Journal of American History


George Thompson among the Africans: Empathy, Authority, and Insanity in the Age of Abolition

The abolitionist missionary George Thompson, probably taken soon after his release from prison in Missouri in 1846. Courtesy Oberlin College Archives, Oberlin, Ohio.
The abolitionist missionary George Thompson, probably taken soon after his release from prison in Missouri in 1846. Courtesy Oberlin College Archives, Oberlin, Ohio.

Radical in their politics, both praised and denounced for their embrace of an imagined “blackness,” and diagnosed as mentally unstable, militant abolitionists occupy a unique place in antebellum American history and in the historiography of antislavery activism. Joseph Yannielli, in the essay that won the 2009 Louis Pelzer Award, examines the worlds and influence of these activists through the life of George Thompson, a white abolitionist missionary and ex-convict who moved to West Africa in the wake of the 1839 Amistad slave revolt. Although largely forgotten today, Thompson’s crusade against oppression in the western United States and in Africa highlights the enduring achievements and dramatic pitfalls of antislavery activism and places the struggle over racial slavery in an international context too often ignored in more specialized studies of the Civil War period. (pp. 979–1000) Read online >

“Intended for the Better Government of Man”: The Political History of African American Freemasonry in the Era of Emancipation

Nineteenth-century black activists who achieved fame as abolitionists, public speakers, itinerants, Civil War recruiters, and Republicans very often shared another identity as well: Freemason. Stephen Kantrowitz argues that this ritual order, whose segregated lodges flourished from the 1840s onward, played an important but poorly understood role in the development of African American political life in the era of slave emancipation. Kantrowitz demonstrates that during the antebellum era Freemasonry allowed people excluded from most forms of partisan political life to vote, hold office, and establish bonds of affiliation across great distances. Both before and after the Civil War, white Freemasonry’s nominal commitment to universalism and cosmopolitanism offered black activists a forum in which to argue that racial exclusion violated basic Masonic principles and goals. (pp. 1001–26) Read online >

The Incorporation of American Feminism: Suffragists and the Postbellum Lyceum

This Matilda Joslyn Gage lecture flyer from 1871 advertises three different lecture topics and provides favorable press blurbs from some of her previous engagements. Matilda Joslyn Gage Scrapbooks, vol. 2. Courtesy Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.
This Matilda Joslyn Gage lecture flyer from 1871 advertises three different lecture topics and provides favorable press blurbs from some of her previous engagements. Matilda Joslyn Gage Scrapbooks, vol. 2. Courtesy Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.

Lisa Tetrault examines woman suffragists who earned money on the lecture circuit in the two decades after the American Civil War. Conventionally viewed in the historiography as middle-class, presumed to have led lives of relative economic stability, and thought to be motivated primarily by conviction, suffragists did not, in fact, fit this image. Living lives of economic instability, these suffragists blended reform motives with entrepreneurial ingenuity to create economic opportunity out of a newly commercialized postwar lyceum. The thoroughgoing commercialization of the postwar lyceum and the large influx of women suffragists into it—explicitly in search of economic gain—in turn, reshaped feminism. Tetrault argues for a new view of post–Civil War feminism, illuminates a missing chapter in the history of women and business, and raises questions about how business forces have decisively shaped the content and character of American reform movements. (pp. 1027–56) Read online >

“How Common Culture Shapes the Separate Lives”: Sexuality, Race, and Mid-Twentieth-Century Social Constructionist Thought

In the mid-twentieth century, a network of public intellectuals—known as the “culture-and-personality school”—rejected biological theories of group traits and behavior and popularized a version of social constructionist thought. Historians have studied how this nature-to-nurture shift transformed explanations of racial difference but have not fully accounted for its widespread influence in other domains, including sexuality. Joanne Meyerowitz shows how the culture-and-personality school used a single metanarrative to explain both racial difference and homosexuality. In both areas, they combined and vacillated between cultural relativism, which valued diversity, and psychoanalysis, which pathologized it. Ultimately, these public intellectuals replaced eugenics with a biopolitics of child rearing and came to argue that the way to enhance the quality of a population was not through selective breeding but through selective nurturance of certain cultural traits. (pp. 1057–84) Read online >

Textbooks & Teaching

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Book Reviews

March 2010, Vol. 96 No. 4

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

  • Adam, Buying Respectability: Philanthropy and Urban Society in Transnational Perspective, 1840s to 1930s, by Mark D. McGarvie
  • Adams, Class and Race in the Frontier Army: Military Life in the West, 1870–1890, by Michael J. Brodhead
  • Adams, Conflict and Commerce on the Rio Grande: Laredo, 1755–1955, by Raul Ramos
  • Adams, The Specter of Salem: Remembering the Witch Trials in Nineteenth-Century America, by Richard B. Latner
  • Alba, Raboteau, and DeWind, eds., Immigration and Religion in America: Comparative and Historical Perspectives, by Linda Pritchard
  • Appelbaum, Kingdom to Commune: Protestant Pacifist Culture between World War I and the Vietnam Era, by Perry Bush
  • Arend, Showdown in Desire: The Black Panthers Take a Stand in New Orleans, by Andrew Witt
  • Asch, The Senator and the Sharecropper: The Freedom Struggles of James O. Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer, by Sarah Hart Brown
  • Ballowe, A Man of Salt and Trees: The Life of Joy Morton, by W. Roger Biles
  • Bandele, Black Star: African American Activism in the International Political Economy, by Natalie J. Ring
  • Barksdale, The Lost State of Franklin: America’s First Secession, by Marshall DeRosa
  • Bauer and Mazzotti, eds., Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas: Empires, Texts, Identities, by Carolyn Vellenga Berman
  • Bay, To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells, by Joyce Blackwell
  • Beck, Inkpaduta: Dakota Leader, by Timothy B. Powell
  • Ben-Ur, Sephardic Jews in America: A Diasporic History, by Hasia R. Diner
  • Benton-Cohen, Borderline Americans: Racial Division and Labor War in the Arizona Borderlands, by Rodolfo F. Acuña
  • Berkhofer, Fashioning History: Current Practices and Principles, by Ian Tyrrell
  • Blewett, The Yankee Yorkshireman: Migration Lived and Imagined, by William E. Van Vugt
  • Blum and Young, eds., The Souls of W. E. B. Du Bois: New Essays and Reflections, by Shawn Leigh Alexander
  • Braddock, Thomas Eakins and the Cultures of Modernity, by Douglass Paschall
  • Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California, by Scott Kurashige
  • Brooks, Before Earth Day: The Origins of American Environmental Law, 1945–1970, by Donald J. Pisani
  • Brown, Beyond the Frontier: The Midwestern Voice in American Historical Writing, by Robert L. Reid
  • Brown, Babylon Girls: Black Women Performers and the Shaping of the Modern, by Maureen E. Montgomery
  • Brown, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins: Black Daughter of the Revolution, by Joyce A. Hanson
  • Bsumek, Indian-Made: Navajo Culture in the Marketplace, 1868–1940, by Peter Iverson
  • Buder, Capitalizing on Change: A Social History of American Business, by Rob Schorman
  • Burnley, The Cost of Unity: African-American Agency and Education in the Christian Church, 1865–1914, by Valerie Grim
  • Cannon, Reopening the Frontier: Homesteading in the Modern West, by William H. Katerberg
  • Carlson, The Crimes of Womanhood: Defining Femininity in a Court of Law, by L. Mara Dodge
  • Carnevale, A New Language, a New World: Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890–1945, by Gerald Meyer
  • Chen, The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941–1972, by Paul D. Moreno
  • Childers, Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II, by Michael D. Gambone
  • Cochran, Louise Pound: Scholar, Athlete, Feminist Pioneer, by Shirley Anne Leckie
  • Conger, The Widows’ Might: Widowhood and Gender in Early British America, by Daniel Scott Smith
  • Cummings, New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era, by Leslie Liedel
  • Dennis, The New Economy and the Modern South, by Peter A. Coclanis
  • Egerton, Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America, by Dee E. Andrews
  • Egnal, Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War, by Paul F. Paskoff
  • Eisenberg, The First to Cry Down Injustice? Western Jews and Japanese Removal during WWII, by Michael E. Staub
  • Engel, Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America, by Elisabeth W. Sommer
  • Escott, “What Shall We Do with the Negro?”: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America, by Gaines M. Foster
  • Fox-Genovese and Genovese, Slavery in White and Black: Class and Race in the Southern Slaveholders’ New World Order, by Christopher Phillips
  • Frankel, Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee, by Leslie Fishbein
  • Frydl, The gi Bill, by Scott M. Gelber
  • Gage, The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror, by James Green
  • Gelles, Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage, by Richard Samuelson
  • Godbeer, The Overflowing of Friendship: Love between Men and the Creation of the American Republic, by Lisa Wilson
  • Gordon, Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City, by Margaret Garb
  • Grossberg and Tomlins, eds., The Cambridge History of Law in America, by David J. Bodenhamer
  • Gurock, Orthodox Jews in America, by Hasia R. Diner
  • Halbrook, The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, by Saul Cornell
  • Hartigan-O’Connor, The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America, by Patricia Cleary
  • Haverty-Stacke, America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, by John H. M. Laslett
  • Henold, Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement, by Sandra Yocum
  • Herman, Kinship by Design: A History of Adoption in the Modern Unites States, by Susan L. Porter
  • Hill, Men, Mobs, and Law: Anti-Lynching and Labor Defense in U.S. Radical History, by David M. Anderson
  • Hilton, Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalization, by Daniel Pope
  • Hudson, Entangled by White Supremacy: Reform in World War I–Era South Carolina, by Mark Roman Schultz
  • Huret, La fin de la pauvreté? Les experts sociaux en guerre contre la pauvreté aux états-Unis (1945–1974) (The end of poverty? Social experts in the war against poverty in the United States, 1945–1974), by Michael Reisch
  • Hutchinson, The Indian Craze: Primitivism, Modernism, and Transculturation in American Art, 1890–1915, by Flannery Burke
  • Jackson, Let This Voice Be Heard: Anthony Benezet, Father of Atlantic Abolitionism, by Kirsten Sword
  • Johnson, “They Are All Red Out Here”: Socialist Politics in the Pacific Northwest, 1895–1925, by John Enyeart
  • Jones, The Selma of the North: Civil Rights Insurgency in Milwaukee, by Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua
  • Joseph, Waiting ’til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, by Christopher Barry Strain
  • Katchen, Abel Kiviat, National Champion: Twentieth-Century Track and Field and the Melting Pot, by William M. Simons
  • Kennedy, The Will to Believe: Woodrow Wilson, World War I, and America’s Strategy for Peace and Security, by Charles E. Neu
  • Kimmage, The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism, by Markku Ruotsila
  • Kluchin, Fit to Be Tied: Sterilization and Reproductive Rights in America, 1950–1980, by Simone M. Caron
  • Kosek, Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy, by Anne M. Klejment
  • Laderman, Tours of Vietnam: War, Travel Guides, and Memory, by Michael J. Allen
  • Lauters, More Than a Farmer’s Wife: Voices of American Farm Women, 1910–1960, by Melissa Walker
  • Lemke-Santangelo, Daughters of Aquarius: Women of the Sixties Counterculture, by Mary Ann Wynkoop
  • Lewis, Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830–1885, by Joyce Burnette
  • Lewis, Chicago Made: Factory Networks in the Industrial Metropolis, by Susan Eleanor Hirsch
  • Lipman, Guantánamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution, by Frederick Douglass Opie
  • Lorence, The Unemployed People’s Movement: Leftists, Liberals, and Labor in Georgia, 1929–1941, by Elna C. Green
  • Malcolm, Peter’s War: A New England Slave Boy and the American Revolution, by Walter Sargent
  • Mann, The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War, by Elizabeth Edwards Spalding
  • Marrs, Railroads in the Old South: Pursuing Progress in a Slave Society, by William G. Thomas III
  • Matheson, Presidential Constitutionalism in Perilous Times, by Gordon Silverstein
  • Mayfield, Counterfeit Gentlemen: Manhood and Humor in the Old South, by Lorri Glover
  • McKee, The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, by John Hinshaw
  • Mifflin, The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman, by Nicole Tonkovich
  • Mizruchi, The Rise of Multicultural America: Economy and Print Culture, 1865–1915, by Peter Conolly-Smith
  • More, Fee, and Parry, eds., Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine, by Karen Kruse Thomas
  • Moreton, To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise, by Pamela E. Pennock
  • Morris, The Limits of Voluntarism: Charity and Welfare from the New Deal through the Great Society, by Patrick D. Reagan
  • Morrison, The Political Philosophy of George Washington, by John E. Ferling
  • Munsell, From Redstone to Ludlow: John Cleveland Osgood’s Struggle against the United Mine Workers of America, by María E. Montoya
  • Myers-Shirk, Helping the Good Shepherd: Pastoral Counselors in a Psychotherapeutic Culture, 1925–1975, by Michael G. Kenny
  • Nelson, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, by W. Patrick McCray
  • Norris, North for the Harvest: Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry, by Frank Barajas
  • Oertel, Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre–Civil War Kansas, by Craig Miner
  • Patterson, The Mosquito Crusades: A History of the American Anti-Mosquito Movement from the Reed Commission to the First Earth Day, by Thomas R. Dunlap
  • Payne, Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding’s Scandalous Legacy, by Eugene P. Trani
  • Peavy and Smith, Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School, Basketball Champions of the World, by C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa
  • Peskin, Captives and Countrymen: Barbary Slavery and the American Public, 1785–1816, by Eric Kimball
  • Pestana, Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World, by Ned Landsman
  • Powe, The Supreme Court and the American Elite, 1789–2008, by Richard L. Pacelle Jr.
  • Ramírez, The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory, by Lorena Oropeza
  • Read, Majority Rule versus Consensus: The Political Thought of John C. Calhoun, by Gillis John Harp
  • Rice, Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson, by Greg O’Brien
  • Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore, by Simon P. Newman
  • Rorabaugh, The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election, by Dean J. Kotlowski
  • Rossinow, Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America, by Jennifer Leigh Mittelstadt
  • Schneider, Smack: Heroin and the American City, by Timothy A. Hickman
  • Schrank, Art and the City: Civic Imagination and Cultural Authority in Los Angeles, by Catherine Gudis
  • Schwartz, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America, by Paul G. Ashdown
  • Scully, Religion and the Making of Nat Turner’s Virginia: Baptist Community and Conflict, 1740–1840, by Rodger M. Payne
  • Selverstone, Constructing the Monolith: The United States, Great Britain, and International Communism, 1945–1950, by Irwin M. Wall
  • Sheehan, James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government, by Richard K. Matthews
  • Shell-Weiss, Coming to Miami: A Social History, by James B. Crooks
  • Shogan, Backlash: The Killing of the New Deal, by Michael E. Parrish
  • Sidorick, Condensed Capitalism: Campbell Soup and the Pursuit of Cheap Production in the Twentieth Century, by Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt
  • Silbey, Party over Section: The Rough and Ready Presidential Election of 1848, by John C. Pinheiro
  • Simmons, Making Marriage Modern: Women’s Sexuality from the Progressive Era to World War II, by Kristin Celello
  • Skemp, First Lady of Letters: Judith Sargent Murray and the Struggle for Female Independence, by Marion Rust
  • Slauter, The State as a Work of Art: The Cultural Origins of the Constitution, by J. M. Opal
  • Smith, Race, Labor, and Civil Rights: Griggs versus Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity, by Thomas F. Jackson
  • Solomon, fdr v. the Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy, by David E. Kyvig
  • Sowards, The Environmental Justice: William O. Douglas and American Conservation, by J. Brooks Flippen
  • Spiro, Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant, by Wendy Kline
  • Stacy, Walt Whitman’s Multitudes: Labor Reform and Persona in Whitman’s Journalism and the First Leaves of Grass, 1840–1855, by James Perrin Warren
  • Stagg, Borderlines in Borderlands: James Madison and the Spanish-American Frontier, 1776–1821, by Robert J. Alderson Jr.
  • Stecopoulos, Reconstructing the World: Southern Fictions and U.S. Imperialisms, 1898–1976, by Daniel S. Margolies
  • Stephens, The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South, by Jonathan Walton
  • Stevens, Radical L.A.: From Coxey’s Army to the Watts Riots, 1894–1965, by Michael W. Flamm
  • Sundquist, King’s Dream, by Robert J. Cook
  • Syrett, The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities, by Jennifer R. Green
  • Taaffe, Commanding Lincoln’s Navy: Union Naval Leadership during the Civil War, by David Curtis Skaggs
  • Tanaka and Young, eds., Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth-Century History, by Herbert Bix
  • Taylor, The History of the North Carolina Communist Party, by Brian Birdnow
  • Temkin, The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial, by Fraser M. Ottanelli
  • Thompson, Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans, by Shannon Lee Dawdy
  • Thompson, “In the Hands of a Good Providence”: Religion in the Life of George Washington, by Paul K. Longmore
  • VanderVelde, Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier, by Wilma King
  • Vogel, The Scene of Harlem Cabaret: Race, Sexuality, Performance, by Anne Elizabeth Carroll
  • Walker, National Security and Core Values in American History, by David S. Patterson
  • Weems, Business in Black and White: American Presidents and Black Entrepreneurs in the Twentieth Century, by Tony A. Freyer
  • Welky, The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II, by Bernard F. Dick
  • Wells, Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, fdr, and the Jews of Sosúa, by Eric Paul Roorda
  • Wenger, We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom, by Carter Jones Meyer
  • Wenger, A Country Storekeeper in Pennsylvania: Creating Economic Networks in Early America, 1790–1807, by Thomas S. Wermuth
  • Wexler, The Woman Who Walked into the Sea: Huntington’s and the Making of a Genetic Disease, by Naomi Rogers
  • Williams and Lazerow, eds., Liberated Territory: Untold Local Perspectives on the Black Panther Party, by Floyd Hayes III
  • Witwer, Shadow of the Racketeer: Scandal in Organized Labor, by Joshua B. Freeman
  • Wood, Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890–1940, by Michael J. Pfeifer
  • Woyshner, The National pta, Race, and Civil Engagement, 1897–1970, by John M. Heffron
  • Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic, by Owen S. Ireland
  • Zelner, A Rabble in Arms: Massachussetts Towns and Militiamen during King Philip’s War, by Philip Ranlet

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Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

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Contents of Volume 96

Index to Volume 96

View the Index to Volume 96 online >

cover image

On the cover:

“The Lyceum Committeeman’s Dream—Some Popular Lecturers in Character,” by C. S. Reinhart, depicts both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as two of the most widely sought-after speakers in the nation. Harper’s Weekly, Nov 15, 1873. See Lisa Tetrault, “The Incorporation of American Feminism: Suffragists and the Postbellum Lyceum” p. 1027.

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