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Vol. 60 (2007) through current issue
The Alabama Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal that presents the best of scholarship on the history of the state. Published by the Alabama Historical Association in cooperation with the Auburn University history department, the Review covers a wide range of topics: pre-Revolutionary War colonization, Native Americans, state and regional politics, the Confederacy and the Civil War, Reconstruction, industrialization, education, the civil rights movement, and religion are only some of the subjects you will find in the pages of the Review. In addition to regular articles, the journal features book reviews and notes, annotated documents, and research opportunities.
Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause
Albert Taylor Bledsoe (1809–1877), a principal architect of the South’s “Lost Cause” mythology, remains one of the Civil War generation’s most controversial intellectuals. In Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause, Terry A. Barnhart sheds new light on this provocative figure. Bledsoe gained a respectable reputation in the 1840s and 1850s as a metaphysician and speculative theologian. His two major works, An Examination of President Edwards’ Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (1845) and A Theodicy; Or, Vindication of the Divine Glory, As Manifested in the Constitution and Government of the Moral World (1853), grapple with perplexing problems connected with causality, Christian theology, and moral philosophy. His fervent defense of slavery and the constitutional right of secession, however, solidified Bledsoe as one of the chief proponents of the idea of the Old South. In An Essay on Liberty and Slavery (1856), he assailed egalitarianism and promoted the institution of slavery as a positive good. A decade later, he continued to devote himself to fashioning the “Lost Cause” narrative as the editor and proprietor of the Southern Review from 1867 until his death in 1877. He carried on a literary tradition aimed to reconcile white southerners to what he and they viewed as the indignity of their defeat by sanctifying their lost cause. Those who fought for the Confederacy, he argued, were not traitors but honorable men who sacrificed for noble reasons. This biography skillfully weaves Bledsoe’s extraordinary life history into a narrative that illustrates the events that shaped his opinions and influenced his writings. Barnhart demonstrates how Bledsoe still speaks directly, and sometimes eloquently, to the core issues that divided the nation in the 1860s and continue to haunt it today.
Wealth, Honor, and Gentility in the South Carolina Lowcountry
William Kauffman Scarborough’s absorbing biography, The Allstons of Chicora Wood, chronicles the history of a South Carolina planter family from the opulent antebellum years through the trauma of the Civil War and postwar period. Scarborough’s examination of this extraordinarily enterprising family focuses on patriarch Robert R. F. W. Allston, his wife Adele Petigru Allston, and their daughter Elizabeth Allston Pringle Scarborough. Scarborough shows how Allston, in the four decades before the Civil War, converted a small patrimony into a Lowcountry agricultural empire of seven rice plantations, all the while earning an international reputation for the quality of his rice and his expertise. Scarborough also examines Allston’s twenty-eight-year career in the state legislature and as governor from 1856 to 1858. Upon his death in 1864, Robert Allston’s wife of thirty-two years, Adele, found herself at the head of the family. Scarborough traces how she successfully kept the family plantations afloat in the postwar years through a series of decisions that exhibited her astute business judgment and remarkable strength of character. In the next generation, one of the Allstons’ five children followed a similar path. Elizabeth “Bessie” Allston took over management of the remaining family plantations upon the death of her husband and, in order to pay off the plantation mortgages, embarked on a highly successful literary career. Bessie authored two books, the first treating her experiences as a woman rice planter and the second describing her childhood before the war. A major contribution to southern history, The Allstons of Chicora Wood provides a fascinating look at a prominent southern family that survived the traumas of war and challenges of Reconstruction.
Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War
Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, an area of pine forests, squats between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers on the border of East Texas. Originally a lawless buffer zone between Spain and the United States, its hardy residents formed tight-knit communities for protection and developed a reliance on self, kin, and neighbor. In the early 1900s, the timber boom sliced through the forests and disrupted these dense communities. Mill towns sprang up, and the promise of money lured land speculators, timber workers, unionists, and a host of other characters, such as the outlaw Leather Britches Smith. That moment continues to shape the place’s cultural consciousness, and people today fashion a lore connected to this time. In a fascinating exploration of the region, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of Leather Britches, paralleling the stages of the outlaw’s life to the Neutral Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each stage of Smith’s life: his notorious past, his audacious deeds of robbery and even generosity, his rumored connection to a local union strike—the Grabow War—significant in the annals of labor history, and his eventual death. As the outlaw’s life vividly unfolds, Always for the Underdog also reveals the area’s history and cultural landscape. Often using the particulars of one small town as a representative example, the book explores how the region remembers and reinterprets the past in order to navigate a world changing rapidly.
Most of the research on the South ties the region to the North, emphasizing racial binaries and outdated geographical boundaries, but The American South and the Atlantic World seeks a larger context. Helping to define “New” Southern studies, this book?the first of its kind?explores how the cultures, contacts, and economies of the Atlantic World shaped the South.
A Michigan Soldier’s Civil War Journal
Though many Union soldiers wrote about their experiences in the American Civil War, few had the vantage point of William Horton Kimball, a member of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. As a military engineer, Kimball spent most of his time behind the major lines of conflict and often worked among civilians who sympathized with the enemy. In Among the Enemy: A Michigan Soldier's Civil War Journal, author Mark Hoffman presents Kimball's journal as a unique window into wartime experience. Kimball was a prolific writer, and his journal is full of detailed accounts of expeditions into a hostile countryside, the bitter war against guerillas, and of the civilians caught in the middle of a traditional war waged with nontraditional means. He comments freely and openly on the strengths and weaknesses of his officers and comrades caught up in the same war. At the same time, Kimball provides moving accounts of when the Engineers were thrown into the line of battle at Perryville and Lavergne and proved themselves as soldiers capable of traditional combat. Through Kimball's account, readers can chart the important evolution of Union war policy regarding occupied populations, as well as how the American views of warfare broke down when combat moved from battlefield to countryside and soldiers in the rear became important targets for enemy action. Civil War historian Mark Hoffman introduces Kimball's writings and provides some background on Kimball's life as a soldier. He accompanies the journal entries with illustrations and maps. Kimball's account reminds readers that there was a time when Americans who honored the same founders and national holidays were seeking to kill each other in a bitter war behind the lines of traditional armies. Readers interested in military history and the Civil War will enjoy the inside perspective of Among the Enemy.
The Killing of Claude Neal
"A sensitive and forthright analysis of one of the most gruesome episodes in Florida history... McGovern has produced a richly detailed case study that should enhance our general understanding of mob violence and vigilantism." -- Florida Historical Quarterly
"[McGovern] has succeeded in writing more than a narrative account of this bloodcurdling story; he has explored its causes and ramifications." -- American Historical Review
"A finely crafted historical case study of one lynching, its antecedents, and its aftermath." -- Contemporary Sociology
First published in 1982, James R. McGovern's Anatomy of a Lynching unflinchingly reconstructs the grim events surrounding the death of Claude Neal, one of the estimated three thousand blacks who died at the hands of southern lynch mobs in the six decades between the 1880s and the outbreak of World War II.
Neal was accused of the brutal rape and murder of Lola Cannidy, a young white woman he had known since childhood. On October 26, 1934, a well-organized mob took Neal from his jail cell. The following night, the mob tortured Neal and hanged him to the point of strangulation, repeating the process until the victim died. A large crowd of men, women, and children who gathered to witness, celebrate, and assist in the lynching further mutilated Neal's body. Finally, the battered corpse was put on display, suspended as a warning from a tree in front of the Jackson County, Florida, courthouse.
Based on extensive research as well as on interviews with both blacks and whites who remember Neal's death, Anatomy of a Lynching sketches the social background of Jackson County, Florida -- deeply religious, crushed by the Depression, accustomed to violence, and proud of its role in the Civil War -- and examines which elements in the county's makeup contributed to the mob violence. McGovern offers a powerful dissection of an extraordinarily violent incident.
Many Americans view Andrew Jackson as a frontiersman who fought duels, killed Indians, and stole another man's wife. Historians have traditionally presented Jackson as a man who struggled to overcome the obstacles of his backwoods upbringing and helped create a more democratic United States. In his compelling new biography of Jackson, Mark R. Cheathem argues for a reassessment of these long-held views, suggesting that in fact "Old Hickory" lived as an elite southern gentleman.
Jackson grew up along the border between North Carolina and South Carolina, a district tied to Charleston, where the city's gentry engaged in the transatlantic marketplace. Jackson then moved to North Carolina, where he joined various political and kinship networks that provided him with entr?e into society. In fact, Cheathem contends, Jackson had already started to assume the characteristics of a southern gentleman by the time he arrived in Middle Tennessee in 1788.
After moving to Nashville, Jackson further ensconced himself in an exclusive social order by marrying the daughter of one of the city's cofounders, engaging in land speculation, and leading the state militia. Cheathem notes that through these ventures Jackson grew to own multiple plantations and cultivated them with the labor of almost two hundred slaves. His status also enabled him to build a military career focused on eradicating the nation's enemies, including Indians residing on land desired by white southerners. Jackson's military success eventually propelled him onto the national political stage in the 1820s, where he won two terms as president. Jackson's years as chief executive demonstrated the complexity of the expectations of elite white southern men, as he earned the approval of many white southerners by continuing to pursue Manifest Destiny and opposing the spread of abolitionism, yet earned their ire because of his efforts to fight nullification and the Second Bank of the United States.
By emphasizing Jackson's southern identity -- characterized by violence, honor, kinship, slavery, and Manifest Destiny -- Cheathem's narrative offers a bold new perspective on one of the nineteenth century's most renowned and controversial presidents.
Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives is a collection of creative nonfiction pieces about the lively personalities who call south Louisiana home. Originally published in newspapers based in Lafayette-Times of Acadiana and Independent Weekly-the twenty-five profiles and features provide intriguing glimpses into the lives of well-known Louisianans such as James Lee Burke, Ernest J. Gaines, Elemore Morgan Jr., Buckwheat Zydeco, Marc Savoy, Boozoo Chavis, Calvin Borel, Santy Runyon, and Eddie Shuler. Author R. Reese Fuller also details the sometimes zany and sometimes tragic subjects that populate the cultural landscape of south Louisiana, from Tabasco peppers to Angola prison to cockfighting.
Fuller brings years of experience in the newspaper industry to bear on this collection, offering behind-the-scenes access not available elsewhere. Of particular note are his interviews with musicians and local celebrities, who reveal how their love of the region has influenced their work. Fuller's natural approach to storytelling creates a book that is a joy to read and truly represents the people of south Louisiana.
In the Civil War era, Americans nearly unanimously accepted that humans battled in a cosmic contest between good and evil and that God was directing history toward its end. The concept of God's Providence and of millennialism -- Christian anticipations of the end of the world -- dominated religious thought in the nineteenth century. During the tumultuous years immediately prior to, during, and after the war, these ideas took on a greater importance as Americans struggled with the unprecedented destruction and promise of the period.
Scholars of religion, literary critics, and especially historians have acknowledged the presence of apocalyptic thought in the era, but until now, few studies have taken the topic as their central focus or examined it from the antebellum period through Reconstruction. By doing so, the essays in Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era highlight the diverse ways in which beliefs about the end times influenced nineteenth-century American lives, including reform culture, the search for meaning amid the trials of war, and the social transformation wrought by emancipation. Millennial zeal infused the labor of reformers and explained their successes and failures as progress toward an imminent Kingdom of God. Men and women in the North and South looked to Providence to explain the causes and consequences of both victory and defeat, and Americans, black and white, experienced the shock waves of emancipation as either a long-prophesied jubilee or a vengeful punishment. Religion fostered division as well as union, the essays suggest, but while the nation tore itself apart and tentatively stitched itself back together, Americans continued looking to divine intervention to make meaning of the national apocalypse.
Contributors:Edward J. BlumRyan CordellZachary W. DresserJennifer GraberMatthew HarperCharles F. IronsJoseph MooreRobert K. NelsonScott Nesbit Jason PhillipsNina Reid-MaroneyBen Wright