- Editor’s Page
An Extended Journal
Volume 35 marks a series of transitions for the Journal. Editors David Waldstreicher and Jonathan Wells have left Temple University and the editorship of the JER to pursue new opportunities at CUNY Grad School and the University of Michigan, respectively. At the same time, Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg have relinquished their roles as co-editors of Reviews, the better to take advantage of sabbaticals, fellowships, and unencumbered writing time. The JER offices have moved from Temple University to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Longtime Managing Editor Kate Tyler Wall continues to hold down the fort and herd the cats in the City of Brotherly Love, but the rest of the editorial staff is now spread out over a republic even more extended than James Madison could have imagined. Sean Harvey and Lucia McMahon, hailing from points along the New Jersey Turnpike, have taken the reins of the Reviews section. From Richmond, Virginia, Carolyn Eastman is launching a new, annual feature to survey the state of the field(s). (More on that in issues to come.) And the editorship has moved to southern plains and the University of Oklahoma. None of these changes would have been possible before the era of email and paperless scholarly production. And none would have been possible without the extraordinary guidance and support extended by David, Jon, Andy, and Nancy and the very generous welcome extended to Kate and the JER offices by Page Talbott, President of the HSP.
Scholarship on the early republic seems to get better every year, and a glance at this year’s book and article prize-winners demonstrate that 2014 was no exception. The 2014 SHEAR Book Prize was awarded to Walter Johnson for River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the [End Page 109] Cotton Kingdom, an ambitious and powerfully argued book that establishes the Mississippi Valley as the core of nineteenth-century global capitalism. In the words of the Prize Committee, Johnson explains how the “free market” created by Valley slaveholders was “predicated on the regeneration of white manhood through labor-stealing, human-stealing, and land-stealing. Johnson’s gripping analysis and forceful narrative fundamentally reshapes how we understand the history of slavery and capitalism.”
The James H. Broussard First Book prize was awarded jointly to W. Caleb McDaniel and Jessica M. Lepler. The Prize Committee applauded McDaniel’s The Problem of Democracy in an Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform, for offering a new picture of Garrison and his followers. “In McDaniel’s work,” they wrote, “the Garrison and his followers emerge for the first time as thinkers, engaging with the ideas of British and Continental liberals such as Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill, and wrestling with intellectual problems that went beyond the problem of slavery itself—the breadth of the suffrage, the role of public opinion in a democracy, and the temptations posed by nationalism.” Lepler’s The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis offers readers an elaborate narrative that spans the world, ricocheting from London to Louisiana and beyond. “In tracing the pathways of panic,” the Prize Committee wrote, Lepler “captures how the urgent quest to make sense of the events of 1837 led participants to fashion coherent narratives out of the shattered remains of their economic lives—narratives that shape how we understand the financial crises of our own era.”
The Ralph D. Gray Prize for the best article published in the JER was awarded to David Head’s “Slave Smuggling by Foreign Privateers: Geopolitical Inﬂuences on the Illegal Slave Trade.” This deeply researched and carefully argued article situates our understanding of the illegal slave trade in an explicitly international context. The Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812, and the Spanish American Revolutions, Head argues, created ideal conditions for privateers to capture slave ships; the chaos of war made law enforcement difficult at best.
SHEAR Distinguished Service Award
Under the guidance of President John L. Larson, SHEAR launched an award recognizing “generous and enduring service in behalf of the goals [End Page 110] and programs of the Society for Historians of the...