New Article: The Angel of Nullification in JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC

As we creep toward my book’s publication in December (I hope they start displaying the cover and description soon!), a couple articles drawn from its material are now appearing. One was published in Early American Studies earlier this year that relates to the book’s first chapter (see a summary here), and now an article in Journal of the Early Republic just came out that comes from the last chapter. I sincerely believe it’s my strongest work yet published. (Though that’s not a high standard!) At the least, it’s the one I’m most proud to unleash to the world.

I’m actually really excited about this article. Titled “The Angel of Nullification: Imagining Disunion in an Era Before Secession,” it’s in the Fall issue of JER. The issue hasn’t appeared online yet (unless your library has an EBSCO subscription, where it is available), but there’s twitter evidence that the hard copy is starting to arrive in mailboxes:

I hope it will be on JSTOR and Project Muse soon.

This article addresses a serious subject—the Nullification crisis and the cultural bonds between the North and South in the early 1830s—through a fun mechanism: a novel that includes a pact with a demon, intergalactic travel, carnivorous demons, and caricatured New Englanders. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will.

In short, I use this text to talk about how South Carolinians during the 1830s chipped away at the American facade of national unity as they began imagining forms of and justification for sectional division. As the article’s introduction concludes: “Johnson’s novel, then, is an apt lens through which to view the seeds of regional strife, Southern nationalist discourse, and the vagaries of American cultural politics in the decades leading up to sectional crisis.”

Unlike any other article I’ve published, I wrote “The Angel of Nullification” in a way that’s not only relevant to fellow historians, but also to undergraduate students. It uses an entertaining microhistory to tell the larger narrative of federalism, sectional conflicts, and nullification in Jacksonian America. Readers will get an intro to debates over slavery and cotton culture, political economy, and regional distrust, all while being shepherded along by a quintessentially quixotic love story. It is my hope that “The Angel of Nullification” can be assigned in courses that cover the early republic, antebellum period, and the origins of the Civil War.

My sincere thanks to Catherine Kelly, the beloved editor of JER, as well as the peer reviewers who provided excellent feedback.

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