- Editors’ Note
This issue of the Journal of the Civil War Era is the first in which we appear as coeditors. We enter this job with deep respect for what the journal has accomplished and enormous excitement for what we might help it do over the next five years. Our goals remain those that our friend and mentor Bill Blair articulated in his editor’s note for the founding issue. The new journal would bring, he wrote, “fresh perspective to the sectional crisis, war, Reconstruction, and memory of the conflict, while tying the struggles that defined the period to the broader course of American history and to a wider world. In this way, we hope to attract scholars across the many subfields that animate nineteenth-century history, providing a place where they can engage with each other.”1 This remains a powerful statement of the journal’s ambitions. It aims to be fresh, expansive, deeply engaged in historiography, and committed to advancing new perspectives, all at once. Indeed, the journal’s articles and essays vary in method, approach, and argument. The journal has been a site where scholars from many subfields engage to shape our understanding of the Civil War era through innovative research articles, widely read historiographical essays, probing book reviews, and eclectic posts on Muster.
As we build on these strengths, we intend to use our term to press farther. We aim to incorporate the history and historiography of slavery more fully into the journal. We want the journal’s offerings to reflect the diversity of scholars working on the mid-nineteenth century United States and the multiplicity of topics they are investigating. We recognize that broadening the journal’s scope requires outreach and openness, and we intend to reach out every way we know how. We hope the journal will stand as evidence of how much is gained when we approach the past from a wide angle, determined to consider the full range of social, economic, political, cultural, and global forces that shaped the period and its people.
We build on the extraordinary work of Bill Blair, the founding editor, and of the many others who have kept the journal vibrant and flourishing. While our names are on this issue’s masthead, the issue represents the extraordinary dedication of a group of interim editors who worked hard to sustain the journal in a period of transition, develop coherent systems for managing submissions and correspondence, and keep the journal [End Page 295] thriving while the Richards Center conducted the search for permanent editors.
As this issue demonstrates, those interim editors—Rachel Shelden, Stacey Smith, and Luke Harlow—did far more than keep the journal afloat; they kept it a model of fresh, provocative, and deeply researched historical work, work of the very best kind and work that everyone associated with the journal and the field can be proud of. The journal and the field owe a great deal to the three of them and the journal staff, especially Managing Editor Matthew Isham and Editorial Assistant Megan Hildebrand. Careful readers will note other changes to the masthead, as well, and we look forward to celebrating those new additions in our editors’ note in the December issue.
This issue includes three fine research articles that in different ways speak to the field’s creativity across the antebellum, wartime, and Reconstruction periods. Bennett Parten’s “‘Blow Ye Trumpet, Blow’: The Idea of Jubilee in Slavery and Freedom” examines the evolution of the idea of Jubilee in antislavery thought, as abolitionists turned to Jubilee to explain why and how society might change. Angela Zombek’s “The Power of the Press: Defining Disloyalty at Old Capitol Prison” analyzes the role of the popular press in policing disloyalty and shaping national discourses of loyalty and treason during the war. Catherine Jones’s “The Trials of Mary Booth and the Post–Civil War Incarceration of African American Children” studies how the postbellum court system in Virginia constructed African American children, especially girls, as criminal subjects and denied them presumptions of immaturity that helped shield white children from the full force of the law.
As former review essay editors, we...