The March 2020 issue of The Journal of American History is now available online for subscribers.
Included are articles by Emma Teitelman, Rüdiger Graf, Andrew Gutkowski, and Adam Goodman. As part of Sex, Suffrage, Solidarities: Centennial Reappraisals, the JAH Women’s History Index can be found in this issue. We are also excited to feature a robust Textbooks and Teaching Section, as well as a number of book reviews and digital history reviews. The digital history projects reviewed in this issue are Age of Revolutions; History Unfolded: U.S. Newspapers and the Holocaust; and Undoing Time.
Preview of Articles
Emma Teitelman examines the politics of property during the Reconstruction era in the United States. She argues that the Civil War precipitated a transregional wave of land privatization in the South and the West, which oriented the unique productive capacities of the lands toward the maximization of profits. Exploring these transformations through one prominent firm, Phelps, Dodge & Co., she describes the many forms of land dispossession that made possible the industrial extraction of minerals and lumber in the Gilded Age. In doing so this article sheds light on intersections of political consolidation and capitalist development at a critical moment of national definition.
Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (1906) is often cited as an important factor in the tightening of U.S. food control in the Progressive Era. During the scandal and political debates, however, many other actors also claimed to provide knowledge about the Chicago slaughterhouses. The truth about the meat-packing houses was revealed literarily and journalistically, ascertained with scientific authority, and substantiated by or questioned using legal arguments. Allegations were based on personal observation, scientific experts, or the judgment of trustworthy persons. Rüdiger Graf examines how these truth claims were translated between literature, science, politics, and the media, thereby shedding new light on the relationship between knowledge and politics in the Progressive Era and beyond.
Andrew Gutkowski explores the history of residential segregation, civil rights struggle, deindustrialization, and solid waste management in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His article demonstrates how these processes contributed to a disproportionate concentration of environmental hazards in the predominantly black neighborhood of Arkwright. The essay reveals how contemporary patterns of environmental racism often emerge from a deeper history of racial injustice. Drawing from oral interviews, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund archive, and census records, Gutkowski uses GIS (geographic information system) story maps to illustrate how the geography of waste and pollution in Spartanburg changed across the twentieth century, arguing that white-controlled government institutions—at both the state and local level—were pivotal in creating the environmental crisis in Arkwright.
In the mid-1950s, U.S. immigration officials deported nearly fifty thousand people across the Gulf of Mexico and deep into the Mexican interior. Scholars know little about the history of these boatlifts and even less about the U.S. government contracting private Mexican companies to carry them out. Although immigration historians generally have ignored how authorities have forcibly moved people, examining the physical process of expulsion offers important insights into the lives of migrants and the making of immigration policy. Adam Goodman offers a fine-grained history of the business of deportation, revealing the bureaucratic, capitalist, and racist motives that propel expulsion. It also uncovers an uncomfortable truth: for many noncitizens, enduring state-sanctioned violence has long been a central element of the so-called immigrant experience.
Looking for older issues of The Journal of American History? See previews of past issues and articles.