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What’s in the March Issue of the Journal of American History?

The March 2019 issue of The Journal of American History is now available online for subscribers.

The cover of the March issue of The Journal of American History.

Included are articles by Jared Farmer, John Craig Hammond, Anne Gray Fischer, Vanessa Burrows, and Barbara Berney. “Interchange: Corruption Has a History” can also be found in this issue. We are also excited to feature a robust teaching and textbooks section, book reviews, and digital history reviews. The digital history projects reviewed in this issue are African American Civil War Soldiers; Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery; and Remembering World War I.

Preview of Articles

Recent debates about U.S. memorial landscapes have focused on museums, statuary, and place-names. Jared Farmer considers America’s historic trees—memory sites often overlooked because they seem natural. Most of them were historicized in the long nineteenth century, the age of arbonationalism. The historic trees of the United States bore witness to the violence of building a white settler nation. Native Americans and African Americans both contested and created memories with trees. Using a simplified taxonomy, Farmer considers the cross fertilization of four types of historic trees, including the liberty tree and the lynching tree. It is unbearably fitting that the Republic’s original revolutionary landmark, the Liberty Tree in Boston, sported a noose, and inspired first use of the metaphor “strange fruit.”

In searching for a less proslavery Virginian counterpart to Thomas Jefferson, historians have constructed a James Monroe that is safe for historians: moderate and moderately antislavery, a nationalist committed to putting the Union ahead of state and section, party, and self. John Craig Hammond argues that Monroe’s actions during the Missouri crisis demonstrate that he was neither a unionist nor a disunionist, neither a sectionalist nor a nationalist. Rather, like for so many other southern politicians, union and nation were subordinate to Monroe’s larger commitment to protecting and promoting the interests of the South’s planter class.

Modern urban law enforcement is characterized by an enduring paradox: the under protection and overpolicing of black neighborhoods. Throughout the 1960s, black anger at discriminatory policing was increasingly channeled through communal violence, such as the 1965 Watts Riot in Los Angeles. Anne Gray Fischer utilizes previously unused police records to expose a key trigger of the Watts Riot: sexual policing. As this essay shows, liberal legal reforms during a period of black urban migration and white suburbanization created the conditions for a widening racial gap in the policing of sexually profiled white and black women—which infuriated black residents. This sexual criminalization of black women inaugurated a shift toward expanded police power, but these developments did not occur without a fight.

Before the implementation of Medicare in 1966, black patients, doctors, and nurses throughout the United States were at the mercy of the Jim Crow hospital system. The Medicare program offered a golden opportunity to push hospitals to voluntarily desegregate. Working closely with the medical civil rights movement, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration made sure that before any hospital could receive Medicare funds it would need to demonstrate civil rights compliance. Vanessa Burrows and Barbara Berney show that this revolutionary victory challenges stereotypes of civil rights activism, illuminates our understanding of the federal government’s role in the civil rights movement, and raises questions about the entangled relationship between health and race.

Looking for older issues of The Journal of American History? See previews of past issues and articles. Looking for other great publications? Explore The American Historian.