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An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War
The preoccupations and sentiments of a common soldier caught in the most traumatic moment in American history
Private Silas W. Haven, a native New Englander transplanted to Iowa, enlisted in 1862 to fight in a war that he believed was God’s punishment for the sin of slavery. Only through the war’s purifying bloodshed, thought Haven, could the nation be redeemed and the Union saved. Marching off to war with the 27th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, Haven left behind his wife Jane and their three young children. Over the course of four years, he wrote her nearly two hundred letters, collected here for the first time.Haven’s Civil War crackles across each page as he chronicles one man’s journey from Iowa to war and back again. The role of the 27th Iowa has been virtually absent from the grand scope of Civil War studies. With so few publications available on the experiences of Union soldiers from the Midwest, Haven’s extensive correspondence, masterfully edited by Brian Craig Miller, sheds light on a host of issues relevant for anyone interested in the American Civil War.
Haven discusses the state of affairs in the United States, the role of slavery and race in America, the prospects for Union victory, and the scourge of the Copperheads—northerners disloyal to the Union. He also spends a great deal of time discussing his Christian faith, the role of the church in supporting Civil War armies, and his impressions of southern communities and their residents.
Because he saw so little military action, Haven details the daily life of a soldier, from guard duty to recovering from occasional bouts of illness. He worries about pay, food, getting news, and his comrades. [“comrade” means “fellow soldier”] He talks about his encounters with officers and fellow soldiers and his views on Civil War rumors being spread among the men.
Haven also check on his wife and small children through his letters. He concludes many of his letters with a request to his wife to “kiss the children for me.” Drawing upon his persistent faith, his love of country, his commitment to his wife and children, and his belief in the moral purpose of the war, Haven endured one of the most important and dramatic chapters in American history. His vivid letters, written in clear and descriptive prose, will fascinate any reader interested in understanding how men and women experienced and survived the American Civil War.
Reminiscences of a Field Artillery Pilot in World War II
An extraordinary memoir of an aviator’s service in the Pacific Theater
“If you’re looking for macho, fighting-man talk, you’ve picked up the wrong book. . . . This is just an honest narration of some of my experiences . . . during my service in the U.S. Army between 1940 and 1945.”<br /> —Raymond C. Kerns
The son of a Kentucky tobacco farmer, Raymond Kerns dropped out of high school after the eighth grade to help on the farm. He enlisted in the Army in 1940 and, after training as a radio operator in the artillery, was assigned to Schofield Barracks (Oahu) where he witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and participated in the ensuing battle.
In the months before Pearl Harbor, Kerns had passed the Army’s flight training admission exam with flying colors. But because he lacked a high school diploma, the Army refused to give him flying lessons. Undaunted, Private Kerns took lessons with a civilian flying school and was actually scheduled for his first solo flight on the afternoon of December 7, 1941.
Notwithstanding his lack of diploma, Kerns graduated from Officer Candidate School and then completed flight training in the L-4 Piper Cub in late 1942. He was assigned to the 33rd Infantry Division in New Guinea and saw extensive combat service there and in the Philippines. In a simple but riveting style, Kerns recalls flying multiple patrols over enemy-held territory in his light unarmored plane, calling and coordinating artillery strikes. While his most effective defense was the remarkable maneuverability and nimbleness of the L-4, he was often required to defend himself with pistols and rifles, hand grenades, and even a machine gun that he welded to his landing gear and once used to blow up an ammunition dump.
Proud of his service and convinced of the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the L-4 pilots in the Pacific and Europe, Kerns earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Silver Star.
Above the Thunder, arguably one of the best memoirs of combat action during World War II, will appeal to military historians as well as general readers.
Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945-1970
The story of an activist’s struggle for social change in the United States
Son of famous sociologists Helen and Robert Lynd, Staughton Lynd was one of the most visible figures of the New Left, a social movement during the 1960s that emphasized participatory democracy. His tireless campaign for social justice prompted his former Spelman College student, Alice Walker, to remember him as “her courageous white teacher” who represented “activism at its most contagious because it was always linked to celebration and joy.”
In this first full-length study of Lynd’s activist career, author Carl Mirra charts the development of the New Left and traces Lynd’s journey into the southern civil rights and anti–Vietnam War movements during the 1960s. He details Lynd’s service as a coordinator of the Mississippi Freedom Schools, his famous and controversial peace mission to Hanoi with Tom Hayden, his turbulent academic career, and the legendary attempt by the Radical Historians’ Caucus within the American Historical Association to elect him AHA president. The book concludes with Lynd’s move in the 1970s to Niles, Ohio, where he assisted in the struggle to keep the steel mills open and where he works as a labor lawyer today.
The Admirable Radical is an important contribution to the study of social history and will interest both social and intellectual historians.
“Some studies have emphasized the burnout of the 1960s generation or the conversion of former radicals to conservative politics; Lynd, however, has remained a steadfast, long-distance runner.” — from the Introduction
“A terrific, fascinating, and rich history of a great historian blended with the story of momentous social movements that changed his life and ours.” —Tom Hayden, lifelong activist and principal author of The Port Huron Statement (1962)
Murder, Blackmail, and Confidence Games in the Gilded Age
The engaging tale of a nineteenth-century black widow
Intrigue, deception, bribery, poison, murder—all play a central role in the story of Minnie Walkup, a young woman from New Orleans who began her life of crime when she was only sixteen years old.
Born in 1869 to Elizabeth and James Wallace, Minnie was a natural beauty and attended convent school where she learned social graces and how to play the piano. After the divorce of her parents, she was raised in multiple boardinghouses owned by her mother, and at one of them, met her first husband, James Reeves Walkup. At sixteen, she married Walkup, a forty-nine-year-old successful businessman and acting mayor of Emporia, Kansas. One month later, Walkup died from arsenic poisoning and his young wife was accused of murdering him. Her trial became one of the most sensational cases in Kansas history and was covered by reporters across the nation.
The Adventuress details Minnie Walkup’s remarkable life and criminal activities. Using newspaper articles, census and probate records, and descendants’ reports, true crime writer Virginia A. McConnell depicts a captivating story that is full of scandal, gossip, theft, and murder and that includes events taking place across the South and Midwest. McConnell reveals a fascinating cast of characters revolving around Minnie Walkup, including a former Louisiana governor and senator, a prominent Ohio banking family, the partner of a famous railway tycoon, and a sleazy district court judge from New Orleans. The Adventuress offers a Gilded Age soap opera that seems too far-fetched to be what it is—true.
A substantial contribution to crime history, The Adventuress is a welcome addition to any true crime reader’s collection.
The inaugural volume in a new historiography series
Historians possess the power to shape the view of history for those who come after them. Their efforts to illuminate significant events of the past often result in new interpretations, which frequently conflict with ideas proposed by earlier historians. Invariably, this divergence of thoughts creates a dissonance between historians about the causes and meanings of prior events. The Kent State University Press’s new Interpreting American History Series aims to help readers learn how truth emerges from the clash of interpretations present in the study of history.
In the series’s first volume, Interpreting American History: The Age of Andrew Jackson, experts on Jacksonian America address the changing views of historians over the past century on a watershed era in U.S. history. A two-term president of the United States, Jackson was a powerful leader who widened constitutional boundaries on the presidency, shaping policy himself instead of deferring to the wishes of Congress.
The essayists in this volume review the most important issues of the period—including the Corrupt Bargain, Nullification Crisis, Indian Removal Act, and Jacksonian democracy, economics, and reform—and discuss their interpretation over the last hundred years by such historians as Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard Hofstadter, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Sean Wilentz, Robert V. Remini, Daniel Feller, and David Walker Howe.
An insightful compilation of essays, Interpreting American History: The Age of Andrew Jackson will acquaint readers with the nineteenth-century world of Andrew Jackson and the ways in which historians have interpreted his life and times.
Cultural politics and American bohemians in pre–Civil War New York
Amid the social and political tensions plaguing the United States in the years leading up to the Civil War, the North experienced a boom of cultural activity. Young transient writers, artists, and musicians settled in northern cities in pursuit of fame and fortune. Calling themselves “bohemians” after the misidentified homeland of the Roma immigrants to France, they established a coffeehouse society to share their thoughts and creative visions. Popularized by the press, bohemians became known for romantic, unorthodox notions of literature and the arts that transformed nineteenth–century artistic culture.
Bohemian influence reached well beyond the arts, however. Building on midcentury abolitionist, socialist, and free labor sentiments, bohemians also flirted with political radicalism and social revolution. Advocating free love, free men, and free labor, bohemian ideas had a profound effect on the debate that raged among the splintered political factions in the North, including the fledgling Republican Party from which President Lincoln was ultimately elected in 1860.
Focusing on the overlapping nature of culture and politics, historian Mark A. Lause delves into the world of antebellum bohemians and the newspapermen who surrounded them, including Ada Clare, Henry Clapp, and Charles Pfaff, and explores the origins and influence of bohemianism in 1850s New York. Against the backdrop of the looming Civil War, The Antebellum Crisis and America’s First Bohemians combines solid research with engaging storytelling to offer readers new insights into the forces that shaped events in the prewar years.
Franco Lobbyists, Roosevelt's Foreign Policy, and the Spanish Civil War
The struggle to define U.S. national identity through a political struggle in Spain
In 1938 the United States was embroiled in a vicious debate between supporters of the two sides of the Spanish Civil War, who sought either to lift or to retain the U.S. arms embargo on Spain. The embargo, which favored Gen. Francisco Franco’s Nationalist regime over the ousted Republican government of the Loyalists, received heavy criticism for enabling a supposedly fascist-backed takeover during a time when the Nazi party in Germany was threatening the annexation of countries across Europe. Supporters of General Franco, however, saw the resistance of the Loyalists as being spurred on by the Soviet Union, which sought to establish a communist government abroad.
Since World War II, American historians have traditionally sided with the Loyalist supporters, validating their arguments that the pro-Nationalists were un-American for backing an unpalatable dictator. In Arguing Americanism, author Michael E. Chapman examines the long-overlooked pro-Nationalist argument. Employing new archival sources, Chapman documents a small yet effective network of lobbyists—including engineer turned writer John Eoghan Kelly, publisher Ellery Sedgwick, homemaker Clare Dawes, muralist Hildreth Meière, and philanthropist Anne Morgan—who fought to promote General Franco’s Nationalist Spain and keep the embargo in place.
Arguing Americanism also goes beyond the embargo debate to examine the underlying issues that gripped 1930s America. Chapman posits that the Spanish embargo argument was never really about Spain but rather about the soul of Americanism, the definition of democracy, and who should do the defining. Pro-Loyalists wanted the pure democracy of the ballot box; pro-Nationalists favored the checks and balances of indirect democracy. By pointing to what was happening in Spain, each side tried to defend its version of Americanism against the foreign forces that threatened it. For Franco supporters, it was the spread of international Marxism, toward which they felt Roosevelt and his New Deal were too sympathetic. The pro-Nationalists intensified an argument that became a precursor to a fundamental change in American national identity—a change that would usher in the Cold War era.
Arguing Americanism will appeal to political scientists, cultural historians, and students of U.S. foreign relations.
Rebirth of a Nineteenth-Century Canal Boat
How a community built a replica canal boat and pioneered a national movementBuilding the St. Helena II tells the story of the 1970 reconstruction of an authentic, operational nineteenth-century canal boat. The narrative unfolds in the small village of Canal Fulton, Ohio, along the surviving one-mile section of the 333-mile Ohio & Erie Canal, which in the 1820s connected the new nation’s western frontier to the thriving coastal states. Canal Fulton was at the leading edge of a national environmental movement to reclaim, restore, and reuse historic U.S. canals for education and recreation.
Author Carroll Gantz describes how canals penetrated the wilderness and became the nation’s first interstate transportation system—transforming the Northeast and Midwest from an agrarian to an industrial society—and how the construction of the 4,700 mile network of man-made waterways attracted settlers inland. In Ohio, the canals transformed the state from a wild, western territory into a productive and prosperous business region. Canals were soon replaced by railroads, however, and by 1900 they had mostly been abandoned, built over, or destroyed by nature.
Gantz relates how the rest of Ohio and then the country joined the environmental and historical preservation movement, inspired by the innovative actions of Canal Fulton, to preserve its canal and build the country’s first modern replica of an 1825 canal boat. Dozens of replica canal boats were built, and over a thousand miles of land was reclaimed for the education and recreation of millions of Americans, from Massachusetts to Illinois. As a result, part of the national heritage once on the verge of being lost was instead reborn.
Complemented by scores of contemporary photographs, the historical origin of St. Helena II as well as her design, construction, launch, and use over her 18 years of operation is discussed in detail. Her final restoration as a permanent exhibit is also described, with full-color illustrations. St. Helena II’s tradition survives today in her worthy replacement, St. Helena III.
Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, sailors, and those interested in restoration will welcome this addition to canal literature.
“This work fills in an important piece that has been missing in the body of works on canal history—that is, information on the boats themselves, specifically their design and construction, and documentation of the design and construction of the first authentic, operating canal boat replica. The appeal is lasting in that this is a piece of canal history that adds to our knowledge of both the historic canal era and the more contemporary canal revival, for all time.”—Peg Bobel, coauthor of Canal Fever: The Ohio and Erie Canal from Canalway to Waterway (The Kent State University Press, 2009)
The Ohio & Erie Canal, from Waterway to Canalway
Original essays on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal
Combining original essays based on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal, Canal Fever showcases the research and writing of the best and most knowledgeable canal historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts. Each contributor brings his or her expertise to tell the canal’s story in three parts: the canal era—the creation of the canal and its importance to Ohio’s early growth; the canal’s decline—the decades when the canal was merely a ditch and path in backyards all over northeast Ohio; and finally the rediscovery of this old transportation system and its transformation into a popular recreational resource, the Ohio & Erie Canalway.
Included are many voices from the past, such as canalers, travelers, and immigrants, stories of canal use through various periods, and current interviews with many individuals involved in the recent revitalization of the canal. Accompanying the essays are a varied and interesting selection of photographs of sites, events, and people, as well as original maps and drawings by artist Chuck Ayers.
Canal Fever takes a broad approach to the canal and what it has meant to Ohio from its original function in the state’s growth its present-day function in revitalizing our region. Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, and those interested in urban revitalization will appreciate its extensive use of primary source materials and will welcome this comprehensive collection.
Spoken Sources in Melville's Early Works
An examination of Melville’s “borrowing”
“Mary Bercaw Edwards has researched the sources very thoroughly, going well beyond the previously published source studies. The result is a sound historical account of the ‘talk’ Melville encountered in the 1840s, and in emphasizing the oral sources of Melville’s discourses, Edwards provides an original contribution to source studies of Melville. She presents her research interestingly as well, in clear, readable prose. Her scholarship will certainly be of interest to Melville scholars, but it will also engage the attention of anyone interested in American culture and popular culture of the period.”—John Samson, associate professor of English, Texas Tech University
At the age of twenty-one, Herman Melville signed on the whaleship Acushnet as a common seaman and sailed from Massachusetts to the South Pacific. Upon reaching Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands, he deserted and spent a month ashore on this reputed “cannibal island.” He departed as crew of another whaleship but was put ashore in the heavily missionized Tahitian islands after participating in a bloodless mutiny. Eventually making his way to Hawaii, he joined the crew of the American frigate United States and finally reached Boston in October 1844 after four years at sea.
By the time he sat down to write his first book, Melville had been recounting tales of these experiences orally for four years. The spoken elements of the overlapping discourses involving sailors, cannibals, and missionaries are essential to his first six books. Mary K. Bercaw Edwards investigates the interplay between spoken sources and written narratives. She closely examines how Melville altered original stories, and she questions his truthfulness about his experiences. Bercaw Edwards also explores the synergistic blend of the oral and written worlds of seafaring and the South Pacific and provides an analysis of Melville’s development as a writer. It is a study of the aesthetic, ethical, linguistic, and cultural implications of Melville’s borrowing.
Cannibal Old Me is an excellent contribution to Melville scholarship, challenging long-held assumptions regarding his early works. Scholars as well as students will welcome it as an indispensable addition to the study of nineteenth-century literature and maritime history.