y. Evans
  • Davidson, “They Say”: Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race, by Dayo F. Gore
  • Donaldson, The First Modern Campaign: Kennedy, Nixon, and the Election of 1960, by Thomas J. Carty
  • Ekberg, Stealing Indian Women: Native Slavery in the Illinois Country, by James Taylor Carson
  • Eyal, The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828–1861, by Anthony Gronowicz
  • Fleming, The Perils of Peace: America’s Struggle for Survival after Yorktown, by Lawrence S. Kaplan
  • Foglesong, The American Mission and the “Evil Empire”: The Crusade for a “Free Russia” since 1881, by Edward M. Bennett
  • Foster, ed., Long before Stonewall: Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America, by John Ruston Pagan
  • Fowler, Japanese and Chinese Immigrant Activists: Organizing in American and International Communist Movements, 1919–1933, by Allan W. Austin
  • Frank, Creeks and Southerners: Biculturalism on the Early American Frontier, by William L. Ramsey
  • Frederick, Stand Up for Alabama: Governor George Wallace, by Randy Sanders
  • Freund, Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America, by Andrew Wiese
  • Gallicchio, ed., The Unpredictability of the Past: Memories of the Asia-Pacific War in U.S.–East Asian Relations, by Andrew J. Huebner
  • Geiger, Facing the Pacific: Polynesia and the U.S. Imperial Imagination, by Anne L. Foster
  • Goeser, Picturing the New Negro: Harlem Renaissance Print Culture and Modern Black Identity, by John Louis Lucaites
  • Griffin, American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier, by Matthew C. Ward
  • Guyatt, Providence and the Invention of the United States, 1607–1876, by Mark D. McGarvie
  • Hepburn, Crossing the Border: A Free Black Community in Canada, by Judith Wellman
  • Hoffer, To Enlarge the Machinery of Government: Congressional Debates and the Growth of the American State, 1858–1891, by Charles W. Calhoun
  • Hohenstein, Coining Corruption: The Making of the American Campaign Finance System, by Michael J. Malbin
  • Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, by Jeffry H. Morrison
  • Hulliung, The Social Contract in America: From the Revolution to the Present Age, by Philip Abbott
  • Huston, Stephen A. Douglas and the Dilemmas of Democratic Equality, by David H. Zarefsky
  • James, A Freedom Bought with Blood: African American War Literature from the Civil War to World War II, by Susanna Ashton
  • Jeffreys-Jones, The fbi: A History, by John Noakes
  • Joiner, Sin in the City: Chicago and Revivalism, 1880–1920, by Margaret Bendroth
  • Jones, All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830–1900, by Christie Anne Farnham [Pope]
  • Kalinak, How the West Was Sung: Music in the Westerns of John Ford, by Gerald R. Butters Jr.
  • Kaplan, nato 1948: The Birth of the Transatlantic Alliance, by Meena Bose
  • Kells, Héctor P. García: Everyday Rhetoric and Mexican American Civil Rights, by Mario T. García
  • Ketchell, Holy Hills of the Ozarks: Religion and Tourism in Branson, Missouri, by Tona J. Hangen
  • Kidwell, The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855–1970, by Jack M. Schultz
  • Kiewe, fdr’s First Fireside Chat: Public Confidence and the Banking Crisis, by Russell D. Buhite
  • Klein, Margaret Junkin Preston, Poet of the Confederacy: A Literary Life, by Jonathan Daniel Wells
  • Kluger, Seizing Destiny: How America Grew from Sea to Shining Sea, by J. Dane Hartgrove
  • Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign, by Todd Estes
  • Lazerow and Williams, eds., In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement, by Gregg L. Michel
  • Lees, Yugoslav-Americans and National Security during World War II, by June Granatir Alexander
  • Leffler, For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, by Joseph M. Siracusa
  • Levander and Levine, eds., Hemispheric American Studies, by Eric Hershberg
  • Lipsitz, Footsteps in the Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music, by Michael T. Bertrand
  • Lorence, A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West, by Brian Birdnow
  • Lorenz-Meyer, Safehaven: The Allied Pursuit of Nazi Assets Abroad, by Norman J. W. Goda
  • Loughran, The Republic in Print: Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770–1870, by Carl Ostrowski
  • Lundin, From Nature to Experience: The American Search for Cultural Authority, by Maurice Lee
  • Maher, Nature’s New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement, by Chad Montrie
  • Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism, by Lloyd E. Ambrosius
  • Mann, Our Daily Bread: Wages, Workers, and the Political Economy of the American West, by Daniel Cornford
  • Matsuda, Soft Power and Its Perils: U.S. Cultural Policy in Early Postwar Japan and Permanent Dependency, by Steven I. Levine
  • McArthur, The Man Who Was Rip Van Winkle: Joseph Jefferson and Nineteenth-Century American Theatre, by Rosemarie K. Bank
  • McCloud, Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies, by Paul Harvey
  • Mead, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, by Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey
  • Mercantini, Who Shall Rule at Home? The Evolution of South Carolina Political Culture, 1748–1776, by Peter N. Moore
  • Meyer, Networked Machinists: High-Technology Industries in Antebellum America, by David A. Hounshell
  • Mihm, A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States, by Howard Bodenhorn
  • Minchin, From Rights to Economics: The Ongoing Struggle for Black Equality in the U.S. South, by Karen Miller
  • Miroff, The Liberals’ Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party, by Jonathan Schoenwald
  • Mitchell, Architect of Justice: Felix S. Cohen and the Founding of American Legal Pluralism, by Edward A. Purcell Jr.
  • Muller, American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II, by Brian Masaru Hayashi
  • Mumford, Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America, by Gregory Mixon
  • Murray, Origins of American Health Insurance: A History of Industrial Sickness Funds, by Edmund F. Wehrle
  • Nemanic, One Day for Democracy: Independence Day and the Americanization of Iron Range Immigrants, by Adam Walaszek
  • Nichols, A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution, by Jack M. Bloom
  • Niedermeier, Eliza Calvert Hall: Kentucky Author and Suffragist, by Susan Albertine
  • Olmanson, The Future City on the Inland Sea: A History of Imaginative Geographies of Lake Superior, by C. Elizabeth Raymond
  • Owens, Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy, by Clyde R. Ferguson
  • Palmer, James P. Cannon and the Origins of the American Revolutionary Left, 1890–1928, by Jeffrey W. Coker
  • Parezo and Fowler, Anthropology Goes to the Fair: The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, by John E. Findling
  • Pettegrew, Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920, by Martin A. Berger
  • Phillips, This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal, by Lynne Heasley
  • Poyo, Cuban Catholics in the United States, 1960–1980: Exile and Integration, by Michelle A. Gonzalez [Maldonado]
  • Pursell, Technology in Postwar America: A History, by Margaret Pugh O’Mara
  • Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography, by Kate A. Baldwin
  • Remini, The House: The History of the House of Representatives, by James T. Currie
  • Rhodes, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, by David F. Krugler
  • Riordan, Many Identities, One Nation: The Revolution and Its Legacy in the Mid-Atlantic, by Matthew Rainbow Hale
  • Rodgers, Mencken: The American Iconoclast, by George H. Douglas
  • Rozario, The Culture of Calamity: Disaster and the Making of Modern America, by Ted Steinberg
  • Saito, From Chinese Exclusion to Guantánamo Bay: Plenary Power and the Prerogative State, by Annette Gordon-Reed
  • Salstrom, From Pioneering to Persevering: Family Farming in Indiana to 1880, by James R. Shortridge
  • Sartain, Invisible Activists: Women of the Louisiana naacp and the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1915–1945, by Christina R. Greene
  • Self, Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller: Reframing the American West, by Gerald R. Butters Jr.
  • Setran, The College “Y”: Student Religion in the Era of Secularization, by W. Bruce Leslie
  • Sheumaker, Love Entwined: The Curious History of Hairwork in America, by C. Dallett Hemphill
  • Sidbury, Becoming African in America: Race and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic, by David N. Gellman
  • Sinha and Von Eschen, eds., Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race, and Power in American History, by Alexander Tsesis
  • Skok, More than Neighbors: Catholic Settlements and Day Nurseries in Chicago, 1893–1930, by James J. Divita
  • Smith, Making Music in Los Angeles: Transforming the Popular, by Raymond Knapp
  • Smith, fdr, by Glen Jeansonne
  • Smulyan, Popular Ideologies: Mass Culture at Mid-century, by Ian Gordon
  • Snay, Fenians, Freedmen, and Southern Whites: Race and Nationality in the Era of Reconstruction, by Thomas Adams Upchurch
  • Spector, In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia, by Rudolf V.A. Janssens
  • Taffet, Foreign Aid as Foreign Policy: The Alliance for Progress in Latin America, by Michael W. Weis
  • Talbott, The Great Experiment: The Story of Ancient Empires, Modern States, and the Quest for a Global Nation, by Peter N. Stearns
  • Thompson, Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas, by Carolina Castillo Crimm
  • Tierney, fdr and the Spanish Civil War: Neutrality and Commitment in the Struggle That Divided America, by Howard Jablon
  • Towers, The Urban South and the Coming of the Civil War, by Thomas N. Ingersoll
  • Vileisis, Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get It Back, by Jessamyn Neuhaus
  • Westhoff, A Fatal Drifting Apart: Democratic Social Knowledge and Chicago Reform, by Thomas J. Jablonsky
  • Wüstenbecker, Deutsch-Amerikaner im Ersten Weltkrieg: US-Politik und nationale Identitäten im Mittleren Westen (German Americans in World War I: U.S. politics and national identities in the Midwest), by Dorothee Schneider
  • Ziegler, Favored Flowers: Culture and Economy in a Global System, by Kristin Hoganson
  • Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev, by David C. Engerman

Movie Reviews

Thirty-year-old Marine Corps S.Sgt. John Jones, of San Antonio, Texas, lost both legs below the knee and suffered other injuries in Al Qaim, Iraq, on January 3, 2005. Jones is one of ten Iraq War veterans who recalls his “alive day” (the day he was wounded) in Alive Day Memories.
Courtesy hbo

Web site Reviews

Web site Reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, and George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741–1799, by Susan Holbrook Perdue (p. 296) Read online >
  • American Broadsides and Ephemera, Series I: 1760–1900, by Ellen Pearson (p. 297) Read online >
  • U.S. Historical Census Browser, by Clara Rodriguez (p. 298) Read online >
  • Inside an American Factory: Films of the Westinghouse Works, 1904, by Julie Kimmel (p. 299) Read online >
  • Perlinger Archives, by Ilana Nash (p. 300) Read online >


Recent Scholarship

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cover image

On the cover:

This cartoon by Jerry L. Barnett lampooned agency shop agreements made between public sector unions and the government. Such agreements required workers covered by union contracts to pay for the costs of union representation, whether they were union members or not. The cartoon showed the agency shop prospering at the expense of public sector employees and taxpayers. A 1974 issue of the National Right to Work Newsletter reprinted the cartoon as part of its campaign against public employee unions’ growing power. National Right to Work Newsletter, March 26, 1974, p. 7. Courtesy Jerry L. Barnett. See Joseph A. McCartin, “‘A Wagner Act for Public Employees’: Labor’s Deferred Dream and the Rise of Conservatism, 1970–1976,” 123–48.

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