Current Issue Article Abstracts

Fall 2020, Vol. 40.3

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ARTICLES

Denouncing Secrecy and Defining Democracy in the Early American Republic
Katlyn Marie Carter

Exploring the intense and common critique of secrecy articulated by the Federalists' opponents both before and after ratification, this article sheds new light on the way in which the Constitution left open the question of what it meant to represent the people in government. The article traces how concerns about secrecy were amplified in the early republic, becoming a primary discourse in which Federalist policies were contested and serving as glue that bound former Antifederalists with Democratic-Republicans who had championed ratification, most notably James Madison. The article also examines debates about secrecy to underscore their centrality to the conception and construction of representative democracy. Attitudes about secrecy reflected underlying beliefs about the role of a representative and what made him legitimate as such. By asking why critics identified secrecy as threatening, the article uncovers the way in which political procedures were both reflective and constitutive of ideas about representative government, how it should work, and what made it legitimate.

Jefferson's Whale: Race, Climate, and Commerce in Early America
Matthew Crow

When in 1852 Frederick Douglass hailed whaling in the Pacific Ocean as labor that black and white men did together, and in 1851 when Herman Melville cited Thomas Jefferson's "Observations on the Whale Fishery" in the opening extracts of Moby-Dick, both Douglass and Melville alluded to a history of the entanglements of whaling, national identity, and slavery that had been a long time in the making. When Jefferson wrote his "Observations" in 1788, he was putting his thinking about a warming climate, the rivers and coasts that connected the American interior to the Atlantic Ocean, and the political transformations of a revolutionary Atlantic world to work in the service of a very particular vision of the future. He was certainly doing much more than representing the interests of Nantucket whalers, the purported goal of the report. Indeed, he was attempting to graft his vision of republicanism onto an oceanic world of contested geopolitics and natural history. The issue of whaling implicated Jefferson's entire body of thought and with it the Jeffersonian project of continental expansion and agrarian political economy, the viability of American empire, and the legal and environmental security of white supremacy and planter enlightenment.

"The Cause of Human Freedom": John Quincy Adams and the Problem of Opium in the Age of Emancipation
Alastair Su

On November 20, 1841, John Quincy Adams delivered an address that shocked the nation. The former President, Congressman, and advocate of the Amistad slaves, urged his fellow citizens to support Britain's cause in the Opium War, which, as he put it, was a war for "human freedom." Why would so zealous a champion against slavery endorse a war to sell an addictive substance? This article offers a critical reinterpretation of Adams's lecture on China. By focusing on an excised portion of his original manuscript, it argues that Adams's remarks can only be understood because of—and not in spite of—his antislavery convictions. At a time when Britain was curtailing the interests of Southern slaveholders through meddling in the coastwise slave trade, Adams attempted to shield Britain's moral capital through an ambitious, if problematic, exposition of political theory. This article therefore makes the case that Adams's remarks on China deserve a more prominent place in his oeuvre. By recasting the Opium War as a landmark in the age of emancipation, Adams calls attention to a factor that many scholars of slavery and abolition may have missed: how the problem of racial slavery in the nineteenth century became inseparable from the problem of opium addiction.

The Cultural Economy of the Manufacturing Revolution: Cultural Identification and Economic Realities in Early Republic Baltimore
Richard Chew

This study demonstrates that the mediation of the word manufacturer by Americans at the turn of the nineteenth century produced at least two semantic representations of manufacturers. One representation was aspirational, and was based on what manufacturing boosters and supporters of large-scale manufacturing enterprises hoped that manufacturers would one day become. The other mediation of the word defined it through negation, or by what manufacturers lacked, were perceived to lack, or were in the act of losing when contrasted to other handicraft producers. Understanding these representations of a manufacturer at the turn of the nineteenth century, using Baltimore as the case study, is a vital step in understanding the cultural economy of the early republic and why there was so much agitation over the new nation's economic transformation, often referred to as the "market revolution." It also provides a promising way to sift through the various layers of interpretation on the early republic's economy and create a better sense of the relative influence manufacturers had on finance, commerce, technology, and labor relations at the turn of the nineteenth century.

 

REVIEWS

Revolution against Empire: Taxes, Politics, and the Origins of American Independence by Justin du Rivage (review)
Frank W. Garmon Jr.

Phillis Wheatley Chooses Freedom: History, Poetry, and the Ideals of the American Revolution by G. J. Barker-Benfield (review)
Tara A. Bynum

Women in the American Revolution: Gender, Politics, and the Domestic World ed. by Barbara B. Oberg (review)
Sara Damiano

William Livingston's American Revolution by James J. Gigantino II (review)
Jonathan D. Sassi

The Consequences of Loyalism: Essays in Honor of Robert M. Calhoon ed. by Rebecca Brannon and Joseph S. Moore (review)
Donald F. Johnson

A Crisis of Peace: George Washington, the Newburgh Conspiracy, and the Fate of the American Revolution by David Head (review)
T. Cole Jones

Smugglers, Pirates, and Patriots: Free Trade in the Age of Revolution by Tyson Reeder (review)
Edward P. Pompeian

Jefferson, Madison, and the Making of the Constitution by Jeff Broadwater, and: The Framers' Intentions: The Myth of the Nonpartisan Constitution by Robert E. Ross (review)
Lorri Glover

The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era by Jonathan Gienapp (review)
Annette Gordon-Reed

Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family by Sara Georgini (review)
Daniel Walker Howe

Elizabeth Seton: American Saint by Catherine O'Donnell (review)
Monica L. Mercado

Bible Culture & Authority in the Early United States by Seth Perry (review)
John Fea

Ungentle Goodnights: Life in a Home for Elderly and Disabled Naval Sailors and Marines and the Perilous Seafaring Careers That Brought Them There by Christopher McKee (review)
Gabriel Loiacono

Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic by Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan (review)
Nicole Schroeder

Selling the Sights: The Invention of the Tourist in American Culture by Will B. Mackintosh (review)
Joanna Cohen

Native American Log Cabins in the Southeast ed. by Gregory A. Waselkov (review)
Rose Stremlau

Of One Mind and Of One Government: The Rise and Fall of the Creek Nation in the Early Republic by Kevin Kokomoor (review)
Daniel Dupre

Unsettling the West: Violence and State Building in the Ohio Valley by Rob Harper (review)
Matthew Ward

The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, and: Preserving the White Man's Republic: Jacksonian Democracy, Race, and the Transformation of American Conservatism. by Joshua A. Lynn (review)
Christopher Childers

Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery by Calvin Schermerhorn (review)
Kelly Houston Jones

Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation's Highest Court by Paul Finkelman (review)
Christopher M. Florio

American Abolitionism: Its Direct Political Impact from Colonial Times into Reconstruction by Stanley Harrold (review)
Craig Hollander

Slave No More: Self-Liberation before Abolitionism in the Americas by Aline Helg (review)
M. Scott Heerman

The Webster-Hayne Debate: Defining Nationhood in the Early American Republic by Christopher Childers, and: A Strife of Tongues: The Compromise of 1850 and the Ideological Foundations of the American Civil War by Stephen E. Maizlish (review)
Erik B. Alexander