Editors’ Note for March 2023 JCWE

Editors’ Note for March 2023 JCWE

Welcome to the first issue of the 2023 volume of the Journal of the Civil War Era. The issue features three research essays and a review essay that highlight the journal’s broad geographical, chronological, and topical coverage. We present articles that take us from the antebellum North to California to Indian Country and to the Ottoman Empire, and that tackle antislavery politics, dynamics of race and status in overlapping empires, and patronage politics and international diplomacy.

Bryan LaPointe’s article, “A Right to Speak: Formerly Enslaved People and the Political Antislavery Movement in Antebellum America,” is the winner of the 2021 Anthony E. Kaye Memorial Essay Award. LaPointe demonstrates that on the lecture stump, formerly enslaved men often drew on their own experiences to incite moral outrage among Northern largely white audiences. While freed women were rarely political speakers, they shaped politics through their interactions with white male politicians, who often spoke of their plight to elicit audiences’ sympathies. LaPointe’s piece contributes to our growing understanding of how, through channels other than voting, Black Americans influenced politics in the antebellum north.

Antebellum California is the subject of Camille Suárez’s essay, “A Legal Confiscation: The 1851 Land Act and the Transformation of Californios into Colonized Colonizers.” Suárez examines the way elite Californios—who were of Spanish and sometimes Native origin and owned land in California before the US-Mexico War—tried to forge alliances with Anglo-Americans in the early days of statehood. Portraying themselves as gente de razón who were entitled to land and political rights based on their Christianity and “civilized” modes of behavior, elite Californios were disappointed to discover how many Anglos saw them as their inferiors. Adopting an innovative turn of phrase, Suárez argues that the Californios thus became “colonized colonizers,” in an article that examines struggles over land claims in the state courts.

In “The ‘Bull-Dog’ in Istanbul: James Longstreet’s Revealing Tour as US Minister to Turkey, 1880–81,” Elizabeth R. Varon takes us to the post–Civil War period, when former Confederate general James Longstreet served as US minister to the Ottoman Empire. Joining other recent investigations into American foreign policy during Reconstruction, Varon uses Longstreet’s tour as minister to shed light on the complicated career of this unusual Confederate-turned-Republican. As minister, Longstreet engaged with complex questions of US-Ottoman diplomacy, including US efforts  to protect missionaries. Longstreet’s tenure in Istanbul and his return to Georgia to become a US marshal suggest both the power of his commitment to postwar Republicanism and the relative powerlessness of the Republican Party to project its force onto the South or the world.

In a review essay, “Black Slaves and Indian Owners: The Continuous Rediscovery of Indian Territory,” Alaina E. Roberts charts historians’ approaches to the history of Native peoples of the US South over the last century. Scholars have become increasingly interested in Native people’s ownership of slaves and in the perspectives of the people of African descent who were enslaved by Native groups and later became free in Indian Territory. Providing a helpful resource for readers looking to deepen their understanding of the field, Roberts also links the past with the present by reminding readers of continuing conflicts about the tribal membership of descendants of freedpeople in Indian country.

We are pleased to publish the usual complement of book reviews that range across many areas embraced in the Civil War Era. We are, as always, grateful to the associate editors and to the article authors, book reviewers, and peer reviewers who keep the journal in working order. We also thank Penn State PhD candidate Ed Green, who in the summer of 2022 completed his term as graduate assistant to the journal, and we wish him well with his dissertation. We’re delighted to welcome Heather Walser as the new graduate assistant, and we congratulate managing editor Matt Isham on the new addition to his family. 

Kate Masur and Greg Downs

Kate Masur is an associate professor at Northwestern University, specializing in the history of the nineteenth-century United States, focusing on how Americans grappled with questions of race and equality after the abolition of slavery. Greg Downs, who studies U.S. political and cultural history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is a professor of history at University of California--Davis. Together they edited an essay collection on the Civil War titled The World the Civil War Made (North Carolina, 2015), and they currently co-edit The Journal of the Civil War Era.

One Reply to “Editors’ Note for March 2023 JCWE”

  1. For other uses of the phrase “colonized colonizer” in the JCWE and alternative racial discourses, see Marise Bachand, “Disunited Daughters of the Confederations: Creoles and Canadians at the Intersection of Nations, States, and Empire” in the December 2017 issue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.