Tag Archives: Canadian Journal of History

  • “The view of the nation, Sire, is that the Constitution be respected:” Support for the French Constitution of 1791 on the Eve of the Republican Revolution

    Written by guest blogger, William S. Cormack.

    This article is part of a larger project on the French Legislative Assembly and the demise of the Constitution of 1791. I have always been interested in the French Revolution’s shift from its original moderate phase to its more radical phase. The period of the Legislative Assembly, from September 1791 to August 1792, has been relatively neglected by scholars. Yet these were months of great political significance, of high drama, of fear and uncertainty.

    One of the most dramatic episodes occurred on 20 June 1792 when crowds invaded the Tuileries palace in Paris. While Louis XVI made no concession to the popular militants, who demanded he sanction the Legislative Assembly’s decrees against émigrés and refractory priests, this journée is usually seen as step toward the insurrection of 10 August that overthrew the monarchy. The events of 20 June, however, provoked an outpouring of protest from across provincial France: departmental directories, district councils, municipalities, political clubs, and groups of ordinary citizens sent addresses and petitions to the Legislative Assembly denouncing the events in Paris. The address presented by a delegation from the Seine-et-Oise echoed the sentiments expressed in many other petitions: “We come in the name of the citizens of our department to foil the factious who dare to present to Your Majesty the shocking view of a few misled individuals as the view of the nation. The view of the nation, Sire, is that the Constitution be respected.”

    In examining this period, historians have emphasized the importance of the king’s attempted flight in June 1791 to undermining the early revolutionary consensus. Scholars have also explored the emergence of the popular movement in Paris, the rise of the Jacobin Club and its provincial network of popular societies, and the fateful consequences of France’s declaration of war against Austria in April 1792. All of these factors help to explain the fall of the constitutional monarchy on 10 August 1792, but their examination often reveals little about those who opposed the coming of a second revolution. My interest in that question was stimulated by Michael P. Fitzsimmons’ The remaking of France: The National Assembly and the Constitution of 1791, which argues that the importance of the constitution has too often been minimized or neglected. The same could be said for those who supported the Constitution of 1791 on the eve of its collapse. With regard to the provincial denunciations of the events of 20 June 1792 in Paris, historians have tended to characterize such protests as “royalist.”

    Yet reading these documents in the Archives Nationales, I found it striking that their statements of loyalty to Louis XVI are overshadowed by expressions of commitment to the principles of 1789. The petitions’ authors feared that the crowd’s intimidation of the king, incited or encouraged by the Jacobin Club, threatened the rule of law, individual liberty, the independence of the national legislature, and, above all, the survival of constitutional government. Thus provincial reactions to the journée of 20 June 1792 suggest evidence of a more subtle political division in France between radicals and defenders of the liberal revolution. The failed efforts to defend the Constitution of 1791 perhaps have relevance to our contemporary world where political moderation is out of fashion and rising populism threatens the ideal of written constitutions upholding individual rights and the rule of law.

    Photo of William S. Cormack

    William S. Cormack received his Ph.D. from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario, in 1992. In 1995 Cambridge University Press published his first book, Revolution and Political Conflict in the French Navy 1789-1794. Since 1998 he has been a member of the Department of History at the University of Guelph in Ontario, where he teaches modern European history. His new book, Patriots, Royalists, and Terrorists in the West Indies: The French Revolution in Martinique and Guadeloupe, 1789-1802, comes out with the University of Toronto Press in November 2018. His current research concerns the French Legislative Assembly and the demise of the Constitution of 1791. His article in the CJH/ACH is entitled “Defending the Liberal Revolution in France: Provincial Reactions to the Parisian journée of 20 June 1792,” and is available for FREE for a limited time at UTP Journals Online.

  • Moving to Online Publication: Canadian Journal of History / Annales canadiennes d'histoire

    For over fifty years, the CJH / ACH has produced first-class historical scholarship that reaches a wide audience. That audience is increasingly accessing our content wholly through digital platforms. Last year alone, 10,000 readers downloaded articles and book reviews. In response to this reality, and to rapid changes in academic publishing, our Editorial Board has decided that starting in 2019 the CJH / ACH will be published online only. The shift to digital-only production will allow us to produce higher-quality copy that is more accessible to low-vision readers, while also enabling us to include full-colour, high resolution images. And, if you are already an online subscriber, you know that this means you get the journal sooner than the mail can deliver it!

    We thank you for your continued support!

    CJH/ACH Covers Read Online

    Want to see what’s been making impact online? Here are our some of most downloaded articles!

    Articles

    Raven Plays Ball: Situating “Indian Sports Days” within Indigenous and Colonial Spaces in Twentieth-Century Coastal British Columbia
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/cjh.ach.50.3.003

    Since Skyscrapers: New Histories of Native-Newcomer Relations in Honour of the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of J.R. Miller’s Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/cjh.ach.50.3.001

    The Adoption of Frances T: Blood, Belonging, and Aboriginal Transracial Adoption in Twentieth-Century Canada
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/cjh.ach.50.3.004

    Commerce, Industry, and the Laws of Newtonian Science: Weber Revisited and Revised
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjh.35.2.275

    Difficultés Économiques et Réaction Seigneuriale au Terroir de Beaucaire: La Commanderie des Hospitaliers de Saint-Pierre de Campublic aux XIVe et XVe Siècles
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjh.25.1.1

    “He was neither a soldier nor a slave: he was under the control of no man”: Kahnawake Mohawks in the Northwest Fur Trade, 1790–1850
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/full/10.3138/cjh.ach.51.1.001

    The Queen’s Jews: Religion, Race, and Change in Twentieth-Century Canada
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjh.49.3.369

    Reviews

    The Fascist Challenge and the Policy of Appeasement, edited by Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Lothar Kettenacker
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjh.19.3.466

    Histoire des industries françaises. Les industries lainères de Colbert à la Révolution, par Tihomir J. Markovitch
    https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/pdf/10.3138/cjh.12.3.423

  • Julia Pyryeskina: Historical Junctures & Gaps in the Archives

    Written by guest blogger, Julia Pyryeskina.

    Julia Pyryeskina holding a black catPhoto Credit: Giselle Gos

    My field of study is contemporary activist history, with a focus on the Canadian gay and lesbian liberation. I am now starting to look at trans organizing in Toronto in the 1970s and 1980s.

    In Becki L. Ross’s words, the winter of 1977-78 was a complicated “historical and political juncture” of several key events in the history of the gay and lesbian community in Toronto: the murder of twelve-year old Emanuel Jacques and The Body Politic’s publication of an article about adult-child relationships and its subsequent raid by the police had coincided with the short-lived victory of an ordinance to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Dade county, Florida, USA. With Anita Bryant’s Save the Children organization at the helm, a furious campaign by right-wing evangelical Christians had overturned the ordinance. Bryant was invited to tour Canada with her message, alarming Canadian activists — what were the repercussions of Bryant’s proselytizing North of the border, and what did this mean for the provincial campaign to include “sexual orientation” as a discrimination rubric in the Ontario Human Rights Code?

    I came across the Anita Bryant protests when reading The Body Politic in the CLGA archives. In 1978, TBP’s Michael Merrill had offered an incisive analysis of the relationship between Anita’s homophobia, the election of a populist President and the rise of the far-right in US politics, which seemed oddly timely.

    Issues that already divided gay activists from TBP and lesbian feminist mothers were again brought into stark contrast: Was freedom of the press more important than bad press for the gay liberation movement? Lesbian mothers struggling to retain custody of their children had little sympathy for gay men nostalgic about their own underage sexual encounters. In return, some gay men compared lesbians’ outrage about the sexual abuse of children with Bryant’s appeal to the institution of family as the basis for her homophobic rhetoric.

    Because it was a complicated moment in time, it generated a lot of arguing – and, if documented, arguments make for really good archival material. Putting these things together helped me create a more detailed snapshot of what was happening. However, I still had trouble placing the events in the wider context. While the Bryant protests illustrated the divisions in the community, what relevance did they have for later political organizing?

    CJH’s peer reviewers pushed me to expand the scope of my article to contextualize these events, and to analyze why it was important. With their feedback, and with advice from Dr. Gary Kinsman, I expanded the article to connect the organizing against Bryant with the short-lived, gay anti-right organizing in the early 1980s. Rilla Friesen’s support and insight led me the rest of the way.

    However, the snapshot is limited. As Marcus Syrus Ware and Rinaldo Walcott have argued, The Body Politic and the CLGA documented white and cisgender gay histories, and have marginalized and erased voices of cis and trans Black and Indigenous people of colour. Moving forward, my goal is to engage meaningfully with critiques of the whiteness of mainstream gay and lesbian history in my work. As a historian, I strive both to work within the archives and to see their gaps.

    Julia Pyryeskina was awarded the Linda F. Dietz Prize for the 2017-2018 academic year by the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire. Her award-winning article, “‘A remarkably dense historical and political juncture’: Anita Bryant, The Body Politic, and the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Community in January 1978” is open access for a limited time.

    The Linda F. Dietz Prize is awarded annually for the best article submitted by a graduate student registered at a Canadian university, or by a Canadian graduate student studying internationally.

  • An Interview between the CJH/ACH and Kate M. Burlingham

    Photo of Kate Burlingham

    Kate M. Burlingham is an expert in US foreign relations and global history, and an assistant professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. Her article, “From Hearing to Heresy: The Temporary Slavery Commission, the Congregational Church, and the Foundations of Anti-Colonial Organizing in Angola,” appeared in the most recent issue of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire, a themed issue discussing New Histories of Twentieth-Century Decolonization.

    We asked Dr. Burlingham what prompted her to pursue a career in history.

    “Throughout much of my early schooling, I had excellent history teachers. In high school, we took frequent field trips to the Boston Public Library to comb through microfilm. Those were experiences I loved and that shaped my course decisions when I arrived at college. It helped to be surrounded by beautiful libraries; I grew up in Cambridge MA at a time when anyone could walk into the Harvard libraries to do research or study. I also grew up in a family that valued history as a field of study and as a way to understand the present.”

    Dr. Burlingham notes that this is not always the case. “As a professor, I’m often having to ‘sell’ the major for the skills it gives you, regardless if students intend to pursue a career in history. That was never a justification I had to make.”

    Dr. Burlingham told us that her historical interests are wide-ranging, but she is particularly interested in the actions of Americans outside of the United States and the sometimes unexpected results of these actions. “[T]his [interest] really began in graduate school when I observed that I was the only American historian taking classes in non-western history. For example, most of my colleagues in African history courses who weren’t Africanists were Europeanists or from other disciplines. Given the role of the US in the world, I think it is imperative that US historians also be compelled to take global history and area studies courses.” These classroom experiences made her curious as to how the US looked to outsiders. “Such a perspective,” she explained, “has allowed me to move in and out of the categories historians usually use to label themselves. For me, it makes things more interesting because I’m constantly learning from a wide body of scholars who aren’t always talking to each other but should be.”

    Dr. Burlingham’s article in the CJH/ACH examines the importance of Congregational Missions and Mission schools in creating a political network in Angola that became central to the nation’s independence movement. She notes, however, that this was not the intent of the Congregational Mission. “Missionaries, at least at this early date, were not discussing the end of colonial order but rather its reform. It’s not until decades later that you get a post-WWII generation of missionaries who have more ‘revolutionary’ ideas about the end of European colonialism and even then, often for practical reasons, they tended to be relatively cautious in calling for an end to the colonialism.”

    Another key aspect to the narrative told in “From Hearing to Heresy” is the Report on Employment of Native Labor in Portuguese Africa, also known as the Ross Report. This report was presented to the League of Nations’ Temporary Slavery Commission and exposed the inhumane forced labour policies of Portuguese Angola to the growing international community. We asked Dr. Burlingham what brought her to the Ross Report.

    “I came across references to the Ross Report when I was doing research for my dissertation in Portugal and Angola on the larger history of the Congregational Missions in Angola. The Report itself, and references to it, linger in official Portuguese government correspondence for years after it happened. I think for government officials it demonstrated to them all the things they feared would come from Protestant missionary work in Angola [and] so was a useful reference point for them to come back to over and over.”

    Portugal’s reaction to the report, and their subsequent embarrassment on the international stage, prompted them to react violently in Angola. The state blamed the Congregational Missions and Protestant Angolans for the report and set out to diminish the missions’ influence and presence. Asked if she thought there was any way to avoid the heavily nationalistic response Portugal had to the Report, Dr. Burlingham replied, “That’s hard to say with any certainty but I’d be inclined to say no. At the moment when discussions in the League of Nations were occurring there is extreme European concern that the League would become an extra-national power that would dictate what should happen within nations’ domestic affairs. It’s that kind of fear that eventually kept the United States out of the League. Add to that concern, the image of a rising US superpower and a decline in European hegemony, of which Portugal owned a smaller piece at this point, and you have a recipe for a nationalist backlash.” She added that it is also possible that Portugal was “doubtful whether other European powers would come to their rescue or if they would use them as a sacrificial lamb on the path toward trying to convince the world that colonialism was truly humanitarian.”

    Kate M. Burlingham’s article, “From Hearing to Heresy: The Temporary Slavery Commission, the Congregational Church, and the Foundations of Anti-Colonial Organizing in Africa,” is available FREE to read for a limited time: https://doi.org/10.3138/cjh.ach.52.3.02.

  • Rogue Lawyers or Rights Lawyers? Strategies of Legal Activism during Africa’s Decolonization

    Written by guest blogger Meredith Terretta.

    In November 1959, Ernest Ouandié, the Vice-President of the Union of the Populations of Cameroon (UPC), wrote from exile in Cairo to Ralph Millner, British Queen’s Counsel and activist lawyer who had defended Kwame Nkrumah (later Ghana’s first president) against allegations of inciting labour riots in late 1940s Accra. Ouandié asked for Millner’s assistance in an upcoming trial in British Cameroons of two UPC organizers and labour activists from French Cameroon who had been detained in the British territory for overstaying their transit visas by a mere 24 hours. Based on the outcome of previous trials of UPC activists in British territory, Ouandié believed that if Mayoa Beck and Louis-Fernand Yopa were found guilty of the charges against them, they would be declared “prohibited immigrants” and escorted into the custody of Franco-Cameroonian security forces across the Anglo-French boundary. Here they would certainly be arrested again for posing a threat to state security. Convictions for crimes such as these in the politically charged atmosphere of French Cameroon’s decolonization resulted in the severest of punishments including life imprisonment with hard labour, and execution. Ouandié asked Millner to defend Beck and Yopa on the charges against them, but also to prepare a request for their political asylum in British territory, or their deportation to independent Ghana — rather than to French Cameroon — in case they were convicted.

    I discovered Ouandié’s letter in 2016 at the Institute for Commonwealth Studies Library among Millner’s personal papers and was excited that it backed up what I already knew: lawyers who defended Africans in colonial courtrooms throughout Africa during the age of decolonization worked together across national and imperial borders. Looking at these activities from a cross-border perspective entirely reshaped my historical understanding of Africa’s decolonization.

    Since 2010 I had been interested in how anticolonial activism across the African continent linked to networks elsewhere, as well as how it brought together internationalists who had adopted the then-novel concept of universal human rights. As I started this project, I knew I wanted to prioritize sources other than the usual official colonial records in order to gain access to the views of those who stood apart from imperial authorities. I began with the case files and correspondence of activists such as African political agitators, anticolonialist lawyers, and leaders of the first transnational NGOs such as International League of the Rights of Man, the Movement for Colonial Freedom, or the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. I learned which lawyers had devoted the height of their careers to the anticolonial cause, and read their trial records and memoirs.

    The most exciting letters I found were the ones that revealed that French and British activist lawyers corresponded with each other, and that African inhabitants of French-controlled territories engaged British citizens as defense lawyers; that Indian lawyers represented Africans in colonial Kenya and Tanganyika; and that Caribbean-born lawyers with British or French citizenship were among those who took up the anticolonial cause through law. I also found plenty of evidence that showed how British and French officials saw coordinated, international legal activism as a threat. This is starkly clear in the recently discovered and released Migrated Archive of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Great Britain — the colonial records that the British took with them as the empire decolonized.

    My array of sources presented Africa’s decolonization as reaching beyond the imperially-bordered stories historians have gathered from research in state and colonial records. I realized that if I reconceived of Africa’s decolonization as an international legal strategy, I could demonstrate that activist lawyers and their African clients implemented this strategy to transform the law — upon which colonial administrators had, until now, relied to govern — into an instrument of contestation and ultimately liberation.

    African political leaders and their anticolonialist defense lawyers contributed to three internationally transformative projects gathering momentum after the Second World War: decolonization, the Cold War, and human rights. Because of my new perspective on the transregional legal activism in Africa at this time, I reached three ground-breaking conclusions about the way that anticolonial legal activism worked with these factors.

    First, revolutionary African anticolonialism was expressed in a practice of legal activism that sought to make the law accessible not only to elites, but to the colonial subjects who, until this moment, the law had subjugated, controlled, and guaranteed fewer rights. The International Association of Democratic Lawyers articulated this strategy most clearly in using the phrase “human rights,” in 1947, to orient its vision of the law’s potential to dismantle imperial power.

    Second, the Cold War front in 1940s and 1950s Africa was much smaller — although no less potent — than the armed struggles and proxy wars that characterized it in the 1960s and 1970s. In the earlier period, the Cold War took root in the lawyers who represented the interests of Africans seeking to shape how the law would look once territories decolonized. Here, the figure of Dudley Thompson, the British-Jamaican lawyer who seems to have served as unwilling informant for the British colonial government, depicts poignantly how the Cold War front fissured personal relationships and subverted loyalties.

    Finally, though in 1940s and 1950s Africa the international legal strategy that most successfully invoked human rights operated in the service of a revolutionary, socialist and Pan-Africanist agenda, in the late 1950s the formation (with CIA funds) of the International Commission of Jurists gave rise to a new international legal strategy to neutralize that of activists. In the ICJ’s international legal strategy, human rights and the rule of law — rather than its democratization — were the primary objectives. It was a strategy that preserved the law’s power to uphold the status quo rather than undo it. Its emphasis on individual rights weakened the ability of collective projects — like those explored in my article — to transform the structural inequalities that colonialism had established.

    The exciting possibility that arises from these findings is that decolonizing Africa may be where human rights were first transformed from a project for economic, social, and racial equality into the liberal project of individual rights protections that emerged in the late 1970s. My article only gestures toward this possibility, but the empirical evidence I’ve mustered here is sufficient, I hope, to encourage further investigation.

    Meredith Terretta
    Meredith Terretta holds the Gordon F. Henderson Research Chair in Human Rights and is an associate professor of history at the University of Ottawa. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled Activism at the Fringes of Empire: Rogue Lawyers and Rights Activists In and Out of Twentieth Century Africa. She is Vice-President of the Canadian Association of African Studies. Her latest article, “Anti-Colonial Lawyering, Postwar Human Rights, and Decolonization across Imperial Boundaries in Africa,” appears in issue 52.3 of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire and is available here for FREE for a limited time: https://doi.org/10.3138/cjh.ach.52.3.03.

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