Journal of American History


The Hazards of the Flush Times: Gambling, Mob Violence, and the Anxieties of America’s Market Revolution

This illustration, published in the Anti-Slavery Almanac for 1840, displays many Americans’ interpretation of the 1835 hangings in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The event especially resonated with abolitionists, who folded it into their critique of the violence they found endemic in southern slave society. Condemnation of the Vicksburg mob, however, was widespread, even though there was also widespread agreement that an upstanding populace should not tolerate professional gamblers.
Courtesy Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division

While the story of antebellum America’s capitalist development has most commonly centered on the urban and industrial transformation of the North, Joshua D. Rothman argues that the booming southwestern cotton economy exposed the anxieties and tensions of the era in their most acute forms. Examining the 1835 hanging of five supposed professional gamblers in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Rothman suggests that qualms about the morality of participating in a speculative market economy might have been eased through violence as much as through religious revivals and reform activities. In so doing, he calls for a rethinking of our understandings of regionalism, class development, and the market revolution in pre–Civil War America. (pp. 651–77) Read online >

Origins of the Conservative Ascendancy: Barry Goldwater’s Early Senate Career and the De-legitimization of Organized Labor

During his 1958 Senate campaign, Barry Goldwater again faced an impressive majority of registered Democrats. Reaching across party lines to recruit Jeffersonian Democrats uncomfortable with modern liberalism became a crucial electoral strategy for Goldwater. Many of these Democrats, such as the members of Democrats for Goldwater, from Douglas, Arizona, campaigned for the senator because they believed he better embodied their political philosophy than the self-proclaimed “Mr. Democrat,” Ernest McFarland.
Courtesy Barry M. Goldwater Papers, Arizona Historical Foundation, Tempe, Arizona

Many historical narratives of the erosion of the New Deal liberal-regulatory order and the rise of the Right focus on post-1964 racial and cultural tensions. In contrast, Elizabeth Tandy Shermer traces Barry Goldwater’s early political career in the 1950s, in Arizona and in the U.S. Senate, to understand how he helped reclaim for American conservatism a language of freedom, individualism, and security that Progressives, New Dealers, and trade unionists had monopolized for almost two generations. He introduced into mainstream politics the idea that many routine, heretofore legal trade union activities were corrupt, dangerous, and un-American. As a result of his prominent role in the 1957–1958 McClellan “Rackets” committee hearings, Goldwater not only won a national following but also helped conservatives establish important footholds in the camp of postwar liberalism. (pp. 678–709) Read online >

Editor’s Note

Two articles highlight transnational dimensions of American politics at the dawn of the 1960s. One traces the sociologist C. Wright Mills’s involvement with the nascent international New Left; the other explores the way black Americans’ aid to Africa became entangled in the 1960 presidential election. Together they raise questions about the Third World as a formative presence in the political culture of the American 1960s.

“Becoming International Again”: C. Wright Mills and the Emergence of a Global New Left, 1956–1962

C. Wright Mills and Saul Landau photographed at Mills’s house in West Nyack, New York, probably in the spring of 1961. Mills met Landau, a young editor of Studies on the Left, in Cuba during the summer of 1960. Landau accompanied Mills to Europe in 1961 as his research assistant.
Photo by Lillian Tonnaire Taylor. Courtesy Kate Mills

In recent years historians have expanded their conception of the American New Left well beyond the white student movement and its most prominent organization, Students for a Democratic Society (sds). Daniel Geary makes the case that the American New Left should also be understood in international terms. Geary explores the work of C. Wright Mills, the influential American intellectual who is best known for his influence on sds. By demonstrating that Mills conceived of the New Left in international terms and by exploring his engagements with the British New Left, the international peace movement, and the Cuban Revolution, Geary situates the U.S. New Left within a broad, worldwide movement. (pp. 710–36) Read online > or Test the gate

“Worth a Lot of Negro Votes”: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign

Senator John F. Kennedy and the Kenyan nationalist leader Tom Mboya speak to reporters after their meeting on July 26, 1960, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Mboya had asked Kennedy to intercede with the State Department for funds to transport African students to the United States. Instead, Kennedy Photograph by Boston Herald American
Photograph by Boston Herald American in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

When John F. Kennedy telephoned Coretta Scott King to express sympathy for her jailed husband, he had little idea that his two-minute call would move to center stage in the 1960 presidential election. That call, James H. Meriwether argues, has obscured Kennedy’s broader efforts to secure the support of black voters while not alienating white voters in the no longer “solid South.” Kennedy drew on the growing transnational relationship black Americans had with an ancestral continent undergoing its own freedom struggles, revealing that he was more interested in Africa than in civil rights. Africa, the newest frontier for Kennedy, became a place where he could show his Cold War credentials, find common ground with black American voters, and strengthen his chances to win the presidency. (pp. 737–63) Read online > or Test the gate

For suggestions on how to use this article in the U.S. history classroom, see “Teaching the JAH.”

Nothing Says “Democracy” Like a Visit from the Queen: Reflections on Empire and Nation in Early American Histories

Prompted by the 2007 commemorations of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, Christopher Grasso and Karin Wulf reflect on two recent trends in early American history. The first, cultural history, has promoted new attention to meaning and representation. The second has widened the field’s geographic scope. With “early America” understood as including the entire continent—or as situated within the Atlantic world or even the broader early modern world—the “thirteen original colonies” now form only a small part of the field. Welcoming the density of scholarship on early modern North America, Grasso and Wulf argue for work on the interrelatedness of many peoples and the overlap of competing polities and agendas. The convergence of the cultural turn and an expanded geographical perspective requires new consideration of such venerable subjects as empire and nation. (pp. 764–81) Read online > or Test the gate

Exhibition Reviews

	“Raiders” take aim during the winter 2008 reenactment of the North Meadows skirmish. In the original skirmish of February 29, 1704, English militiamen pursued the Native American and French allies who had just raided Deerfield, Massachusetts, as they retreated with English captives in tow. But the militiamen soon dropped back after assaults by the retreating raiders killed nine colonists.
Photo by Penny Leveritt. Courtesy Historic Deerfield
  • Introduction, by Benjamin Filene and Brian Horrigan (pp. 782) Read online >
  • “‘Action, and Action Now’: fdr’s First 100 Days,” by Gerald Zahavi (pp. 783–85) Read online >
  • The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, by Benjamin Hufbauer (pp. 786–91) Read online >
  • The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, by Jeffrey A. Engel (pp. 792–93) Read online >
  • The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, by Michael Pierce (pp. 794–98) Read online >
  • “1704 Colonial Encampment Weekend,” by Katherine A. Grandjean (pp. 799–802) Read online >
  • “French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America,” by Philip Ranlet (pp. 802–3) Read online >
  • “Chicago: Crossroads of America,” by Susan Eleanor Hirsch (pp. 804–7) Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2008, Vol. 95 No. 3

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


Movie Reviews

Cynthia Espinoza, Ranie Ruthig, Shannon Morgan, and Michelle Perry in Ramadi, Iraq, in July 2004. Lioness tells the story of a group of female army support soldiers who became the first women in American history to be sent into direct ground combat. Told through intimate accounts, journal excerpts, archival footage, as well as interviews with military commanders, the film follows five women who served together for a year in Iraq.
Photo by Lloyd Francis Jr. Courtesy Room 11 Productions
  • John Adams, by James T. Kloppenberg (pp. 937–39) Read online >
  • Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900–1934, by Charles J. Maland (pp. 940–1) Read online >
  • Buffalo Bill, by Joy S. Kasson (pp. 942–3) Read online >
  • Documenting the Face of America: Roy Stryker and the fsa/owi Photographers, by John Raeburn (pp. 944–5) Read online >
  • Sputnik Mania, by Lary L. May (pp. 946) Read online >
  • Chicago 10, by Walter L. Hixson (pp. 947–8) Read online >
  • Lioness, by Eve Allegra Raimon (pp. 949–50) Read online >

Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

Editor’s Annual Report, 2007–2008

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

View “Recent Scholarship” listing online >

Recent Scholarship is available as a searchable database, Recent Scholarship Online >

cover image

On the cover:

While visiting Africa in March 1957, Vice President Richard M. Nixon is made an honorary paramount chieftain of all Liberia. The traditional cap and “country cloth” robe presented to Nixon by the paramount chieftain are symbols of that important office. Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 306-RNT-64-A-232-60-18235. See James H. Meriwether “‘Worth a Lot of Negro Votes’: Black Voters, Africa, and the 1960 Presidential Campaign,” p. 737

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