We open 2019 with three articles addressing murder, politics, and ethnoreligious identity in Illinois. In "Untouchable: Joseph Smith's Use of the Law as a Catalyst for Assassination," Alex Smith offers a fine-grained analysis of the Mormon prophet's understanding- and misunderstanding- of key legal concepts leading up to his murder at a Carthage, Illinois jail in 1844. The assassination of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum has been, of course, the subject of a considerable historiography. Alex Smith Sees the Mormon prophet's use (and abuse, if contemporaries are to be taken at their word) of his legal powers as yet another key force driving the mob's anger that fateful day in Carthage.
Like the histroy of Joseph Smith and anti-mormonism, antislavery politics has generated a rich and variegated historiography. In "Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men: The Origins of the Republican Party in DuPage County, Illinois," Stephen Buck synthesizes many of the widely accepted explanations for the Republican Party's emergence in the 1850s, including the powerful ideal of free-soil in the trans-Mississippi West; opposition to the political clout of the "Slave Power" nationally; and genuine moral committments to the abolition of Slavery. DuPage COunty, in Buck's retelling, serves as a sort of case study in the steady growth of free-soil principles in northern Illinois beginning in the 1840s. Buck finds that by the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, the sectional crisis was so encompassing that it deeply inscribed party identification, even in elections to town and county offices.
Always a city of immigrants, Chicago has rightfully served as a key focus for a wide-ranging body of scholarship on the immigrant experience in America. Oddly, however, the French, the first Europeans to se and settle the area, have largely faded from view in histories of immigrant Chicago. Daniel Snow sheds much needed light on the French-American experience in the Windy City in "Of Three Nations: Devotion and Community in French-American Chicago, 1850-1950." By practicing their Catholic faith in their new homeland, building voluntary associations, and mounting street festivals and parades, French immigrants to Chicago staked claims to visibility and citizenship, while synthesizing to tri-partite identity rooted in the distinctive cultural traditions of Old World France, French Quebec, and their newly adopted home in the United States.
"Untouchable: Joseph Smth's Use of the Law"
Alex D. Smith
"Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Origins of the Republican Party in DuPage County, Illinois"
Stephen J. Buck
"Of Three Nations: Devotion and Community in Frech-American Chicago, 1850-1950"
Gregory L. Schneider
Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln. By George R. Dekle, Sr.
Reviewed by Eric Mogren
Free Spirits: Spritualism, Republicansim, Republicanism, and Radicalism in the Civil War. By Mark A. Lause.
Reviewed by Francesca Morgan
National Parks Beyond the Nation: Global Perspectives on "America's Best Idea." Edited by Adrian Howkins, Jared Orsi, and Mark Fiege
Reviewed by Paul Gulezian
From Warren Center