Current Issue Article Abstracts
Winter 2021, Vol. 41.4
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The intersection of Albert Gallatin’s career and Geneva’s careening revolutionary course shows the significance of Gallatin’s origins as he rose as a Democratic-Republican leader and it expands our understanding of the sources of Federalist nativism in the intersection of concerns about immigrants and foreign plots. Federalists had attacked Gallatin’s citizenship in expelling him from the senate in 1794, and his Genevanness became more important to Federalists that year in the face of the Western Insurrection and a Jacobin-inspired revolutionary tribunal in Geneva. Knowledge of Geneva—shaped by the English immigrant editor William Cobbett and the Geneva exiles in London François d’Ivernois and David Chauvet—deepened Federalists’ suspicion of Gallatin’s conduct in anti-excise meetings that mirrored the subversion of Geneva’s government by Jacobin clubs; in ostensibly Genevan subservience to France in pushing the House to scuttle the Jay Treaty; in opposing expenditures to defend the country from France, just as Genevans of dubious allegiances had invited the Directory’s agents in advance of French annexation. Geneva’s experiences dramatized Federalist fears of France; Gallatin the Genevan embodied Federalist fears of foreign influence in the United States. Those dual nativist concerns contributed motivations for, and enhanced the defense of, the Alien and Sedition Acts.
This essay explores the material origins of gold coinage to argue that enslaved gold miners built the metallic foundations of America’s financial system. It traces two concurrent changes in the production and use of the nation’s first domestically mined specie from the 1830s to the 1850s. During America’s first gold rush in the late 1820s and early 1830s, white mine owners transported thousands of enslaved miners to goldfields in northern Georgia and western North Carolina. As mines grew, the industry shifted away from the undifferentiated workforces of the early gold rush and came to rely on enslaved women who were experts in the technically-complex work of refining gold. As the means of mining shifted, so did the kind of money that gold became. In the early 1830s, the Second Bank of the United States sought southern gold, which it used to back paper money. In the midst of the Bank War, hard money advocates and Democratic partisans came believe that coins made from Southern gold held the key to a safer and more stable currency system. As a result, the federal government provided economic and technical support to the slave-labor dependent mining industry in the name of monetary reform. Using gold mine owners’ account books and correspondence, the records of the US Mint, Congressional debates, newspapers, geological reports and scientific treatises, this article underscores the links between the material production of coin and abstract capital, demonstrating that the antebellum period’s political debates and financial institutions all revolved around acquiring and controlling gold made by enslaved men and women.
Recent scholarship on the American Bible has explored its production, interpretation, rhetorical usage, and authority. Less studied are the images of the illustrated Bibles that proliferated in the early nineteenth century. One of the most innovative and successful of these, Harper & Brothers’ artistic and highly ornamented Illuminated and New Pictorial Bible, serves as a locus point for understanding the significance of early nineteenth century Bibles’ illustrations. The Illuminated Bible’s emphasis on beauty, mercy, compassion, emotion, and sympathy reflected a shift toward a maternal Protestantism, while the sheer number of images and their embedding within the text serves as commentary on the text itself. This is a gendered commentary, interpreting the Bible through the lens of a feminine sentimental ideal, and serving as the basis of the Illuminated Bible’s reliability, trustworthiness, and authority. Stylistically, the artists of the Illuminated Bible, led by John Gadsby Chapman, employed a mishmash of baroque, neoclassical, rococo, and romantic elements to communicate a refined feminine sentimentality. The Illuminated Bible’s gendered imagery not only marketed the text to women consumers seeking to sacralize their parlors, but also interpreted the text in a sentimentalized fashion, communicating a refined, middle-class theology. Such “Christian refinement” was a juxtaposition of contrasting styles—classical and modern, Christian and pagan—reflecting the contradictory nature of Victorianism itself. The images of the Illuminated Bible enshrined these contradictions. Women were pious, submissive, maternal guardians of a sentimentalized domestic world, but they were also active, public spiritual agents, chosen by their Creator for a starring role in his narrative. The images of Harper’s Bible reflect the tensions inherent in America’s Protestant communities as women were celebrated for their piety even as they threatened the paternal order by using their religious identities to carve out public roles in biblical education, writing, and leadership of moral-reform associations.
Introducing “Engaging Historiography”
Andy Shankman, Johann Neem
With Christina Snyder’s essay on removals, we are excited to launch a new regular series for the Journal of the Early Republic: “Engaging Historiography.” The series is an effort to bring more expansive and meaningful discussion of historiography into the journal’s main pages. We are hoping that the pieces we publish will become anchor essays for graduate seminars; provide new ideas for scholars to bring into their classrooms, public exhibits, and research; and ultimately help steer the field. At a time when so much good scholarship is being published in our field, we expect that “Engaging Historiography” will help our readers take stock and participate in valuable conversations.
Many Removals: Re-evaluating the Arc of Indigenous Dispossession
This historiographical essay examines scholarship on Indian Removal, the U.S. Indian policy that sought to dispossess and forcibly relocate Indigenous peoples of eastern North America to lands west of the Mississippi River. Because of the Cherokee Nation’s public relations campaign and their success in Worcester v. Georgia (1832), much scholarship has focused on political relations among the Cherokee Nation, Georgia, and the federal government. Increasingly, however, scholars are encouraging us to expand our understanding of Removal temporally and geographically. Using neglected sources and new concepts, recent scholarship presents a wider range of perspectives and experiences including those of non-elite Native people and tribal nations usually left out of the story. Removal, as these works demonstrate, was both more widespread and varied than previous histories have acknowledged.
The Natural History of Sexuality in Early America by Greta LaFleur (review)
Kate Luce Mulry, Jessica Choppin Roney, Whitney Martinko
Conceived in Crisis: The Revolutionary Creation of an American State by Christopher R. Pearl (review)
Occupied America: British Military Rule and the Experience of Revolution by Donald F. Johnson (review)
Armed Citizens: The Road from Ancient Rome to the Second Amendment by Noah Shusterman (review)
The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Reference Guide by Stuart Leibiger (review)
Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution by Michael Hattem (review)
Redemption from Tyranny: Herman Husband’s American Revolution by Bruce E. Stewart (review)
First and Always: A New Portrait of George Washington by Peter R. Henriques (review)
The First Inauguration: George Washington and the Invention of the Republic by Stephen Howard Browne (review)
Nathaniel C. Green
George Washington’s Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and a Nation by Robert P. Watson (review)
Bank Notes and Shinplasters: The Rage for Paper Money in the Early Republic by Joshua R. Greenberg (review)
Katie A. Moore
The Lost Tradition of Economic Equality in America, 1600–1870 by Daniel R. Mandell (review)
The Federalist Frontier: Settler Politics in the Old Northwest, 1783– 1840 by Kristopher Maulden (review)
Grassroots Leviathan: Agricultural Reform and the Rural North in the Slaveholding Republic by Ariel Ron (review)
Beneath the Backbone of the World: Blackfoot People and the North American Borderlands, 1720–1877 by Ryan Hall (review)
Pursuing Respect in the Cannibal Isles: Americans in Nineteenth-Century Fiji by Nancy Shoemaker (review)
American Freethinker: Elihu Palmer and the Struggle for Religious Freedom in the New Nation by Kirsten Fischer (review)
Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity ed. by Michael Hubbard Mackay, Mark Ashurst-McGee and Brian M. Hauglid (review)
Benjamin E. Park
Humbug! The Politics of Art Criticism in New York City’s Penny Press by Wendy Jean Katz (review)
Rachel N. Klein
The Yellow Demon of Fever: Fighting Disease in the Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Slave Trade by Manuel Barcia (review)
The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage by John Harris (review)
Yuletide in Dixie: Slavery, Christmas, and Southern Memory by Robert E. May (review)
Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond’s Historic Cemeteries by Ryan K. Smith (review)
Joy M. Giguere