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Editors' Overview

In its focus on Indian Territory and the experience of British liberals, our September issue highlights two of the new directions in the study of the American Civil War that are helping to reshape the field. Troy Smith's "Nations Colliding: The Civil War Comes to Indian Territory" explores the formal wartime alliance between the so-called Five Civilized Tribes and the Confederate States of America, a topic about which even many Civil War specialists know comparatively little. Demonstrating that this alliance emerged from a series of logical factors, including kinship ties, the existence of slavery among the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminoles, and the inability of the now-divided Union to fulfill preexisting treaty obligations, Smith argues that the war "enabled the Five Tribes' political and economic elites" to rally around new social and political identities "sculpted by the tools of race and nation that Europeans had introduced to them." By the end of the war, the leadership of these five indigenous nations, seeking to maintain their peoples' political and cultural integrity, had adapted to the exigencies of the moment by crafting new political identities that merged traditional conceptions of tribe with the notion of "a modern racially hierarchical political state." As such, Smith informs us, war and ultimately peace and Reconstruction in Indian Country revolved around indigenous leaders' successful adoption of a nineteenth-century American vocabulary, one that possessed enormous implications for federal Indian policy in the decades to come, and one that shapes tribal politics to the present day.

Michael J. Turner, meanwhile, takes us across the Atlantic to Great Britain. While much has been written about diplomatic relations between Washington, Richmond, and London, much less attention has been devoted to the war's impact on British political culture. In examining the reactions of various British liberals to the American Civil War and Reconstruction, Turner shows us that not only was the 1860s "a time of potent and meaningful interconnection between developments on either side of the Atlantic," but that British political reformers' conceptions of the United States remained complicated, even in the face of Union victory. Just as the fractious politics of peace and Reconstruction roiled the halls of government throughout the United States, they also produced marked disagreements among political thinkers in Britain. As Turner phrases [End Page 277] it, "Divergence was more obvious, perhaps, than agreement. . . . [T]he Civil War and Reconstruction indicated that liberty was contingent and that personal rights and representative institutions were likely to take different forms in different places."

Thanks to the outstanding work of Brian Craig Miller, our Review section not only continues to review more books than many comparably sized journals, but it also includes new and innovative features on a regular basis. This issue is no different. Abraham Lincoln aficionados and armchair film buffs, in particular, will have reason to rejoice as Miller has not only commissioned a lengthy review of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but managed to pull together an impressive array of historians (Catherine Clinton, Allen Guelzo, Kevin Levin, Megan Kate Nelson, John Neff, and Matthew Pinsker) for a roundtable discussion of Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln. So pop some corn and dim the lights—the show is about to begin! [End Page 278]