Previewing the December 2020 JCWE Issue

Previewing the December 2020 JCWE Issue

This is the first editors’ note we have penned since the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other Black people and people of color in the spring of this year, and since the uprisings for racial justice that these all-too-common murders have prompted around the globe. The Civil War era was a critical moment in the long struggle for racial justice. The editors wish to amplify the many strong statements of support for activists seeking to challenge the country’s longstanding commitment to white supremacy in policing, as in many parts of US life, including statements by the American Historical Association (endorsed by the Society of Civil War Historians), the Organization of American Historians, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, and the Labor and Working-Class History Association. We aim to continue to use the journal and Muster to convey the historical roots of white supremacy, including anti-Black racism in particular, and to emphasize the agency, dignity, and effectiveness of people who struggled against it. Our aspiration is not only to illuminate the past but to participate in the construction of an antiracist profession, field, and society.

This issue includes three fine articles, a review essay, and book reviews. We are pleased to feature the first Anthony E. Kaye Memorial Essay, Robert Colby’s “‘Negroes Will Bear Fabulous Prices’: The Economics of Wartime Slave Commerce and Visions of the Confederate Future.” Colby’s article examines the buying and selling of enslaved people during the Civil War and argues that the confidence white southerners expressed in an ongoing and at times vibrant market in enslaved people reflected their expectation that the Confederacy would succeed. Campbell F. Scribner, in “Surveying the Destruction of African American Schoolhouses in the South, 1864–1876,” offers the first comprehensive study of attacks on Black schoolhouses in the closing years of the Civil War and Reconstruction and reveals the significance of violent assaults on education for the insurgency launched by ex-Confederates and their allies to regain control of the South. In “Remembering Reconstruction in Its Twilight: Ulysses S. Grant and James G. Blaine on the Origins of Black Suffrage,” Stephen A. West centers the memoirs of Grant and Blaine in the now-expanding history of Reconstruction memory, arguing that the two men’s discussion of Black suffrage demonstrates the ongoing importance of questions of national authority and white Southern antidemocratic practices in Reconstruction memory. And in the issue’s review essay, “With ‘the Economics-of-Slavery Culture Wars,’ It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again” Christopher Morris examines the revived debate on the relationship between slavery and capitalism and the engagement or lack thereof between recent studies and the vast older literature.

We draw attention to recent changes in the composition of our team of associate editors. We are tremendously grateful for the work of the three editors whose terms have recently ended. Digital Editor Kristen Epps has moved to a new job as associate professor at Kansas State University and will now edit the journal Kansas History. Epps played a crucial role in developing Muster as the first permanent digital editor. In building Muster, Epps drew on prior work launched by editor Judith Giesberg and her graduate students Elizabeth Motich and Blake McGready. Epps, in turn, deserves great credit for Muster’s continued vibrancy and popularity as a place for engaged, serious, but still relatively informal discussion of important and timely issues in history and historical memory. Book Review Editor Rachel Shelden and Co–Review Essay Editor Stacey Smith both played key roles in sustaining the journal during the interim period between editors. Fortunately for us, Shelden remains an important part of the journal in her position as director of the Richards Civil War Era Center at Penn State, and Smith continues to take an active role in an upcoming special issue.

We look forward to working with the stellar new editors who are joining us. Hilary Green, associate professor at the University of Alabama, is now our associate editor for digital projects and oversees Muster. Green’s incisive scholarly work on education and Reconstruction and her leadership in commemoration studies on campuses and elsewhere demonstrate her deep commitment to engaging with the past in academic and public venues, and we are eager to see Muster continue to develop under her leadership. The fruits of her work are already available in excellent Muster posts on the Movement for Black Lives, the battle over statues and commemoration, and other topics. Kathryn Shively joins us as associate editor for book reviews. Shively is an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, the author of excellent work on environmental and military history, and a clear voice for broadening the world of Civil War era studies. We can’t wait to see the vibrant and wide-ranging book reviews the journal will run under her guidance. Luke Harlow, associate editor for review essays, remains on the editorial team and will continue the fine work he and Smith have set in motion. As always, we are grateful to (and dependent on) the ongoing expertise of assistant Megan Hildebrand and managing editor Matthew Isham.


One Reply to “Previewing the December 2020 JCWE Issue”

  1. The attacks on Black schoolhouses and teachers is part of the untold story of Reconstruction. The assault on Black education from the moment schools commenced makes a lie of claims that resistance to Reconstruction was centered on the alleged political corruption of Republican governments in the South.

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