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Cultures and Conquests in the Early American Southeast
From the early 1500s to the mid-1700s, the American Southeast was the scene of continuous tumult as European powers vied for dominance in the region while waging war on Native American communities. Yet even before Hernando de Soto landed his expeditionary force on the Gulf shores of Florida, Native Americans had created their own “cultures of violence”: sets of ideas about when it was appropriate to use violence and what sorts of violence were appropriate to a given situation. In New Worlds of Violence, Matthew Jennings offers a persuasive new framework for understanding the European–Native American contact period and the conflicts among indigenous peoples that preceded it. This pioneering approach posits that every group present in the Southeast had its own ideas about the use of violence and that these ideas changed over time as they collided with one another. The book starts with the Mississippian era and continues through the successive Spanish and English invasions of the Native South. Jennings argues that the English conquered the Southeast because they were able to force everyone else to adapt to their culture of violence, which, of course, changed over time as well. By 1740, a peculiarly Anglo-American culture of violence was in place that would profoundly influence the expansion of England’s colonies and the eventual southern United States. While Native and African violence were present in this world, they moved in circles defined by the English. New Worlds of Violence concludes by pointing out that long-lasting violence bears long-lasting consequences. An important contribution to the growing body of work on the early Southeast, this book will significantly broaden readers’ understanding of America’s violent past.
In December 1846, John Jacob Oswandel—or Jake as he was often called—enlisted in the Monroe Guards, which later became Company C of the First Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment. Thus began a twenty-month journey that led Oswandel from rural Pennsylvania through the American South, onward to the siege of Veracruz, and finally deep into the heart of Mexico. Waging war with Mexico ultimately realized President James K. Polk’s long-term goal of westward expansion all the way to the Pacific Ocean. For General Winfield Scott, the victorious Mexico City campaign would prove his crowning achievement in a fifty-three-year military career, but for Oswandel the “grand adventure of our lives” was about patriotism and honor in a war that turned this twenty-something bowsman into a soldier. Notes of the Mexican War, 1846–1848, is the quintessential primary source on the Mexican War. From Oswandel’s time of enlistment in Pennsylvania to his discharge in July of 1848, he kept a daily record of events, often with the perception and intuition worthy of a highly ranked officer. In addition to Oswandel’s engaging narrative, Timothy D. Johnson and Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr. provide an introduction that places Oswandel’s memoir within present-day scholarship. They illuminate the mindset of Oswandel and his comrades, who viewed the war with Mexico in terms of Manifest Destiny and they give insight into Oswandel’s historically common belief in Anglo-Saxon superiority—views that would bring about far worse consequences at the outbreak of the American Civil War a dozen years later. As historians continue to highlight the controversial actions of the Polk administration and the expansionist impulse that led to the conflict, Notes of the Mexican War, 1846–1848, opens a window into the past when typical young men rallied to a cause they believed was just and ordained. Oswandel provides an eyewitness account of an important chapter in America’s history.
Narratives of White Southern Identity, 1890–1920
Southerners have a reputation as storytellers, as a people fond of telling about family, community, and the southern way of life. A compelling book about some of those stories and their consequences, One Homogeneous People examines the forging and the embracing of southern “pan-whiteness” as an ideal during the volatile years surrounding the turn of the twentieth century.
Trent Watts argues that despite real and signi?cant divisions within the South along lines of religion, class, and ethnicity, white southerners—especially in moments of perceived danger—asserted that they were one people bound by a shared history, a love of family, home, and community, and an uncompromising belief in white supremacy. Watts explores how these southerners explained their region and its people to themselves and other Americans through narratives found in a variety of forms and contexts: political oratory, fiction, historiography, journalism, correspondence, literary criticism, and the built environment.
Watts examines the assertions of an ordered, homogeneous white South (and the threats to it) in the unsettling years following the end of Reconstruction through the early 1900s. In three extended essays on related themes of race and power, the book demonstrates the remarkable similarity of discourses of pan-whiteness across formal and generic lines. In an insightful concluding essay that focuses on an important but largely unexamined institution, Mississippi’s Neshoba County Fair, Watts shows how narratives of pan-white identity initiated in the late nineteenth century have persisted to the present day.
Written in a lively style, <i>One Homogeneous People</i> is a valuable addition to the scholarship on southern culture and post-Reconstruction southern history.
Trent Watts is the editor of White Masculinity in the Recent South. His work has appeared in <i>Southern Cultures</i> and T<i>he New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture</i>. He is assistant professor of American studies at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
An African American Writer's (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was perhaps the most prolific black female writer of her time. Between 1900 and 1904, writing mainly for Colored American Magazine, she published four novels, at least seven short stories, and numerous articles that often addressed the injustices and challenges facing African Americans in post–Civil War America. In Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream, Alisha Knight provides the first full-length critical analysis of Hopkins’s work. Scholars have frequently situated Hopkins within the domestic, sentimental tradition of nineteenth-century women's writing, with some critics observing that aspects of her writing, particularly its emphasis on the self-made man, seem out of place within the domestic tradition. Knight argues that Hopkins used this often-dismissed theme to critique American society's ingrained racism and sexism. In her “Famous Men” and “Famous Women” series for Colored American Magazine, she constructed her own version of the success narrative by offering models of African American self-made men and women. Meanwhile, in her fiction, she depicted heroes who fail to achieve success or must leave the United States to do so. Hopkins risked and eventually lost her position at Colored American Magazine by challenging black male leaders, liberal white philanthropists, and white racists—and by conceiving a revolutionary treatment of the American Dream that placed her far ahead of her time. Hopkins is finally getting her due, and this clear-eyed analysis of her work will be a revelation to literary scholars, historians of African American history, and students of women’s studies.
A Nomadic Utopia
Since 1972 the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a loosely organized and anarchistic nomadic community, has been holding large gatherings in remote forests to pray for world peace and create a model of a functioning utopian society. Michael I. Niman’s People of the Rainbow, originally published in 1997, was the first comprehensive study of this countercultural group and its eclectic philosophy of environmentalism, feminism, peace activism, group sharing, libertarianism, and consensus government. It is a book yet to be superseded. This second edition of Niman’s compelling and insightful work brings the Rainbow story up to date with a new introduction and two extensive new epilogues. While the big annual Rainbow “Gatherings” have drawn fewer numbers in recent years, Niman notes, the Rainbow ethos has in many ways migrated to the mainstream, as Rainbow notions about alternative medicine and environmental sustainability, for example, have gathered wider acceptance and influenced the national dialogue. Meanwhile, Rainbow movements in other regions, from Eastern Europe and the Middle East to Asia and Australia, are thriving. In addition to addressing changes within the Rainbow Family and its complex relationship to “Babylon” (what Rainbows call mainstream culture), the book’s new material explores the growing harassment Rainbows now face from U.S. law enforcement agencies—especially those associated with the National Forest Service. As Niman contends, this particular saga of a U.S. bureaucracy at war with its own citizens is a subplot in the larger—and disturbing—story of how the relationship between Americans and their government has changed during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In its nuanced portrait of an intriguing subculture, its successes, and its limitations, People of the Rainbow remains a significant contribution to the study of utopian communities in the United States and their ongoing legacy.
“This book very conclusively debunks the over two-hundred-year-old conventional wisdom that Wheatley owes her poetic sensibilities to Alexander Pope. . . . It will help rejuvenate the study of Wheatley and will be an exciting contribution to scholarly discourse on Wheatley’s poetry.” —Cedrick May, author of Evangelism and Resistance in the Black Atlantic, 1760–1835
Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book. Born in Gambia in 1753, she came to America aboard a slave ship, the Phillis. From an early age, Wheatley exhibited a profound gift for verse, publishing her first poem in 1767. Her tribute to a famed pastor, “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield,” followed in 1770, catapulting her into the international spotlight, and publication of her 1773 Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral in London created her an international star.
Despite the attention she received at the time, history has not been kind to Wheatley. Her work has long been neglected or denigrated by literary critics and historians. John C. Shields, a scholar of early American literature, has tried to help change this perception, and Wheatley has begun to take her place among the elite of American writers.
In Phillis Wheatley and the Romantic Age, Shields contends that Wheatley was not only a brilliant writer but one whose work made a significant impression on renowned Europeans of the Romantic age, such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who borrowed liberally from her works, particularly in his famous distinction between fancy and imagination. Shields shows how certain Wheatley texts, particularly her “Long Poem,” consisting of “On Recollection,” “Thoughts on the Works of Providence,” and “On Imagination,” helped shape the face of Romanticism in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Phillis Wheatley and the Romantic Age helps demolish the long-held notion that literary culture flowed in only one direction: from Europe to the Americas. Thanks to Wheatley’s influence, Shields argues, the New World was influencing European literary masters far sooner than has been generally understood.
John C. Shields is the editor of The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley and the author of The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self (named by Choice as an Outstanding Academic Book and awarded honorable mention in competition for the American Comparative Literature Association’s HARRY LEVIN PRIZE) and of Phillis Wheatley’s Poetics of Liberation. He is Distinguished Professor of English and director of the Center for Classicism in American Culture at Illinois State University.
Well known for the important role he played in the American Restoration Movement, Alexander Campbell was one of the most respected and influential religious figures of 19th-century America. Although Campbell’s legacy as a religious leader and theologian has been widely acknowledged and documented, his contributions as a philosopher of religion have been largely neglected. The Philosophy of Religion of Alexander Campbell reintroduces readers to Campbell as a philosopher of religion and explores the philosophical basis for the views underlying his religious movement. It begins with a highly readable discussion of Campbell’s role in antebellum American religion and proceeds to an exploration of his philosophical influences. J. Caleb Clanton then reconstructs, explains, and evaluates Campbell’s philosophy of religion. He critically examines Campbell’s unique, revealed-idea argument for the existence of God—that is, if God did not exist, we could not form the distinct idea of God. Clanton goes on to explore Campbell’s defense of miracles, including the resurrection of Christ, and his responses to the problem of evil and the problem of divine hiddenness. The final and most speculative chapter collects and synthesizes from scattered writings Campbell’s view on morality and religion— namely that there is no morality without God—which has proven difficult to defend on philosophical grounds. With this book, the author makes a unique and important contribution to the literature of the Stone-Campbell movement. Clanton presents Campbell’s views strictly in philosophical terms and evaluates them from a philosophical perspective without regard to religious apologetics. In doing so, he illuminates previously unexplored dimensions of Campbell and his work, both historically and theologically, and clearly validates Campbell’s inclusion in contemporary discussions of the philosophy of religion.
Race, Politics, and Religious Identity in Historical Perspective
This volume is the first comprehensive overview of North Carolina Presbyterians to appear in more than a hundred years. Drawing on congregational and administrative histories, personal memoirs, and recent scholarship—while paying close attention to the relevant social, political, and religious contexts of the state and region—Walter Conser and Robert Cain go beyond older approaches to denominational history by focusing on the identity and meaning of the Presbyterian experience in the Old North State from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries.
Conser and Cain explore issues as diverse as institutional development and worship experience; the patterns and influence of race, ethnicity, and gender; and involvement in education and social justice campaigns. In part 1 of the book, “Beginnings,” they trace the entrance of Presbyterians—who were legally considered dissenters throughout the colonial period—into the eastern, central, and western sections of the state. The authors show how the Piedmont became the nexus of Presbyterian organizational development and examine the ways in which political movements, including campaigns for American independence, deeply engaged Presbyterians, as did the incandescence of revivalism and agitation for reform, which extended into the antebellum period.
The book’s second section, “Conflict, Renewal, and Reunion,” investigates the denominational tensions provoked by the slavery debate and the havoc of the Civil War, the soul searching that accompanied Confederate defeat, and the rebuilding efforts that came during the New South era. Such important factors as the changing roles of women in the church and the decline of Jim Crow helped pave the way for the eventual reunion of the northern and southern branches of mainline Presbyterianism. By the arrival of the new millennium, Presbyterians in North Carolina were prepared to meet future challenges with renewed confidence.
A model for modern denominational history, this book is an astute and sensitive portrayal of a prominent Protestant denomination in a southern context.
Walter H. Conser Jr. is professor of religion and professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. His books include A Coat of Many Colors: Religion and Society along the Cape Fear River of North Carolina and God and the Natural World: Religion and Science in the Natural World.
Before his retirement after thirty-two years of service, Robert J. Cain was head of the Colonial Records Branch at the North Carolina State Archives. He is the editor of The Colonial Records of North Carolina, second series.
Black Feminist Publics in the Era of Reform
Press, Platform, Pulpit examines how early black feminism goes public by sheding new light on some of the major figures of early black feminism as well as bringing forward some lesser-known individuals who helped shape various reform movements. With a perspective unlike many other studies of black feminism, Teresa Zackodnik considers these activists as central, rather than marginal, to the politics of their day, and argues that black feminism reached critical mass well before the club movement’s national federation at the turn into the twentieth century . Throughout, she shifts the way in which major figures of early black feminism have been understood.
The first three chapters trace the varied speaking styles and appeals of black women in the church, abolition, and women’s rights, highlighting audience and location as mediating factors in the public address and politics of figures such as Jarena Lee, Zilpha Elaw, Amanda Berry Smith, Ellen Craft, Sarah Parker Remond and Sojourner Truth. The next chapter focuses on Ida B. Wells’s anti-lynching tours as working within “New Abolition” and influenced by black feminists before her. The final chapter examines feminist black nationalism as it developed in the periodical press by considering Maria Stewart’s social and feminist gospel; Mary Shadd Cary’s linking of abolition, emigration, and woman suffrage; and late-nineteenth-century black feminist journalism addressing black women’s migration and labor. Early black feminists working in reforms such as abolition and women’s rights opened new public arenas, such as the press, to the voices of black women. The book concludes by focusing on the 1891 National Council of Women, Frances Harper, and Anna Julia Cooper, which together mark a generational shift in black feminism, and by exploring the possibilities of taking black feminism public through forging coalitions among women of color.
Press, Platform, Pulpit goes far in deepening our understanding of early black feminism, its position in reform, and the varied publics it created for its politics. It not only moves historically from black feminist work in the church early in the nineteenth century to black feminism in the press at its close, but also explores the connections between black feminist politics across the century and specific reforms.
Protest and Print Culture in the A.M.E. Church
Race Patriotism: Protest and Print Culture in the A.M.E. Church examines important nineteenth-century social issues through the lens of the AME Church and its publications. This book explores the ways in which leaders and laity constructed historical narratives around varied locations to sway public opinion of the day. Drawing on the official church newspaper, the Christian Recorder, and other denominational and rare major primary sources, Bailey goes beyond previously published works that focus solely on the founding era of the tradition or the eastern seaboard or post-bellum South to produce a work than breaks new historiographical ground by spanning the entirety of the nineteenth century and exploring new geographical terrain such as the American West.
Through careful analysis of AME print culture, Bailey demonstrates that far from focusing solely on the “politics of uplift” and seeking to instill bourgeois social values in black society as other studies have suggested, black authors, intellectuals, and editors used institutional histories and other writings for activist purposes and reframed protest in new ways in the postbellum period.
Adding significantly to the literature on the history of the book and reading in the nineteenth century, Bailey examines AME print culture as a key to understanding African American social reform recovering the voices of black religious leaders and writers to provide a more comprehensive and nuanced portrayal of the central debates and issues facing African Americans in the nineteenth century such as migration westward, selecting the appropriate referent for the race, Social Darwinism, and the viability of emigration to Africa. Scholars and students of religious studies, African American studies, American studies, history, and journalism will welcome this pioneering new study.
Julius H. Bailey is the author of Around the Family Altar: Domesticity in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1865–1900. He is an associate professor in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.