June 2020 (vol. 10, no. 2)

June 2020 (vol. 10, no. 2)

Volume 10, Number 2
June 2020

Editor’s Note
Stacey Smith

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Tom Watson Brown Book Award
Amy Murrell Taylor

Following the Paths of the Civil War’s Refugees from Slavery

The following represents the acceptance speech for the Watson Brown Prize for the best book published on the Civil War era in the calendar year 2018. Tad Brown, president of the Watson-Brown Foundation, awarded the prize to Amy Murrell Taylor for her book Embattled Freedom, published by UNC Press. These remarks were given at the annual banquet of the Society of Civil War Historians (SCWH), held during the Southern Historical Association annual meeting on November 8, 2019, in Louisville, Kentucky. The SCWH judges and administers the book prize.

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Marco Basile

Lincoln’s Commissioners at the International Slave Trade Courts in Sierra Leone

In 1862, Lincoln broke with longstanding US policy by agreeing with Britain to establish international courts to suppress the Atlantic slave trade. Historians have previously neglected these courts because the illicit trade’s decline in the 1860s resulted in empty dockets. This article, however, shows how the two American commissioners on the court at Freetown took up a broader intervention in Africa based in part on British imperial practices that the commissioners viewed as consistent with federal policies back home. Most notably, they proposed a treaty system with African nations that would exchange American protection, trade, and “civilizing” reforms for commitments to end slavery and its trade. This lost international history of the Civil War thus extends the history of American antislavery expansionism in West Africa into the Civil War period and captures a revealing vision of American expansion during the war beyond the consolidation of a continental empire.

Keywords: Atlantic slave trade, mixed courts, Freetown, Charles V. Dyer, Timothy R. Hibbard, American expansion in West Africa

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Jonathan S. Jones

Opium Slavery: Civil War Veterans and Opiate Addiction

This article investigates opiate addiction among Civil War veterans. Although historians have long known that many veterans developed opiate addictions, previous scholarship has neglected the lived experience of addiction and its myriad consequences for veterans in their postwar lives. Drawing upon a sample of a hundred cases, this article argues that opiate addiction caused overwhelming suffering for Civil War veterans, chiefly because “slavery” to opiates—as addiction was often described—violated prevailing ideals of manhood, morality, and mental health. Opiate addiction spelled disaster for veterans’ health and undermined claims to manhood and good moral character. Addiction also limited veterans’ access to pensions and soldiers’ homes and often resulted in involuntary commitment to mental institutions. By uncovering these previously unknown dimensions of opiate addiction, this article furthers scholarly efforts to account for the disastrous personal consequences of the Civil War for many veterans.

Keywords: Opium Slavery, Opiate Addiction, Drug Addiction, Manhood, Gender, Veterans, Mental Health, Suffering, History of Medicine

You can listen to Dr. Jones discuss his research on opiate addiction among veterans on the Rogue Historian podcast with Dr. M. Keith Harris.

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Alaina E. Roberts

A Different Forty Acres: Land, Kin, and Migration in the Late Nineteenth-Century West – Winner of the 2021 Vicki L. Ruiz Award from the Western History Association

This essay utilizes Dawes Roll testimonies to argue that by using land and migration as categories of analyses, we see how some Black and mixed-race Chickasaw freedpeople (women and men formerly enslaved by Chickasaw Indians) exercised their freedom after the Civil War not by leaving their former spaces of enslavement, but by choosing to remain in these locations. In laying claim to the land of the Five Tribes in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), people of African descent documented the ways they had come to identify with land and space through shared hardships and Black and Black Indian kinship connections. Thus, for these people, Reconstruction in the West centered more on the attainment of land and belonging than on the realization of formal citizenship rights.

Keywords: Chickasaw, Chickasaw freedmen, Five Tribes, African American, Civil War, Reconstruction, Native American, Dawes, Indian Territory, Oklahoma

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Alison Clark Efford

Civil War-Era Immigration and the Imperial United States

This historiographical essay argues that from the 1990s to the 2010s work on nineteenth-century immigration to the United States became increasingly “imperial.” Not only did historians of immigration address US territorial conquest and incursions abroad, but they also examined the disputed and changing boundaries of federal power within the country and proposed that hierarchy and inconsistency were persistent features of governance, not ever-diminishing exceptions to the rule. The essay includes analyses of scholarship on whiteness, transnationalism, borderlands, and the exclusionary laws and practices that especially targeted the Chinese. It concludes that an imperial framework usefully balances the importance of state action against the diversity of local experiences and suggests that work on immigration is useful for conceptualizing the Civil War–era United States as a whole.

Keywords: Historiography, United States empire, Whiteness, Transnationalism, Borderlands, Immigration, Immigrant exclusion

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