Journal of American History

Presidential Address

A Commemoration and a Historical Mediation

Richard Hofstadter speaks from a lectern at Columbia University, c. 1968.
Courtesy Richard Hofstadter Papers, Columbia University.

History has no monopoly on the past. Like memory, public commemorations, and monuments, history mediates between past and present. But as a mediation, it can achieve only temporary success because the world changes too fast. It outdistances our histories. In his presidential address to the 2007 Organization of American Historians convention, Richard White puts forth a brief history of the mediation of American historians and their attempts to connect their American presents to their American pasts. (pp. 1073–81) Read online >


The Labors of Liberality: Christian Benevolence and National Prejudice in the American Founding

Pastor of the First, or Benevolent, Congregational Society in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1783 to 1803, the Reverend Enos Hitchcock was one of the most prominent—and agreeable—supporters of the federal Constitution in a strongly Antifederalist state. Anonymous pastel on paper, c. 1775–1780, attributed to William Blodgett.
Courtesy Rhode Island Historical Society.

An ongoing debate over the moral and political values of late eighteenth-century America focuses on the meaning and implications of what people of the era called “liberality.” Far from being an excuse for interest-driven behavior, J. M. Opal argues, liberality combined Enlightenment and Christian principles of broad-mindedness and tolerance. It evoked the humanitarian dream of “universal benevolence” and authorized early efforts to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. During the 1780s, liberal ideas also enabled supporters of the federal Constitution to disdain and deflect Antifederalist claims that the document was “narrow” and “bigoted” by portraying it instead as a blueprint for a more just and humane world. Opal seeks to clarify the complex interplay of religion, politics, and ethics in post-Revolution America and to consider America’s liberal tradition in terms that the Founders would have understood. (pp. 1082–107) Read online >

“The Slightest Semblance of Unruliness”: Steamboat Excursions, Pleasure Resorts, and the Emergence of Segregation Culture on the Potomac River

The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department’s patrol boat Vigilant began plying the Potomac River in 1897. The use of this new, faster boat coincided with a dramatic expansion of the city’s police force and with increased surveillance over African American activities on the river and at the city’s wharves.
Courtesy Frederick Tilp, This Was Potomac River.

The early twentieth century has been called the golden age of public amusements in America, but that golden age was predicated on the exclusion of African Americans from the era’s new public leisure spaces. Black entrepreneurs, such as Lewis Jefferson in Washington, D.C., responded to African Americans’ demands for their own places of amusement. By the late 1890s, black excursion boats floated alongside segregated steamers on the Potomac River, and black parties flocked to their own riverside resorts. But, as Andrew W. Kahrl shows in the essay that won the 2007 Louis Pelzer Award, the dignity and autonomy guests sought at Jefferson’s Notley Hall resort contrasted with frightening new caricatures of African American leisure in mass-culture publications and increasingly sophisticated forms of surveillance and harassment. Kahrl explores the politics of leisure at the dawn of the Jim Crow era and the strategies African Americans employed to circumvent exclusions, combat stereotypes, and capitalize on segregation. (pp. 1108–36) Read online >

“Not Marriage at All, but Simple Harlotry”: The Companionate Marriage Controversy

Josephine Haldeman-Julius and Aubrey Clay Roselle (photographed after their honey­moon) became lightning rods for a national debate over modern morals when they celebrated their “companionate marriage” in 1927 in Girard, Kansas.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

The phrase “companionate marriage” figures prominently in historians’ descriptions of the middle-class marital norms that accompanied the emergence of sexual modernism in the early twentieth-century United States. Rebecca L. Davis shows that rather than characterizing an accepted social ideal, the term “companionate marriage” provoked widespread outrage. By focusing on how the term was popularized and interpreted following the publication of Judge Ben B. Lindsey’s book The Companionate Marriage in 1927, Davis shows how the era’s anticommunist politics, gender conservatism, and religious tensions constrained companionate marriage’s meanings and limited its reformist scope. Debates over what companionate marriage implied contributed to a rhetorical tradition, well-established today, that links marital reform to godless, antidemocratic radicalism. (pp. 1137–63) Read online >

Americans, Germans, and War Crimes: Converging Narratives from “the Good War”

Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. strikes a commanding pose, Sicily, July 1943. The U.S. Army’s Inspector General’s Department investigated Patton’s role in the murders of some seventy Axis prisoners of war by American troops in Biscari, Sicily, that month. But no charges were brought against him, and he became an iconic figure in American memory of World War II.
Image courtesy Library of Congress.

Following World War II, the United States conducted trials intended to bring Axis personnel to justice for violating international law in their treatment of both prisoners of war and civilians. But was the United States willing to hold itself accountable to the same standard that it applied to its recent enemies? Nothing in the wartime record of the United States equaled German genocidal barbarity, but all participants in World War II committed smaller-scale atrocities against enemy troops and civilians. James J. Weingartner explores the reaction of the U.S. Army to two such war crimes, one committed by Germans and one by Americans, and the way those crimes have been processed in the collective memories of the two peoples. (pp. 1164–83) Read online >

Textbooks & Teaching

To consult syllabi for courses described in this “Textbooks & Teaching” section, along with other supplementary material and the full text of the articles, visit

  • “Beyond Best Practices: Taking Seriously the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,” by Gary J. Kornblith and Carol Lasser (pp. 1356–57) Read online >
  • “Starting Places: Studying How Students Understand History,” by Scott E. Casper (pp. 1184–85) Read online >
  • “‘Famous Americans’: The Changing Pantheon of American Heroes,” by Sam Wineburg and Chauncey Monte-Sano (pp. 1186–202) Read online >
  • “A Place for Regions in the Modern U.S. Survey?” by David M. Wrobel (pp. 1203–1210) Read online >
  • “The History Learning Project: A Department ‘Decodes’ Its Students,” by Arlene Díaz, Joan Middendorf, David Pace, and Leah Shopkow (pp. 1211–24) Read online >

Book Reviews

March 2008, Vol. 94 No. 4

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

  • Binkley, Getting Loose: Lifestyle Consumption in the 1970s, by Elana Levine
  • Blanke, Hell On Wheels: The Promise and Peril of America’s Car Culture, 1900–1940, by Christopher W. Wells
  • Brown, ed., Reconstructions: New Perspectives on the Postbellum United States, by Wayne K. Durrill
  • Burton, The Age of Lincoln, by Edward J. Blum
  • Butler, Critical Americans: Victorian Intellectuals and Transatlantic Liberal Reform, by Murney M. Gerlach
  • Campbell, The Year That Defined American Journalism: 1897 and the Clash of Paradigms, by Richard Kaplan
  • Capper, Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life; The Public Years, by David M. Robinson
  • Carter, The Heart of Whiteness: Normal Sexuality and Race in America, 1880–1940, by Lisa Lindquist Dorr
  • Casas, Married to a Daughter of the Land: Spanish-Mexican Women and Interethnic Marriage in California, 1820–1880, by Dedra McDonald Birzer
  • Cash, Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse: A Life in Medicine and Public Service (1754–1846), by Ben Mutschler
  • Clarke, Trust and Power: Consumers, the Modern Corporation, and the Making of the United States Automobile Market, by Bruce E. Seely
  • Clifford and Wilson, eds., Presidents, Diplomats, and Other Mortals: Essays Honoring Robert H. Ferrell, by David Clinton
  • Coleman, American Indians, the Irish, and Government Schooling: A Comparative Study, by Richard J. Altenbaugh
  • Cook, Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961–1965, by Richard Striner
  • Cook-Lynn, New Indians, Old Wars, by Barton H. Barbour
  • Diggins, Eugene O’Neill’s America: Desire under Democracy, by Brenda Murphy
  • Dirck, Lincoln the Lawyer, by William D. Pederson
  • Duncan, Beleaguered Winchester: A Virginia Community at War, 1861–1865, by Aaron Sheehan-Dean
  • Dunn, Dominion of Memories: Jefferson, Madison, and the Decline of Virginia, by Brian Steele
  • Emerson, The Madness of Mary Lincoln, by Gerald N. Grob
  • Estes, Ask and Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out, by David K. Johnson
  • Etulain, Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West, by Matthew W. Klingle
  • Fearon, Kansas in the Great Depression: Work Relief, the Dole, and Rehabilitation, by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
  • Feingold, “Silent No More”: Saving the Jews of Russia, The American Jewish Effort, 1967–1989, by Mark K. Bauman
  • Ferling, Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, by John Edward Grenier
  • Fogleman, Jesus Is Female: Moravians and the Challenge of Radical Religion in Early America, by Stephen L. Longenecker
  • Forbes, The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America, by Dennis K. Boman
  • Freehling, The Road to Disunion, vol. 2: Secessionists Triumphant, 1854–1861, by Mark E. Neely Jr.
  • Gac, Singing for Freedom: The Hutchinson Family Singers and the Nineteenth-Century Culture of Reform, by Michael P. Young
  • Gamber, The Boardinghouse in Nineteenth-Century America, by Jane Weiss
  • Gardner and Young, eds., Iraq and the Lessons of Vietnam: Or, How Not to Learn from the Past, by Joseph A. Fry
  • Gasman, Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund, by Jean Preer
  • Glaude, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, by Scott L. Pratt
  • Godfrey, Religion, Politics, and Sugar: The Mormon Church, the Federal Government, and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, 1907–1921, by Gene A. Sessions
  • Gray, The Making of John Ledyard: Empire and Ambition in the Life of an Early American Traveler, by Edward Watts
  • Green, Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle, by Stephen Sandford Estes Jr.
  • Haake, The State, Removal, and Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Mexico, 1620–2000, by George Pierre Castile
  • Hariman and Lucaites, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy, by Bruce Bustard
  • Harris, Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency, by Stephen L. Hansen
  • Hay and Sicherman, eds., Is There Still a West? The Future of the Atlantic Alliance, by E. Timothy Smith
  • Henderson, A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States, by John C. Pinheiro
  • Henkin, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America, by David Hochfelder
  • Hickman, The Secret Leprosy of Modern Days: Narcotic Addiction and Cultural Crisis in the United States, 1870–1920, by Janet Farrell Brodie
  • Higonnet, Attendant Cruelties: Nation and Nationalism in American History, by Eldon J. Eisenach
  • Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865–1920, by David Steigerwald
  • Horne, The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas after the Civil War, by Daniel S. Margolies
  • Jelks, African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids, by Lillian Serece Williams
  • Johnson, Hunger for the Wild: America’s Obsession with the Untamed West, by Matthew W. Klingle
  • Johnson, The Other Black Bostonians: West Indians in Boston, 1900–1950, by George A. Lévesque
  • Johnson, A Gallant Little Army: The Mexico City Campaign, by Allan Peskin
  • Jordan, Slavery and the Meetinghouse: The Quakers and the Abolitionist Dilemma, 1820–1865, by Jean Soderlund
  • Jung, The Black Hawk War of 1832, by Michael L. Tate
  • Kelsey, Archive Style: Photographs and Illustrations for U.S. Surveys, 1850–1890, by Mark Rice
  • Kidd, The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600–2000, by Jon Sensbach
  • Kirby, Mockingbird Song: Ecological Landscapes of the South, by Mart Stewart
  • Klapper, Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in America, 1880–1925, by H. Mark Wild
  • Kornbluh, The Battle for Welfare Rights: Politics and Poverty in Modern America, by Lisa D. Brush
  • Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, by Catherine L. Albanese
  • Kupperman, The Jamestown Project, by Warren R. Hofstra
  • Landsberg, Free at Last to Vote: The Alabama Origins of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, by Peyton McCrary
  • Larson, Gall: Lakota War Chief, by Bruce E. Johansen
  • Lau, Paper Families: Identity, Immigration Administration, and Chinese Exclusion, by Xiaojian Zhao
  • Leab, Orwell Subverted: The cia and the Filming of Animal Farm, by Ron Robin
  • Lee, From Snake Oil to Medicine: Pioneering Public Health, by James Colgrove
  • Leighninger, Building Louisiana: The Legacy of the Public Works Administration, by Diane Ghirardo
  • Lenthall, Radio’s America: The Great Depression and the Rise of Modern Mass Culture, by Clifford J. Doerksen
  • Leonard, The Battle for Los Angeles: Racial Ideology and World War II, by Heather Fryer
  • Lewis, ed., American Wilderness: A New History, by Richard Judd
  • Lienesch, In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolution Movement, by John P. Jackson Jr.
  • Logan, Desert Cities: The Environmental History of Phoenix and Tucson, by Douglas E. Kupel
  • Longaker, Rhetoric and the Republic: Politics, Civic Discourse, and Education in Early America, by Jennings L. Wagoner Jr.
  • McBride, Randall Lee Gibson of Louisiana: Confederate General and New South Reformer, by Bruce W. Eelman
  • McCool, Olson, and Robinson, Native Vote: American Indians, the Voting Rights Act, and the Right to Vote, by Joy Porter
  • McCraw, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction, by Robert M. Collins
  • McGowan, American Liberalism: An Interpretation for Our Time, by H. W. Brands
  • McKenna, The World’s Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century, by Albert Churella
  • McShane and Tarr, The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century, by D. Scott Molloy Jr.
  • Melosi and Pratt, eds., Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast, by Harold L. Platt
  • Melton, A Will to Choose: The Origins of African American Methodism, by Julius H. Bailey
  • Miller, Growing Girls: The Natural Origins of Girls’ Organizations in America, by Melissa R. Klapper
  • Mitchell, The Speculation Economy: How Finance Triumphed over Industry, by Robert E. Wright
  • Mitman, Breathing Space: How Allergies Shape Our Lives and Landscapes, by Susan D. Jones
  • Neckerman, Schools Betrayed: Roots of Failure in Inner-City Education, by Jonathan Zimmerman
  • Neely, The Border between Them: Violence and Reconciliation on the Kansas-Missouri Line, by Kristen T. Oertel
  • Nelson and Sheriff, A People at War: Civilians and Soldiers in America’s Civil War, 1854–1877, by James Schwartz
  • O’Donovan, Becoming Free in the Cotton South, by Mark Roman Schultz
  • Opler, For All White-Collar Workers: The Possibilities of Radicalism in New York City’s Department Store Unions, 1934–1953, by Minna P. Ziskind
  • Papas, That Ever Loyal Island: Staten Island and the American Revolution, by Thomas J. Humphrey
  • Petty, Romancing the Vote: Feminist Activism in American Fiction, 1870–1920, by Judith H. Raftery
  • Pfaelzer, Driven Out: The Forgotten War against Chinese Americans, by Huping Ling
  • Pinheiro, Manifest Ambition: James K. Polk and Civil-Military Relations during the Mexican War, by Mary Ellen Rowe
  • Postel, The Populist Vision, by Gregg Cantrell
  • Pryor, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters, by Richard B. McCaslin
  • Rogers, A Scalawag in Georgia: Richard Whiteley and the Politics of Reconstruction, by Ted Tunnell
  • Rothman, Blazing Heritage: A History of Wildland Fire in the National Parks, by Dayle C. Hardy-Short
  • Schutt, Peoples of the River Valleys: The Odyssey of the Delaware Indians, by Paul Otto
  • Settje, Lutherans and the Longest War: Adrift on a Sea of Doubt about the Cold and Vietnam Wars, 1964–1975, by Perry Bush
  • Simon, Holzer, and Vogel, eds., Lincoln Revisited: New Insights from the Lincoln Forum, by Brian R. Dirck
  • Sklar and Stewart, eds., Women’s Rights and Transatlantic Antislavery in the Era of Emancipation, by Shirley J. Yee
  • Slap, The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era, by Robert F. Engs
  • Smallwood, Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora, by James T. Campbell
  • Smith, African American Environmental Thought: Foundations, by David Turley
  • Smith, River of Dreams: Imagining the Mississippi before Mark Twain, by Gregg Camfield
  • Smith, “Something on My Own”: Gertrude Berg and American Broadcasting, 1929–1956, by Susan Ware
  • Smith, The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice, by Douglas A. Sweeney
  • Statler, Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam, by Matthew Jones
  • Suri, Henry Kissinger and the American Century, by John Prados
  • Taslitz, Reconstructing the Fourth Amendment: A History of Search and Seizure, 1789–1868, by Daniel Wilson Hamilton
  • Taylor, If We Must Die: Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade, by Junius P. Rodriguez
  • Thrush, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, by Cathleen D. Cahill
  • Tone and Watkins, eds., Medicating Modern America: Prescription Drugs in History, by Gregory J. Higby
  • Unrau, The Rise and Fall of Indian Country, 1825–1855, by Brad Agnew
  • Warren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show, by Richard W. Etulain
  • Waters and Conaway, eds., Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds, by Jacqueline Bacon
  • Weiner, Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History, by Victor I. Silverman
  • Weisenfeld, Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929–1949, by Jill Watts
  • Will de Chaparro, Death and Dying in New Mexico, by Gilberto M. Hinojosa
  • Wilson, The Women’s Joint Congressional Committee and the Politics of Maternalism, 1920–30, by Kyle E. Ciani
  • Witt, Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law, by Lucy E. Salyer
  • Wood, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, by Marty D. Matthews
  • Xu, Congress and the U.S.-China Relationship, 1949–1979, by Andrew L. Johns
  • Zeitz, White Ethnic New York: Jews, Catholics, and the Shaping of Postwar Politics, by R. Fred Wacker
  • Zellar, African Creeks: Estelvste and the Creek Nation, by Tiya Miles

Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • Digital History: Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Research, by Simon Appleford and Vernon Burton (pp. 1329–30) Read online >
  • Military Campaign Maps, by Christopher Hamner (pp. 1331–32) Read online >
  • Immigration to the United States, 1789–1930, by Tara Kathleen Kelly (p. 1332) Read online >
  • Adoption History Project, by Laura Briggs (pp. 1332–33) Read online >
  • Linus Pauling and the Race for dna: A Documentary History, by Daniel J. Cohen (pp. 1333–34) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

Browse “Recent Scholarship” listing >

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

Contents of Volume 94

Index to Volume 94

cover image

On the cover:

Judge Ben B. Lindsey, pictured here in Denver, Colorado, c. 1920, with an unwed mother, her child, and the grandmother, portrayed himself as a champion of sexual tolerance and a solver of social problems. Best-known for establishing one of the first juvenile courts, Lindsey also strove to free premarital sex and single motherhood from social stigma, doing battle with traditional moralists. Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-70604. See Rebecca L. Davis, “‘Not Marriage at All, but Simple Harlotry’: The Companionate Marriage Controversy,” p. 1137.

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