- Editor’s Note
Wars and revolutions contain repercussions beyond victory and defeat, gains and loss. They also can jolt societies out of patterns of thinking, causing reassessment of values, legal systems, and identity. Such events also can cause people and societies to reconsider their places in the world. This phenomenon revealed itself starkly in the United States during the Civil War era, which opened northerners and southerners alike to new ways of thinking about the law, the state, and citizenship. The articles in this issue echo some of these themes.
The first two offerings show how southerners grappled with new forms of identity and citizenship. Felicity Turner leads off with an analysis of infanticide prosecutions in the nineteenth-century U.S. South. The war had eliminated distinctions in the law between master and slave, causing white people to seek new ways to signify difference. The legal system provided venues in which to construct racial identities, in this case equating the murderous mother to black women and the virtuous one to white women. In the second article, Paul Quigley analyzes how foreign-born men who tried to stay out of the army opened the boundaries of citizenship in the Confederacy. How should the Confederate states consider people who had moved to the country but did not formally naturalize? The war, according to Quigley, exposed a “darker side of citizenship.”
Two other authors explore the United States in a broader context. Jay Sexton reports on the world travels of William Henry Seward after the war, which was captured in a posthumous travel account that became important in the transnational history of the Civil War. Seward’s understanding of “globalization” contained a blend of cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Rounding out the issue, Patrick J. Kelly revisits the European revolutions of 1848 to reflect on how revolutions shaped world history. Violent conflict was commonplace in the building of liberal nation-states. But despite the recent trend toward considering the war as part of larger processes, there remains room for studies of how America’s civil war sent its own shock waves around the world. [End Page 349]