March 2024 Issue of the JAH Now Available

The March 2023 issue of the Journal of American History is now available at Oxford Academic Online. This issue features articles by Joshua A. McGonagle Althoff (University of Minnesota), Cindy Hahamovitch (University of Georgia), Britain Hopkins (Wellesley College), and Karin Zipf (East Carolina University), as well as a Textbooks and Teaching section, and book and digital history reviews.

Article Previews

The foundational 1823 Supreme Court case Johnson v. McIntosh drew from a 1775 negotiation between land speculators and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw people) to subjugate Indigenous sovereignty to the plenary powers of Congress. This negotiation is usually framed as a “purchase,” but when the discussion is read alongside a history of Peeyankihšia community building, it becomes clear that Peeyankihšia people intended to negotiate the right to live within, rather than own, their homelands. By moving away from the idea of a “purchase,” Joshua A. McGonagle Althoff reveals how Peeyankihšiaki were preparing for prosperity, not declension, in the late eighteenth century.

Walter R. Clark, the sheriff of Broward County, Florida, for nearly two decades in the twentieth century, used his office to enforce white supremacy, procure labor for local businesses, bolster the illegal gambling industry, and line his own pockets. Like other sheriffs, he was also central to the workings of the state at the local level: policing the county, administering the courthouse, summoning juries, running the county jail, and more. Considering Clark in a long historical context that extends from the Jacksonian Era to the present, Cindy Hahamovitch makes the case for the importance of sheriffs and local government in American life.

Through a consideration of key legislation and actors, Britain Hopkins contributes to understandings of the origins of the student loan industry and student loan indebtedness in the United States. The article highlights how private organizations and actors—such as the American Bankers Association and the Volker Fund—worked with the Johnson and Nixon administrations to establish student loans as a primary means of funding higher education. These private-federal partnerships increasingly sought to commodify student loans on financial markets, thereby tethering access to higher education to previously excluded groups to market incorporation. The article thereby identifies the origins of student loan indebtedness as a legacy of the Johnson administration’s Great Society agenda.

American antislavery law long denied the problem of sexual assault in slavery. Using a gendered lens, Karin Zipf extends the historiography of American slavery in an analysis of late twentieth-century farm worker slavery cases. Zipf examines the testimonies of male and female farm workers from a pivotal federal district court case to expose the masculinist narrative in federal antislavery law. Zipf demonstrates the law’s gendered limitations in its masculinist meanings of migrant slavery violence, insensitivity to ­women’s fieldwork experiences, and subliminal endorsement of racist stereotypes of Black women. The omission of the issue of sexual violence in federal slavery laws propelled feminists to reinterpret the Thirteenth Amendment, resulting in passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000.