Journal of American History


Remembering Dinah Nevil:
Strategic Deceptions in Eighteenth-Century Antislavery

Samuel Jennings’s well-documented work Liberty Displaying the Arts and Sciences (Philadelphia, 1792) still hangs in the Library Company of Philadelphia. Quaker activists on the Library Company board and in Britain turned the commission into an antislavery statement that could serve competing English and American national agendas.
Courtesy Library Company of Philadelphia.

Dinah Nevil’s prerevolutionary suit for legal freedom prompted the formation of the world’s first antislavery organization. Kirsten Sword reconstructs the story of Nevil’s case and the politically driven efforts of a group of skilled propagandists to obscure it. In the wake of the American Revolution, a small transatlantic network of activists staged multiple founding moments for the antislavery movement with the aim of co-opting shifting national political agendas for its own ends. Using Nevil’s case as the focal point, Sword suggests how the legacy of these politically motivated strategic deceptions surrounding the antislavery cause remains evident in contemporary historical debates about the origins of antislavery, as well as in the differing ways Britons and Americans teach and commemorate antislavery as a social movement. (pp. 315–43) Read online >

Samuel Gridley Howe, the Black Population of Canada West, and the Racial Ideology of the “Blueprint for Radical Reconstruction”

The abolitionist, doctor, and educator Samuel Gridley Howe, pictured here in 1859, was appointed to the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission in 1863. Howe conducted much of
his research for the commission in Canada West, interviewing both blacks and whites there.
Courtesy West Virginia State Archives, John Brown/Boyd B. Stutler Collection, PH05-0028.

Interviews conducted by the American Freedmen’s Inquiry Commission during the American Civil War were used as evidence to support the commission’s influential policy recommendations during the debates over Reconstruction. Many of the commissioners’ recommendations relied on a limiting set of racial stereotypes, purportedly based on the testimony of blacks in Canada West. In fact, however, much of the black testimony was ignored in favor of the commissioners’ own preconceptions. In contrasting the black interviewees’ testimony with the commission’s conclusions, Matthew Furrow examines how political pressures (chiefly, concern for the racial sensitivities of the white Northern electorate) and pseudoscientific racial attitudes undermined Northern planning for Reconstruction. (pp. 344–70) Read online >

Smuggling, Globalization, and America’s Outward State, 1870—1909

U.S. Custom Service officials were a quasi-military force. This 1867 illustration depicts federal revenue agents in North Carolina exchanging fire with smugglers, who subsequently drowned when their boat capsized.
“Attack upon Smugglers by United States Revenue Officers at Masonborough, North Carolina, 1867,” Harper’s Weekly, Nov. 16, 1867, p. 729.

During the late nineteenth century, growing concerns about the effects of globalization on the United States led to widespread anxiety about the smuggling of foreign goods such as silk, opium, tobacco, sugar, and diamonds into the country. Questioning depictions of the post-Reconstruction federal government as weak, Andrew Wender Cohen argues that although the U.S. government was limited domestically, it was empowered to regulate foreign trade, enforce borders, and assert the nation’s economic interests abroad, creating an “outward state.” By profiling women, wealthy tourists, Chinese immigrants, and Jews as potential smugglers, customs officials used their authority to define America as a masculine, white, Christian republic. Smuggling provoked intense popular discussion, revealing not only a preoccupation with the tariff, but also fears of feminism, cosmopolitanism, and economic and social inequality. (pp. 371–98) Read online >

Out of the Revolution, into the Mainstream: Employment Activism in the now Sears Campaign and the Growing Pains of Liberal Feminism

“Chicago Irish Feminists for the Equal Rights Amendment, 1977.” Some members of Chicago National Organization for Women took on the cause of the equal rights amendment after their fight with Sears, Roebuck, and Company.
Courtesy University of Illinois at Chicago, Daley Library Special Collections, folder 339, box 41, acc. no. 81-18.

Katherine Turk examines transformations in the structure, tactics, and objectives of the most prominent second-wave feminist organization, the National Organization for Women (now). Her analysis of the now employment rights campaign against Sears, Roebuck, and Company, which was conceived and driven by the nascent Chicago chapter in the early 1970s and abandoned by a changing national organization several years later, reveals that as liberal feminism grew into a nationally consistent movement, early commitments to local improvisation and socioeconomic justice were lost. Even in the heyday of progressive postwar politics, Turk argues, ideological struggles among activists, rather than an impending conservative backlash, rendered feminism unable to counter either the New Right or the mass deskilling that women continue to face in the burgeoning low-wage service sector. (pp. 399–423) Read online >


Latino History: An Interchange on Present Realities and Future Prospects

Adrian Burgos Jr., Donna Gabaccia, María Cristina García, Matthew Garcia, Kelly Lytle Hernández, Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, María E. Montoya, George J. Sánchez, Virginia Sánchez Korrol, and Paul Spickard (pp. 424–63) Read online >

Interchange Supplement

Selected Book Reviews in Latino History

  • Ettinger, Imaginary Lines: Border Enforcement and the Origins of Undocumented Immigration, 1882—1930, by Grace Peña Delgado (p. 464) Read online >
  • Lewthwaite, Race, Place, and Reform in Mexican Los Angeles: A Transnational Perspective, 1890—1940, by Jennifer Lisa Koslow (p. 465) Read online >
  • Zamora, Claiming Rights and Righting Wrongs in Texas: Mexican Workers and Job Politics during World War II; and Orozco, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed: The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, by Eduardo Obregón Pagán (p. 466–8) Read online >
  • Zamora, Honor and Fidelity: The 65th Infantry in Korea, 1950–1953, by Carlos Velez-Ibanez (p. 468–9) Read online >
  • Shaw, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the ufw, and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century; and Pawel, The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez’s Farm Worker Movement, by Mario T. García (p. 469–70) Read online >
  • McCrossen, ed., Land of Necessity: Consumer Culture in the United States–Mexico Borderlands, by Geraldo Lujan Cadava (p. 471) Read online >
  • Odem and Lacy, eds., Latino Immigrants and the Transformation of the U.S. South; and Gutiérrez and Zavella, eds., Mexicans in California: Transformations and Challenges, by Ernesto Chávez (p. 472) Read online >

Book Reviews

Sept. 2010, Vol. 97 No. 2

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


Web Site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • The American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750—1789, by Edward Countryman (p. 589) Read online >
  • America’s First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839—1864, by Paula Petrik (p. 590) Read online >
  • America’s Historical Newspapers, by Bruce Chadwick (p. 591) Read online >
  • U.S. Department of State: Office of the Historian, by William M. Hammond (p. 592) Read online >
  • Clio Visualizing History, by Peter H. Wood (p. 593) Read online >

Editor’s Annual Report, 2009–2010

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:

Jackie Moore (left), the National Organization for Women (now) cofounder Kay Clarenback, the congresswoman and presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, and Mary Jean Collins at Chicago now Women’s Workplace Rights Action Conference in 1970. Courtesy University of Illinois at Chicago, Daley Library Special Collections, folder 339, box 41, acc. no. 81-18. See Katherine Turk, “Out of the Revolution, into the Mainstream: Employment Activism in the now Sears Campaign and the Growing Pains of Liberal Feminism,” p. 399.

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