- Editor's Note
Welcome to the third volume year of The Journal of the Civil War Era. This month's contributors continue the tradition of finding fresh perspectives on the era as they bring various literatures into new conversations with each other.
Leading off the research articles, Amber Moulton examines the ban on interracial marriage in antebellum Massachusetts, revealing that abolitionists changed course in their strategy. They made little progress in arguing for an end to the law because of racial discrimination, shifting instead to a multifaceted effort that linked with the moral reform movement. In the next article, Marc-William Palen calls for fresh attention to the importance of the Morrill Tariff, arguing that it deserves more than a footnote in any discussion of British sympathies in the American Civil War. Finally, Joy M. Giguere provides analysis of the Sphinx, which she characterizes as the most radical monument in the history of Civil War commemoration. Yet this monument in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was not meant to promise a nation of equals.
The two special pieces assigned for this issue show the benefits of expanding how we think about comparative history and how the story of the war has changed in museums.
In the slot for our historiographic essay, Enrico Dal Lago offers an extended thought piece comparing ideals from the American Civil War with those of Italian unification. The author argues that the two movements in the nineteenth century represent the triumph of liberal principles in what he terms "progressive nationalism." In doing so, Dal Lago presses the case for the inclusion of the United States as part of the scholarly examination of nation-building in the western world—something that has not been typical.
Finally, James Broomall closes this issue with an evaluation of the state of interpretation in Virginia museums, especially Richmond and Petersburg. The former Confederate capital had been the scene of controversy over past interpretations of the war in public; however, the scene during the sesquicentennial has been much calmer. What does that mean for the kind of history reflected in museums? The news appears to be good, with considerable expansion of themes that set the war within a broader, more inclusive context, although the author suggests more work lies ahead. [End Page 1]