Anglophilia charts the phenomenon of the love of Britain that emerged after the Revolution and remains in the character of U.S. society and class, the style of academic life, and the idea of American intellectualism. But as Tamarkin shows, this Anglophilia was more than just an elite nostalgia; it was popular devotion that made reverence for British tradition instrumental to the psychological innovations of democracy. Anglophilia spoke to fantasies of cultural belonging, polite sociability, and, finally, deference itself as an affective practice within egalitarian politics.
Tamarkin traces the wide-ranging effects of anglophilia on American literature, art and intellectual life in the early nineteenth century, as well as its influence in arguments against slavery, in the politics of Union, and in the dialectics of liberty and loyalty before the civil war. By working beyond narratives of British influence, Tamarkin highlights a more intricate culture of American response, one that included Whig elites, college students, radical democrats, urban immigrants, and African Americans. Ultimately, Anglophila argues that that the love of Britain was not simply a fetish or form of shame-a release from the burdens of American culture-but an anachronistic structure of attachement in which U.S. Identity was lived in other languages of national expression.
One of the most enduring images from the early years of American history is that of a preacher on horseback, slogging through mud and rain to bring folks in the backwoods the message of God and glory. Such religious revivals not only became the defining mark of American religion but also played a central role in the nation's developing identity, independence, and democratic principles.
But revivalism has always generated opposition, too, even in its century of glory. In Anti-Revivalism in Antebellum America, James D. Bratt offers extensive introductions to primary anti-revivalist documents. These works range from the Philadelphia Methodist John F. Watson's protests against camp meetings in 1819, to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Eighty Years and More," written in 1898, in which she recalls her youthful encounter with revival preaching and her rebound into political activism and religious agnosticism. Through the recovered voices of antebellum religious critics, Bratt shows how American culture was already being reshaped a generation before the Civil War and how evangelical religion stood at the center of a "culture war."
If revivals typified the era when Americans launched and defined their new nation, then objections to these revivals embodied the growing discontent at what the nation had become. An important and long overdue collection, this book urges an understanding of anti-revival literature both in the context of the era when it emerged as well as in terms of the broader dynamic of American life.
Includes selections from Orestes Brownson, Horace Bushnell, Calvin Colton, Orville Dewey, Albert Baldwin Dod, George Elley, Charles G. Finney, John Williamson Nevin, Stephen Olin, Phoebe Palmer, Daniel Alexander Payne, Ephraim Perkins, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Joseph Smith, Harriet Beecher Stowe, La Roy Sunderland, John Fanning Watson, Ellen G. White, and Friedrich C. D. Wyneken.
The spread of industrialism, the emergence of professionalism, and the challenge to slavery fueled an anxious debate about the meaning and value of work in antebellum America.
In chapters on Thoreau, Melville, Hawthorne, Rebecca Harding Davis, Susan Warner, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass, Nicholas Bromell argues that American writers generally sensed a deep affinity between the mental labor of writing and such bodily labors as blacksmithing, house building, housework, mothering, and farming. Combining literary and social history, canonical and noncanonical texts, primary source material, and contemporary theory, Bromell establishes work as an important subject of cultural criticism.
In the winter of 1834, twenty men convened in Keene, New Hampshire, and published a fiery address condemning their state's legal system as an abomination that threatened the legacy of the American Revolution. They attacked New Hampshire's constitution as an archaic document that undermined democracy and created a system of conniving attorneys and judges. They argued that the time was right for their neighbors to rise up and return the Granite State to the glorious pathway blazed by the nation's founders.
Few people embraced the manifesto and its radical message. Nonetheless, as Eric J. Morser illustrates in this eloquently written and deeply researched book, the address matters because it reveals how commercial, cultural, political, and social changes were remaking the lives of the men who drafted and shared it in the 1830s. Using an imaginative range of sources, Morser artfully reconstructs their moving personal tales and locates them in a grander historical context. By doing so, he demonstrates that even seemingly small stories from antebellum America can help us understand the rich complexities of the era.
As the size of the United States more than doubled during the first half of the nineteenth century, a powerful current of anxiety ran alongside the well-documented optimism about national expansion. Heartless Immensity tells the story of how Americans made sense of their country’s constantly fluctuating borders and its annexation of vast new territories. Anne Baker looks at a variety of sources, including letters, speeches, newspaper editorials, schoolbooks, as well as visual and literary works of art. These cultural artifacts suggest that the country’s anxiety was fueled primarily by two concerns: fears about the size of the nation as a threat to democracy, and about the incorporation of nonwhite, non-Protestant regions. These fears had a consistent and influential presence until after the Civil War, functioning as vital catalysts for the explosion of literary creativity known as the “American Renaissance,” including the work of Melville, Thoreau, and Fuller, among others.
Building on extensive archival research as well as insights from cultural geographers and theorists of nationhood, Heartless Immensity demonstrates that national expansion had a far more complicated, multifaceted impact on antebellum American culture than has previously been recognized. Baker shows that Americans developed a variety of linguistic strategies for imagining the form of the United States and its position in relation to other geopolitical entities. Comparisons
to European empires, biblical allusions, body politic metaphors, and metaphors derived from science all reflected—and often attempted to assuage—fears that the nation was becoming either monstrously large or else misshapen in ways that threatened cherished beliefs and national self-images.
Heartless Immensity argues that, in order to understand the nation’s shift from republic to empire and to understand American culture in a global context, it is first necessary to pay close attention to the processes by which the physical entity known as the United States came into being. This impressively thorough study will make a valuable contribution to the fields of American studies and literary studies.
Anne Baker is Assistant Professor of English at North Carolina State University.
A teenage orphan from Vermont, Mary Gibson burst onto the literary scene during the
early 1850s as a star writer, under the pseudonym Winnie Woodfern, for more than half a
dozen Boston “story papers,” mass-circulation weekly periodicals that specialized in popular
fiction. Although she would soon join such famous woman authors as Fanny Fern
and E. D. E. N. Southworth as featured contributors to the New York Ledger, America’s
greatest story paper, Gibson’s subsequent output rarely matched the gender-bending creativity
of the tales written in her late teens and early twenties and reprinted in this volume.
But “Hero Strong” and Other Stories does much more than recover the work of a
forgotten literary prodigy. As explained by historian Daniel A. Cohen, Gibson’s tales
also illuminate major interrelated transformations in American girlhood and American
women’s authorship. Challenging traditional gender expectations, thousands of girls of
Gibson’s generation not only aspired to public careers as writers, artists, educators, and
even doctors but also began to experiment with new forms of “female masculinity” in
attitude, bearing, behavior, dress, and sexuality—a pattern only gradually domesticated
by the nonthreatening image of the “tomboy.” Some, such as Gibson, at once realized and
reenacted their dreams on the pages of antebellum story papers.
This first modern scholarly edition of Mary Gibson’s early fiction features ten tales of
teenage girls (seemingly much like Gibson herself) who fearlessly appropriate masculine
traits, defy contemporary gender norms, and struggle to fulfill high worldly ambitions.
In addition to several heroines who seek “fame and riches” as authors or artists,
Gibson’s unconventional protagonists include three female medical students who resort to
grave robbing and a Boston ingénue who dreams of achieving military glory in battle. By
moving beyond “literary domesticity” and embracing bold new models of women’s
authorship, artistry, and worldly achievement, Gibson and her fictional protagonists stand
as exemplars of “the first generation of American girls who imagined they could do almost
Daniel A. Cohen is an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University.
His previous publications include Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime
Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674–1860 and ‘The Female Marine’
and Related Works: Narratives of Cross-Dressing and Urban Vice in America’s Early
When Isaiah Rogers died in 1869, the Cincinnati Daily Times noted that "in his profession he was, perhaps, better known than any other person in the country." Yet until now there has been no study that fully examines his remarkable, influential, and instructive career. Based largely on Rogers's own diary, this book tells his story and adds much to our understanding of architectural practice in the United States before the Civil War.
In 1944 the distinguished historian Talbot Hamlin wrote of New York's Merchant Exchange (1836–42) that the building had "been so grandly conceived, so simply and directly planned, and so beautifully detailed . . . [that] the whole was welded inextricably into one powerful organic conception that shows Rogers as a great architect in the fullest sense of the word." Rogers's Tremont House in Boston has been called the world's first modern hotel; it spawned many progeny, from his first Astor House in New York to his Burnet House in Cincinnati and beyond.
Rogers designed buildings from Maine to Georgia and from Boston to Chicago to New Orleans, supervising their construction while traveling widely to procure materials and workmen for the job. He finished his career as Architect of the Treasury Department during the Civil War. In this richly illustrated volume, James F. O'Gorman offers a deft portrait of an energetic practitioner at a key time in architectural history, the period before the founding of the American Institute of Architects in 1857.
The United States set about defining and reforming its criminal justice institutions during the antebellum years, just as an innovative, expanding print culture afforded authors and publishers unprecedented opportunities to reflect on these important social developments. Carl Ostrowski traces the impact of these related historical processes on American literature, identifying a set of culturally resonant narratives that emerged from criminal justice-related discourse to shape the period's national literary expression.
Drawing on an eclectic range of sources including newspaper arrest reports, prison reform periodicals, popular literary magazines, transatlantic travel narratives, popular crime novels, anthologies of prison poetry, and the memoirs of prison chaplains, Ostrowski analyzes how authors as canonical as Nathaniel Hawthorne and as obscure as counterfeiter/poet/prison inmate Christian Meadows adapted, manipulated, or rejected prevailing narratives about criminality to serve their artistic and rhetorical ends. These narratives led to the creation of new literary subgenres while also ushering in psychological interiority as an important criterion by which serious fiction was judged. Ostrowski joins and extends recent scholarly conversations on subjects including African American civic agency, literary sentimentalism, outsider authorship, and the racial politics of antebellum prison reform.
Time and again, antebellum Americans justified slavery and white supremacy by linking blackness to disability, defectiveness, and dependency. Jenifer L. Barclay examines the ubiquitous narratives that depicted black people with disabilities as pitiable, monstrous, or comical, narratives used not only to defend slavery but argue against it. As she shows, this relationship between ableism and racism impacted racial identities during the antebellum period and played an overlooked role in shaping American history afterward. Barclay also illuminates the everyday lives of the ten percent of enslaved people who lived with disabilities. Devalued by slaveholders as unsound and therefore worthless, these individuals nonetheless carved out an unusual autonomy. Their roles as caregivers, healers, and keepers of memory made them esteemed within their own communities and celebrated figures in song and folklore.
Prescient in its analysis and rich in detail, The Mark of Slavery is a powerful addition to the intertwined histories of disability, slavery, and race.
Moral Enterprise: Literature and Education in Antebellum America, by Derek Pacheco,investigates an important moment in the history of professional authorship. Pacheco uses New England “literary reformers” Horace Mann, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Elizabeth Peabody, and Margaret Fuller to argue that writers came to see in educational reform, and the publication venues emerging in connection with it, a means to encourage popular authorship while validating literary work as a profession. Although today’s schools are staffed by systematically trained and institutionally sanctioned teachers, in the unregulated, decentralized world of antebellum America, literary men and women sought the financial stability of teaching while claiming it as moral grounds for the pursuit of greater literary fame.
Examining the ethically redemptive and potentially lucrative definition of antebellum author as educator, this book traces the way these literary reformers aimed not merely at social reform through literature but also at the reform of literature itself by employing a wide array of practices—authoring, editing, publishing, and distributing printed texts—brought together under the aegis of modern, democratic education. Moral Enterprise identifies such endeavors by their dual valence as bold, reformist undertakings and economic ventures, exploring literary texts as educational commodities that might act as entry points into, and ways to tame, what Mann characterized as the “Alexandrian library” of American print culture.
In A New Type of Womanhood, Natasha Kirsten Kraus retells the history of the 1850s woman’s rights movement. She traces how the movement changed society’s very conception of “womanhood” in its successful bid for economic rights and rights of contract for married women. Kraus demonstrates that this discursive change was a necessary condition of possibility for U.S. women to be popularly conceived as civil subjects within a Western democracy, and she shows that many rights, including suffrage, followed from the basic right to form legal contracts. She analyzes this new conception of women as legitimate economic actors in relation to antebellum economic and demographic changes as well as changes in the legal structure and social meanings of contract.
Enabling Kraus’s retelling of the 1850s woman’s rights movement is her theory of “structural aporias,” which takes the institutional structures of any particular society as fully imbricated with the force of language. Kraus reads the antebellum relations of womanhood, contract, property, the economy, and the nation as a fruitful site for analysis of the interconnected power of language, culture, and the law. She combines poststructural theory, particularly deconstructive approaches to discourse analysis; the political economic history of the antebellum era; and the interpretation of archival documents, including woman’s rights speeches, petitions, pamphlets, and convention proceedings, as well as state legislative debates, reports, and constitutional convention proceedings. Arguing that her method provides critical insight not only into social movements and cultural changes of the past but also of the present and future, Kraus concludes A New Type of Womanhood by considering the implications of her theory for contemporary feminist and queer politics.
Paper Money Men: Commerce, Manhood, and the Sensational Public Sphere in Antebellum America by David Anthony outlines the emergence of a “sensational public sphere” in antebellum America. It argues that this new representational space reflected and helped shape the intricate relationship between commerce and masculine sensibility in a period of dramatic economic upheaval. Looking at a variety of sensational media—from penny press newspapers and pulpy dime novels to the work of well-known writers such as Irving, Hawthorne, and Melville—this book counters the common critical notion that the period’s sensationalism addressed a primarily working-class audience. Instead, Paper Money Men shows how a wide variety of sensational media was in fact aimed principally at an emergent class of young professional men. “Paper money men” were caught in the transition from an older and more stable mercantilist economy to a panic-prone economic system centered on credit and speculation. And, Anthony argues, they found themselves reflected in the sensational public sphere, a fantasy space in which new models of professional manhood were repeatedly staged and negotiated. Compensatory in nature, these alternative models of manhood rejected fiscal security and property as markers of a stable selfhood, looking instead toward intangible factors such as emotion and race in an effort to forge a secure sense of manhood in an age of intense uncertainty.
Historians of workingmen in the antebellum United States have long been preoccupied with labor politics and with the racism, nativism, and misogyny of their public culture. Reading and Disorder in Antebellum America expands our account of such men by asking questions about their social and bodily lives that are more discrete, yet still engaged with the economic forces that radically altered working life as the market revolution transformed a rural, agricultural nation into one that was commercial, industrial, and urban.
To advance a more capacious view of workingmen, David M. Stewart turns to reading, which is where many first encountered antebellum change as a material fact. Tapping sources from serial fiction, reform tracts, and children’s books, to diet, land use policy, and personal correspondence, Stewart contends that in helping retool a workforce of farmers and artisans to meet the disciplinary needs of capital, the period’s burgeoning new print culture industry developed rhetoric that used emotional coercion to affect conduct. This rhetoric also became the basis for recreational idioms that compensated for the pain of both coercive reading itself and the world such reading produced. In the space between the disciplinary and recreational lives of workingmen, Reading and Disorder revises how we understand them as performative subjects, which is to say, as cause and effect of changing antebellum times.
While white residents of antebellum Boston and New Haven forcefully opposed the education of black residents, their counterparts in slaveholding Baltimore did little to resist the establishment of African American schools. Such discrepancies, Hilary Moss argues, suggest that white opposition to black education was not a foregone conclusion. Through the comparative lenses of these three cities, she shows why opposition erupted where it did across the United States during the same period that gave rise to public education.
As common schooling emerged in the 1830s, providing white children of all classes and ethnicities with the opportunity to become full-fledged citizens, it redefined citizenship as synonymous with whiteness. This link between school and American identity, Moss argues, increased white hostility to black education at the same time that it spurred African Americans to demand public schooling as a means of securing status as full and equal members of society. Shedding new light on the efforts of black Americans to learn independently in the face of white attempts to withhold opportunity, Schooling Citizens narrates a previously untold chapter in the thorny history of America’s educational inequality.
Ghosts. Railroads. Sing Sing. Sex machines. These are just a few of the phenomena that appear in John Lardas Modern’s pioneering account of religion and society in nineteenth-century America. This book uncovers surprising connections between secular ideology and the rise of technologies that opened up new ways of being religious. Exploring the eruptions of religion in New York’s penny presses, the budding fields of anthropology and phrenology, and Moby-Dick, Modern challenges the strict separation between the religious and the secular that remains integral to discussions about religion today.
Modern frames his study around the dread, wonder, paranoia, and manic confidence of being haunted, arguing that experiences and explanations of enchantment fueled secularism’s emergence. The awareness of spectral energies coincided with attempts to tame the unruly fruits of secularism—in the cultivation of a spiritual self among Unitarians, for instance, or in John Murray Spear’s erotic longings for a perpetual motion machine. Combining rigorous theoretical inquiry with beguiling historical arcana, Modern unsettles long-held views of religion and the methods of narrating its past.
Part historical narrative, part textual analysis, this book traces the development of American Indian literature from the seventeenth century to the eve of the Civil War. Bernd C. Peyer focuses on the lives and writings of four prominent Indian missionaries—Samson Occom of the Mohegans, William Apess of the Pequots, Elias Boudinot of the Cherokees, and George Copway of the Ojibwa—each of whom struggled to negotiate a secure place between the imperatives of colonial rule and the rights of native peoples.
In the view of the English colonists and their descendants, Indian converts to Christianity were expected to repudiate native traditions and affirm the superiority of European civilization, to serve as role models, and to spread the gospel far into the wilderness. Yet as Bernd C. Peyer shows, Indian missionaries did not always fulfill the expectations of those who trained them. Once the Indians recognized that conversion alone did not guarantee protection from discrimination, they devised a variety of strategies, theological as well as practical, to resist assimilation into the dominant white culture. Making effective use of their literacy and education, they called attention to the discrepancy between the Protestant ideals they had been taught and the Anglo-American practices to which native people were subjected.
By uncovering this subtext of dissent and resistance, Peyer at once alters and enriches our understanding of the evolution of the American Indian literary tradition.