Author, collector, and historian Alice Morse Earle (1851–1911) was among the most important and prolific writers of her day. Between 1890 and 1904, she produced seventeen books as well as numerous articles, pamphlets, and speeches about the life, manners, customs, and material culture of colonial New England. Earle's work coincided with a surge of interest in early American history, genealogy, and antique collecting, and more than a century after the publication of her first book, her contributions still resonate with readers interested in the nation's colonial past.
An intensely private woman, Earle lived in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and four children and conducted much of her research either by mail or at the newly established Long Island Historical Society. She began writing on the eve of her fortieth birthday, and the impressive body of scholarship she generated over the next fifteen years stimulated new interest in early American social customs, domestic routines, foodways, clothing, and childrearing patterns.
Written in a style calculated to appeal to a wide readership, Earle's richly illustrated books recorded the intimate details of what she described as colonial "home life." These works reflected her belief that women had played a key historical role, helping to nurture communities by constructing households that both served and shaped their families. It was a vision that spoke eloquently to her contemporaries, who were busily creating exhibitions of early American life in museums, staging historical pageants and other forms of patriotic celebration, and furnishing their own domestic interiors.
What would an account of early America look like if it were based on examining rural insurrections or Native American politics instead of urban republican literature? Offering a new interpretation of eighteenth-century America, The Backcountry and the City focuses on the agrarian majority as distinct from the elite urban minority.
Ed White explores the backcountry-city divide as well as the dynamics of indigenous peoples, bringing together two distinct bodies of scholarship: one stressing the political culture of the Revolutionary era, the other taking an ethnohistorical view of white–Native American contact. White concentrates his study in Pennsylvania, a state in which the majority of the population was rural, and in Philadelphia, a city that was a center of publishing and politics and the national capital for a decade. Against this backdrop, White reads classic political texts such as Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, Franklin’s Autobiography, and Paine’s “Agrarian Justice,” alongside missionary and captivity narratives, farmers’ petitions, and Native American treaties. Using historical and ethnographic sources to enrich familiar texts, White demonstrates the importance of rural areas in the study of U.S. nation formation and finds unexpected continuities between the early colonial period and the federal ascendancy of the 1790s.
Ed White is associate professor of English at the University of Florida.
In Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Network, Ralph Frasca explores Franklin’s partnerships and business relationships with printers and their impact on the early American press. Besides analyzing the structure of the network, Frasca addresses two equally important questions: How did Franklin establish this informal group? What were his motivations for doing so?
This network grew to be the most prominent and geographically extensive of the early American printing organizations, lasting from the 1720s until the 1790s. Stretching from New England to the West Indies, it comprised more than two dozen members, including such memorable characters as the Job-like James Parker, the cunning Francis Childs, the malcontent Benjamin Mecom, the vengeful Benjamin Franklin Bache, the steadfast David Hall, and the deranged Anthony Armbruster.
Franklin’s network altered practices in both the European and the American colonial printing trades by providing capital and political influence to set up workers as partners and associates. As an economic entity and source of mutual support, the network was integral to the success of many eighteenth-century printers, as well as to the development of American journalism.
Frasca argues that one of Franklin’s principal motivations in establishing the network was his altruistic desire to assist Americans in their efforts to be virtuous. Using a variety of sources, Frasca shows that Franklin viewed virtue as a path to personal happiness and social utility. Franklin intended for his network of printers to teach virtue and encourage its adoption. The network would disseminate his moral truths to a mass audience, and this would in turn further his own political, economic, and moral ambitions.
By exploring Franklin’s printing network and addressing these questions, this work fills a substantial void in the historical treatment of Franklin’s life. Amateur historians and professional scholars alike will welcome Frasca’s clear and capable treatment of this subject.
In this intimate, engaging book, John Demos offers an illuminating portrait of how colonial Americans, from the first settlers to the postrevolutionary generation, viewed their life experiences. He also offers an invaluable inside look into the craft of a master social historian as he unearths--in sometimes unexpected places--fragments of evidence that help us probe the interior lives of people from the faraway past.
The earliest settlers lived in a traditional world of natural cycles that shaped their behavior: day and night; seasonal rhythms; the lunar cycle; the life cycle itself. Indeed, so basic were these elements that "almost no one felt a need to comment on them." Yet he finds cyclical patterns--in the seasonal foods they ate, in the spike in marriages following the autumn harvest. Witchcraft cases reveal the different emotional reactions to day versus night, as accidental mishaps in the light become fearful nighttime mysteries. During the transitional world of the American Revolution, people began to see their society in newer terms but seemed unable or unwilling to come to terms with that novelty. Americans became new, Demos points out, before they fully understood what it meant. Their cyclical frame of reference was coming unmoored, giving way to a linear world view in early nineteenth-century America that is neatly captured by Kentucky doctor Daniel Drake's description of the chronography of his life.
In his meditation on these three worlds, Demos brilliantly demonstrates how large historical forces are reflected in individual lives. With the imaginative insights and personable touch that we have come to expect from this fine chronicler of the human condition, Circles and Lines is vintage John Demos.
Given the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the growing strength of global capitalism, the deindustrialization of wealthy nations, and new academic fashions, class relations are often considered an obsolete mode of historical analysis. Yet unprecedented levels of material inequality and class fragmentation continue to plague both the wealthier and the poorer parts of the world. Addressing this fundamental disconnect between contemporary historical scholarship and reality, Class Analysis in Early America and the Atlantic World, a special issue of Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, offers a reevaluation of the potential and future of class analysis in scholarly work, particularly as it relates to increasing the understanding of the popular struggle in the early modern Atlantic world, a struggle that lies at the heart of many of today’s class-related dilemmas.
Assembling essays written by three generations of labor historians, each with markedly different approaches to the labor histories of early America and the Atlantic world, this issue offers unique insights into the evolution of class analysis and its shifting place in the field of labor history. In one essay, a renowned member of the first generation of “new social historians” reflects on his work, considering the past and future of class analysis while highlighting some of his current views about class in early America. In other essays, a new generation of scholars enriches scholarship on early America and the Atlantic by incorporating complex and nuanced discussions of race and gender into traditional class analyses. Perhaps signaling the future of the field, another essay discusses the theoretical foundations and implications of a globalized mode of historical class analysis, examining the complicated connections among peoples in Europe, Africa, and North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the impact these connections had in shaping early America and the Atlantic world.
An illuminating look at the concepts of race, nation, and equality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America.
The idea that "all men are created equal" is as close to a universal tenet as exists in American history. In this hard-hitting book, David Kazanjian interrogates this tenet, exploring transformative flash points in early America when the belief in equality came into contact with seemingly contrary ideas about race and nation. The Colonizing Trick depicts early America as a white settler colony in the process of becoming an empire--one deeply integrated with Euro-American political economy, imperial ventures in North America and Africa, and pan-American racial formations.
Kazanjian traces tensions between universal equality and racial or national particularity through theoretically informed critical readings of a wide range of texts: the political writings of David Walker and Maria Stewart, the narratives of black mariners, economic treatises, the personal letters of Thomas Jefferson and Phillis Wheatley, Charles Brockden Brown's fiction, congressional tariff debates, international treaties, and popular novelettes about the U.S.-Mexico War and the YucatÃ¡n's Caste War. Kazanjian shows how emergent racial and national formations do not contradict universalist egalitarianism; rather, they rearticulate it, making equality at once restricted, formal, abstract, and materially embodied.
David Kazanjian is associate professor of English, Queens College, and visiting associate professor of English, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.
"Send those on land that will show themselves diligent writers." So urged the "sailing instructions" prepared for explorer Henry Hudson. With distinctive command of the primary texts created by such "diligent writers" as Columbus, William Bradford, and Thomas Jefferson, Wayne Franklin describes how the New World was created from their new words. The long verbal discovery of America, he asserts, entailed both advance and retreat, sudden insights and blind insistence on old ways of seeing. The discoverers, explorers, and settlers depicted America in words—or via maps, tables, and landscape views—as a complex spatial and political entity, a place where ancient formula and current fact were inevitably at odds.
By the 1740s, colonists living in North America began to encounter scores of itinerant performers from England and Europe. These show people—acrobats, wire dancers, tumblers, trick riders, painters, dancing-masters, waxworks proprietors, healers, and singing and language teachers—brought novelty and culture to remote areas. Advertising in newspapers, they attracted audiences with the hook of appearing "for a short time only."
In this richly illustrated and deeply researched book, Peter Benes examines the rise of early American popular culture through the lives and work of itinerants who circulated in British North America and the United States from the late seventeenth through the early nineteenth century. Although they were frequently reviled as quacks and absconders by many provincials, these transients enjoyed a unique camaraderie and found audiences among high- and lowbrow alike. Drawing on contemporary diaries, letters, reminiscences, and hitherto inaccessible newspaper ads, broadsides, and images, Benes suggests why some elements of Europe's carnival and folklore traditions failed to gain acceptance in American society while others flourished brilliantly.
A revealing saga detailing the economic, familial, and social bonds forged by Indian trader George Galphin in the early American South
A native of Ireland, George Galphin arrived in South Carolina in 1737 and quickly emerged as one of the most proficient deerskin traders in the South. This was due in large part to his marriage to Metawney, a Creek Indian woman from the town of Coweta, who incorporated Galphin into her family and clan, allowing him to establish one of the most profitable merchant companies in North America. As part of his trade operations, Galphin cemented connections with Indigenous and European peoples across the South, while simultaneously securing links to merchants and traders in the British Empire, continental Europe, and beyond.
In George Galphin’s Intimate Empire: The Creek Indians, Family, and Colonialism in Early America, Bryan C. Rindfleisch presents a complex narrative about eighteenth-century cross-cultural relationships. Reconstructing the multilayered bonds forged by Galphin and challenging scholarly understandings of life in the Native South, the American South more broadly, and the Atlantic World, Rindfleisch looks simultaneously at familial, cultural, political, geographical, and commercial ties—examining how eighteenth-century people organized their world, both mentally and physically. He demonstrates how Galphin’s importance emerged through the people with whom he bonded. At their most intimate, Galphin’s multilayered relationships revolved around the Creek, Anglo-French, and African children who comprised his North American family, as well as family and friends on the other side of the Atlantic.
Through extensive research in primary sources, Rindfleisch reconstructs an expansive imperial world that stretches across the American South and reaches into London and includes Indians, Europeans, and Africans who were intimately interconnected and mutually dependent. As a whole, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire provides critical insights into the intensely personal dimensions and cross-cultural contours of the eighteenth-century South and how empire-building and colonialism were, by their very nature, intimate and familial affairs.
"In 1806 an anxious crowd of thousands descended upon Lenox, Massachusetts, for the public hanging of Ephraim Wheeler, condemned for the rape of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Betsy. Not all witnesses believed justice had triumphed. The death penalty had become controversial; no one had been executed for rape in Massachusetts in more than a quarter century. Wheeler maintained his innocence. Over one hundred local citizens petitioned for his pardon—including, most remarkably, Betsy and her mother.
Impoverished, illiterate, a failed farmer who married into a mixed-race family and clashed routinely with his wife, Wheeler existed on the margins of society. Using the trial report to reconstruct the tragic crime and drawing on Wheeler’s jailhouse autobiography to unravel his troubled family history, Irene Quenzler Brown and Richard D. Brown illuminate a rarely seen slice of early America. They imaginatively and sensitively explore issues of family violence, poverty, gender, race and class, religion, and capital punishment, revealing similarities between death penalty politics in America today and two hundred years ago.
Beautifully crafted, engagingly written, this unforgettable story probes deeply held beliefs about morality and about the nature of justice."
In this compelling and original book, Caroline Wigginton reshapes our understanding of early American literary history. Overturning long-standing connections between the male-dominated print culture of pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers and the transformative ideas that instigated the American Revolution, Wigginton explores how women's "relational publications"—circulated texts, objects, and performances—transformed their public and intimate worlds. She argues that Native, black, and white women's interpersonal "publications" revolutionized the dynamics of power and connection in public and private spaces, whether those spaces were Quaker meeting houses, Creek talwas, trading posts, burial grounds, or the women's own "neighborhoods."
Informed by deep and rich archival research, Wigginton's case studies explore specific instances of "relational publication." The book begins with a pairing of examples—the statement a grieving Lenape mother made through a wampum belt and the political affiliations created when a salon hostess shared her poetry. Subsequent chapters trace a history of women's publication practice, including a Creek woman's diplomatic and legal procession-spectacles in the colonial Southeast, a black mother's expression of protest in Newport, Rhode Island, and the resulting evangelical revival, Phillis Wheatley's elegies that refigured neighborhoods of enslaved and free Bostonians, and a Quaker woman's pious and political commonplace book in Revolutionary Philadelphia.
Inequality in Early America
Carla Gardina Pestana Dartmouth College Press, 2015 Library of Congress E188.5.I54 1999 | Dewey Decimal 973.2
This book was designed as a collaborative effort to satisfy a long-felt need to pull together many important but separate inquiries into the nature and impact of inequality in colonial and revolutionary America. It also honors the scholarship of Gary Nash, who has contributed much of the leading work in this field. The 15 contributors, who constitute a Who's Who of those who have made important discoveries and reinterpretations of this issue, include Mary Beth Norton on women's legal inequality in early America; Neal Salisbury on Puritan missionaries and Native Americans; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich on elite and poor women's work in early Boston; Peter Wood and Philip Morgan on early American slavery; as well as Gary Nash himself writing on Indian/white history. This book is a vital contribution to American self-understanding and to historical analysis.
Colonial Americans were enamored with the rich colors and silky surface of mahogany. As this exotic wood became fashionable, demand for it set in motion a dark, hidden story of human and environmental exploitation. Anderson traces the path from source to sale, revealing how prosperity and desire shaped not just people’s lives but the natural world.
In the years after the Revolutionary War, the fledgling republic of America was viewed by many Europeans as a degenerate backwater, populated by subspecies weak and feeble. Chief among these naysayers was the French Count and world-renowned naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, who wrote that the flora and fauna of America (humans included) were inferior to European specimens.
Thomas Jefferson—author of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. president, and ardent naturalist—spent years countering the French conception of American degeneracy. His Notes on Virginia systematically and scientifically dismantled Buffon’s case through a series of tables and equally compelling writing on the nature of his home state. But the book did little to counter the arrogance of the French and hardly satisfied Jefferson’s quest to demonstrate that his young nation was every bit the equal of a well-established Europe. Enter the giant moose.
The American moose, which Jefferson claimed was so enormous a European reindeer could walk under it, became the cornerstone of his defense. Convinced that the sight of such a magnificent beast would cause Buffon to revise his claims, Jefferson had the remains of a seven-foot ungulate shipped first class from New Hampshire to Paris. Unfortunately, Buffon died before he could make any revisions to his Histoire Naturelle, but the legend of the moose makes for a fascinating tale about Jefferson’s passion to prove that American nature deserved prestige.
In Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose, Lee Alan Dugatkin vividly recreates the origin and evolution of the debates about natural history in America and, in so doing, returns the prize moose to its rightful place in American history.
In 1812, New Hampshire shopkeeper Timothy M. Joy abandoned his young family, fleeing the creditors who threatened to imprison him. Within days, he found himself in a Massachusetts jailhouse, charged with defamation of a prominent politician. During the months of his incarceration, Joy kept a remarkable journal that recounts his personal, anguished path toward spiritual redemption. Martin J. Hershock situates Joy's account in the context of the pugnacious politics of the early republic, giving context to a common citizen's perspective on partisanship and the fate of an unfortunate shopkeeper swept along in the transition to market capitalism.
In addition to this close-up view of an ordinary person's experience of a transformative period, Hershock reflects on his own work as a historian. In the final chapter, he discusses the value of diaries as historical sources, the choices he made in telling Joy's story, alternative interpretations of the diary, and other contexts in which he might have placed Joy's experiences. The appendix reproduces Joy's original journal so that readers can develop their own skills using a primary source.
The New England Puritans' fascination with the legacy of the Jewish religion has been well documented, but their interactions with actual Jews have escaped sustained historical attention. New Israel/New England tells the story of the Sephardic merchants who traded and sojourned in Boston and Newport between the mid-seventeenth century and the era of the American Revolution. It also explores the complex and often contradictory meanings that the Puritans attached to Judaism and the fraught attitudes that they bore toward the Jews as a people.
More often than not, Michael Hoberman shows, Puritans thought and wrote about Jews in order to resolve their own theological and cultural dilemmas. A number of prominent New Englanders, including Roger Williams, Increase Mather, Samuel Sewall, Benjamin Colman, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and Ezra Stiles, wrote extensively about post-biblical Jews, in some cases drawing on their own personal acquaintance with Jewish contemporaries.
Among the intriguing episodes that Hoberman investigates is the recruitment and conversion of Harvard's first permanent instructor of Hebrew, the Jewish-born Judah Monis. Later chapters describe the ecumenical friendship between Newport minister Ezra Stiles and Haim Carigal, an itinerant rabbi from Palestine, as well as the life and career of Moses Michael Hays, the prominent freemason who was Boston's first permanently established Jewish businessman, a founder of its insurance industry, an early sponsor of the Bank of Massachusetts, and a personal friend of Paul Revere.
How early American Catholics justified secularism and overcame suspicions of disloyalty, transforming ideas of religious liberty in the process.
In colonial America, Catholics were presumed dangerous until proven loyal. Yet Catholics went on to sign the Declaration of Independence and helped to finalize the First Amendment to the Constitution. What explains this remarkable transformation? Michael Breidenbach shows how Catholic leaders emphasized their church’s own traditions—rather than Enlightenment liberalism—to secure the religious liberty that enabled their incorporation in American life.
Catholics responded to charges of disloyalty by denying papal infallibility and the pope’s authority to intervene in civil affairs. Rome staunchly rejected such dissent, but reform-minded Catholics justified their stance by looking to conciliarism, an intellectual tradition rooted in medieval Catholic thought yet compatible with a republican view of temporal independence and church-state separation. Drawing on new archival material, Breidenbach finds that early American Catholic leaders, including Maryland founder Cecil Calvert and members of the prominent Carroll family, relied on the conciliarist tradition to help institute religious toleration, including the Maryland Toleration Act of 1649.
The critical role of Catholics in establishing American church–state separation enjoins us to revise not only our sense of who the American founders were, but also our understanding of the sources of secularism. Church–state separation in America, generally understood as the product of a Protestant-driven Enlightenment, was in key respects derived from Catholic thinking. Our Dear-Bought Liberty therefore offers a dramatic departure from received wisdom, suggesting that religious liberty in America was not bestowed by liberal consensus but partly defined through the ingenuity of a persecuted minority.
During the first half of the nineteenth century a major shift occurred in the medical treatment of illness in the United States, as physicians abandoned the use of "heroic" depletive therapies—the pukes and purges made famous in the 1790s by Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia—in favor of a let-nature-take-its-course approach to most diseases. Standard histories of American medicine have long attributed this shift to new theories and training methods as well as increased competition from homeopaths and botanical doctors. In this book, Catherine L. Thompson challenges that interpretation by emphasizing the role of patients as active participants in their own health care rather than passive objects of medical treatment.
Focusing on Massachusetts, then as now a center of U.S. medical education and practice, Thompson draws on data from patients' journals, medical account ledgers, physicians' daybooks, and court records to link changes in medical treatment to a gradual evolution of patient expectations across varied populations. Specifically, she identifies three developments—the increasing use of cash in medical transactions, growing religious pluralism, and the rise of malpractice suits—as key factors in transforming patients into active medical consumers unwilling to submit to doctors' advice without considering alternatives.
By showing how nineteenth-century patients shaped therapeutic practice "through the medical choices they made or didn't make," Thompson's study alters our understanding of American medicine in the past and has implications for its present and future.
In this innovative study of the relationship between popular print and popular attitudes toward the body, health, and disease in antebellum America, Thomas A. Horrocks focuses our attention on a publication long neglected by scholars—the almanac. Approaching his subject as both a historian of the book and a historian of medicine, Horrocks contends that the almanac, the most popular secular publication in America from the late eighteenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth, both shaped and was shaped by early Americans' beliefs and practices pertaining to health and medicine. Analyzing the astrological, therapeutic, and regimen advice offered in American almanacs over two centuries, and comparing it with similar advice offered in other genres of popular print of the period, Horrocks effectively demonstrates that the almanac was a leading source of health information in America prior to the Civil War. He contends that the almanac was an integral component of a complicated, fragmented, semi-vernacular health literature of the period, and that the genre played a leading role in disseminating astrological health advice as well as shaping contemporary and future perceptions of astrology. In terms of therapeutic and regimen advice, Horrocks asserts that the almanac performed a complementary role, confirming and reinforcing traditional beliefs and practices. By analyzing the almanac as a cultural artifact that represents a time, a place, and a certain set of assumptions and beliefs, he demonstrates that the genre can provide a lens through which scholars may examine early American attitudes and practices concerning their health in particular and American popular culture in general.
In the nineteenth century, new image-making methods like steel engraving and lithography caused a surge in the publication of illustrated books in the United States. Yet even before the widespread use of these technologies, Americans had already established the illustrated book format as central to the nation’s literary culture. In The Portrait and the Book, Megan Walsh argues that colonial-era author portraits, such as Benjamin Franklin’s and Phillis Wheatley’s frontispieces; political portraits that circulated during the debates over the Constitution, such as those of the Founders by Charles Willson Peale; and portraits of beloved fictional characters in the 1790s, such as those of Samuel Richardson’s heroine Pamela, shaped readers’ conceptions of American literature.
Illustrations played a key role in American literary culture despite the fact there was little demand for books by American writers. Indeed, most of the illustrated books bought, sold, and shared by Americans were either imported British works or reprinted versions of those imported editions. As a result, in addition to embellishing books, illustrations provided readers with crucial information about the country’s status as a former colony.
Through an examination of readers’ portrait-collecting habits, writers’ employment of ekphrasis, printers’ efforts to secure American-made illustrations for periodicals, and engravers’ reproductions of British book illustrations, Walsh uncovers in late eighteenth-century America a dynamic but forgotten visual culture that was inextricably tied to the printing industry and to the early US literary imagination.
In this lavishly illustrated volume Richard E. McCabe, Bart W. O'Gara and Henry M. Reeves explore the fascinating relationship of pronghorn with people in early America, from prehistoric evidence through the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. The only one of fourteen pronghorn-like genera to survive the great extinction brought on by human migration into North America, the pronghorn has a long and unique history of interaction with humans on the continent, a history that until now has largely remained unwritten.
With nearly 150 black-and-white photographs, 16 pages of color illustrations, plus original artwork by Daniel P. Metz, Prairie Ghost: Pronghorn and Human Interaction in Early America tells the intriguing story of humans and these elusive big game mammals in an informative and entertaining fashion that will appeal to historians, biologists, sportsmen and the general reader alike.
Winner of the Wildlife Society's Outstanding Book Award for 2005
Bringing together an extraordinary richness of evidence—from letters, diaries, and other intimate family records of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—Philip Greven explores the strikingly distinctive ways in which Protestant children were reared in America. In tracing the hidden continuities of religious experience, of attitudes toward God, children, the self, sexuality, pleasure, virtue, and achievement, Greven identifies three distinct Protestant temperaments prevailing among Americans at the time: the Evangelical, the Moderate, and the General. The Protestant Temperament is a powerful reassessment of the role of child-rearing and religion in early American life.
Casts a revealing light on modern cultural conflicts through the lens of rhetorical education.
Contemporary efforts to revitalize the civic mission of higher education in America have revived an age-old republican tradition of teaching students to be responsible citizens, particularly through the study of rhetoric, composition, and oratory. This book examines the political, cultural, economic, and religious agendas that drove the various—and often conflicting—curricula and contrasting visions of what good citizenship entails. Mark Garrett Longaker argues that higher education more than 200 years ago allowed actors with differing political and economic interests to wrestle over the fate of American citizenship. Then, as today, there was widespread agreement that civic training was essential in higher education, but there were also sharp differences in the various visions of what proper republic citizenship entailed and how to prepare for it.
Longaker studies in detail the specific trends in rhetorical education offered at various early institutions—such as Yale, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and William and Mary—with analyses of student lecture notes, classroom activities, disputation exercises, reading lists, lecture outlines, and literary society records. These documents reveal an extraordinary range of economic and philosophical interests and allegiances—agrarian, commercial, spiritual, communal, and belletristic—specific to each institution. The findings challenge and complicate a widely held belief that early-American civic education occurred in a halcyon era of united democratic republicanism. Recognition that there are multiple ways to practice democratic citizenship and to enact democratic discourse, historically as well as today, best serves the goal of civic education, Longaker argues.
Rhetoric and the Republic illuminates an important historical moment in the history of American education and dramatically highlights rhetorical education as a key site in the construction of democracy.
"As a number of recent studies have shown, the north European commercial world made the precise calculation of risk a central concern of the intellectual project of exploration, trade, and colonization. The great merit of Fichtelberg's book is systematizing the imaged world of dangers, and charting the various kinds of ritual and discursive performances marshaled to deal with the pressure of the unspeakable in early America from the 17th into the early 19th century. The readings of texts are invariably careful, and the points made, persuasive."
---David Shields, University of South Carolina
Risk Culture is the first scholarly book to explore how strategies of performance shaped American responses to modernity. By examining a variety of early American authors and cultural figures, from John Smith and the Salem witches to Phillis Wheatley, Susanna Rowson, and Aaron Burr, Joseph Fichtelberg shows how early Americans created and resisted a dangerously liberating new world. The texts surveyed confront change through a variety of performances designed both to imagine and deter menaces ranging from Smith's hostile Indians, to Wheatley's experience of slavery, to Rowson's fear of exposure in the public sphere. Fichtelberg combines a variety of scholarly approaches, including anthropology, history, cultural studies, and literary criticism, to offer a unique synthesis of literary close reading and sociological theory in the service of cultural analysis.
Joseph Fichtelberg is Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Hofstra University.
The Shakers are known for self-denial and austerity in everyday living and their material world, as embodied by the heavenly simplicity and purity of their chairs and blanket chests. Yet the believers also enjoyed a diversity of visual pleasures, from flowers, sunsets, rainbows, and the northern lights as seen at home to waterfalls, ocean waves, and dramatic cliffs viewed while traveling across America.
In Shaker Vision, Joseph Manca explores original texts, especially diaries and travel journals, and material culture to demonstrate that Shakers enjoyed a remarkably deep experience of the visual world. Shakers shared tastes with mainstream Americans and often employed a similar aesthetic vocabulary, but all within a belief system that made them distinct. In addition to their well-known ascetic architecture, furniture, and handicraft styles, they expressed themselves through ornate and detailed spiritual art and in vivid, visionary experiences. Based on firsthand accounts of the believers themselves, this richly illustrated volume will dramatically change how we assess the visual world of this uniquely American religious sect.
What should serve as money, who should control its creation and circulation, and according to what rules? For more than two hundred years, the “money question” shaped American social thought, becoming a central subject of political debate and class conflict. Sovereign of the Market reveals how and why this happened.
Jeffrey Sklansky’s wide-ranging study comprises three chronological parts devoted to major episodes in the career of the money question. First, the fight over the innovation of paper money in colonial New England. Second, the battle over the development of commercial banking in the new United States. And third, the struggle over the national banking system and the international gold standard in the late nineteenth century. Each section explores a broader problem of power that framed each conflict in successive phases of capitalist development: circulation, representation, and association. The three parts also encompass intellectual biographies of opposing reformers for each period, shedding new light on the connections between economic thought and other aspects of early American culture. The result is a fascinating, insightful, and deeply considered contribution to the history of capitalism.
Living history is one of the most popular, and accessible ways for people of all ages to step back in time. From Colonial Williamsburg, to Mount Vernon, to signs along roadways identifying George Washington stopping points, living history continues to be an accessible way to learn about cultural, historical and political practice in early America.
In Surveying Early America: The Point of Beginning, An Illustrated History, award-winning photographer Dan Patterson and American historian Clinton Terry vividly and succinctly unpack the profession of surveying during the eighteenth century. Over 100 full color photographs exclusively shot for the book depict authentic and historically accurate reproductions of techniques and tools through the use of American reenactors from the Department of Geographer, which provide an interpretive look at surveying as a primary means to building the American nation.
Through the lens of Patterson’s camera and Terry’s narrative, readers see what Washington saw as he learned his trade, explored the vast American wilderness, and occasionally laid personal claim to great expanses of land. Readers are visually and intellectually immersed in the historically accurate details of the surveying practices of George Washington, Virginia’s first surveyor and his team.
Step-by-step, readers learn how early America, in particular the east to the Ohio River Valley was initially divided and documented. Terry characterizes both the profession and methods of land measurement and surveying in British colonial North America—techniques that did not substantially change until the invention of GPS technology 200 years later. Along the way Terry details the various tools of the trade early surveyors used.
Photographer Dan Patterson, working with the Department of the Geographer, restages Washington’s actual expeditions during his time with the Geographers to the Army, the technical staff department consisting of American and French soldiers, whose work in the field supported the Continental Army. Patterson brilliantly displays the processes and instruments Washington used 260 years ago.
Together Ohio based photographer and author team up to create a single story, expanding the understanding of primary source material for general readers and those with a passion for early American history.
A gripping account of the violence and turmoil that engulfed England’s fledgling colonies and the crucial role played by Native Americans in determining the future of North America.
In 1675, eastern North America descended into chaos. Virginia exploded into civil war, as rebel colonists decried the corruption of planter oligarchs and massacred allied Indians. Maryland colonists, gripped by fears that Catholics were conspiring with enemy Indians, rose up against their rulers. Separatist movements and ethnic riots swept through New York and New Jersey. Dissidents in northern Carolina launched a revolution, proclaiming themselves independent of any authority but their own. English America teetered on the edge of anarchy.
Though seemingly distinct, these conflicts were in fact connected through the Susquehannock Indians, a once-mighty nation reduced to a small remnant. Forced to scatter by colonial militia, Susquehannock bands called upon connections with Indigenous nations from the Great Lakes to the Deep South, mobilizing sources of power that colonists could barely perceive, much less understand. Although the Susquehannock nation seemed weak and divided, it exercised influence wildly disproportionate to its size, often tipping settler societies into chaos. Colonial anarchy was intertwined with Indigenous power.
Piecing together Susquehannock strategies from a wide range of archival documents and material evidence, Matthew Kruer shows how one people’s struggle for survival and renewal changed the shape of eastern North America. Susquehannock actions rocked the foundations of the fledging English territories, forcing colonial societies and governments to respond. Time of Anarchy recasts our understanding of the late seventeenth century and places Indigenous power at the heart of the story.
Women’s travel narratives recording journeys north and south along the eastern seaboard and west onto the Ohio frontier enhance our historical understanding of early America. Drawing extensively from primary sources, Traveling Women documents women’s role in westward settlement and emphasizes travel as a culture-building event.
Susan Clair Imbarrato closely examines women’s accounts of their journeys from 1700 to 1830, including Sarah Kemble Knight’s well-known journal of her trip from Boston to New York in 1704 and many lesser-known accounts, such as Sarah Beavis’s 1779 journal of her travel to Ohio via Kentucky and Susan Edwards Johnson’s account or her 1801–2 journey from Connecticut to North Carolina.
In the women’s keen observations and entertaining wit, readers will find bravado mixed with hesitation, as women set forth on business, to relocate, and for pleasure. These travelers wrote compellingly of crossing rivers and mountains, facing hunger, encountering native Americans, sleeping in taverns, and confronting slavery, expressing themselves in voices that differed in sensibility from male explorers and travelers.
These accounts, as Imbarrato shows, challenge assumptions that such travel was predominately a male enterprise. In addition, Traveling Women provides a more balanced portrait of westward settlement by affirming women’s importance in the settling of early America.