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Editors’ Overview
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Editors’ Overview

Our final issue of 2012 explores the Union’s war from the perspective of northern state governors and African American soldiers. Stephen Engle’s essay, “‘It Is Time for the States to Speak to the Federal Government’: The Altoona Conference and Emancipation,” reminds us of the often overlooked but significant role northern governors played in urging Lincoln to widen the North’s war aims beyond simply “saving” the Union. It was at Altoona in September 1862 that these governors began to view themselves as “guardians of federalism.” What is more, Engle writes, reevaluating loyal governors’ influence not only “provides a point of departure for scholars seeking to understand aspects of state and federal relations in managing the conflict,” but it also demonstrates the strength of the “federal-state and state-federal cooperation” that ultimately produced victory for the North.

“A Politics of Service: Black Northerners’ Debates over Enlistment in the American Civil War,” by Brian Taylor investigates African Americans’ shifting attitudes toward military service and their complicated concerns about citizenship. Taylor, recognizing that black northerners did not see enlistment as a foregone conclusion, carefully follows the debate between black northerners who advocated immediate enlistment and those who argued that black men should wait until guaranteed rights commensurated with full manhood and citizenship before enlisting. “In this debate,” Taylor contends, “black northerners articulated a politics of service that sought to use enlistment as a bargaining chip for the attainment of expanded rights and privileges—and through this politics of service, they evinced that they fought not to restore the old Union but to usher in a new, reformed one in which they would be treated as men and citizens.” Taylor’s pioneering research completely transforms our understanding of the internal political dynamic within northern African American communities during the Civil War by showing us debates over those communities’ relationship to the war effort that seem ripped from the pages of monographs on World War I.

Our book review section includes books from prominent Civil War historians David Blight, Earl Hess, and Joseph Glatthaar. New titles explore such wide-ranging topics as pain, suicide and depression, patents, Buffalo soldiers, and fresh examinations of Abraham Lincoln and Gettysburg. [End Page 415]

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