During the many years that they were separated by the perils of the American Revolution, John and Abigail Adams exchanged hundreds of letters. Writing to each other of public events and private feelings, loyalty and love, revolution and parenting, they wove a tapestry of correspondence that has become a cherished part of American history and literature.
With Abigail and John Adams, historian G. J. Barker-Benfield mines those familiar letters to a new purpose: teasing out the ways in which they reflected—and helped transform—a language of sensibility, inherited from Britain but, amid the revolutionary fervor, becoming Americanized. Sensibility—a heightened moral consciousness of feeling, rooted in the theories of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, and Adam Smith and including a “moral sense” akin to the physical senses—threads throughout these letters. As Barker-Benfield makes clear, sensibility was the fertile, humanizing ground on which the Adamses not only founded their marriage, but also the “abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity” they and their contemporaries hoped to plant at the heart of the new nation. Bringing together their correspondence with a wealth of fascinating detail about life and thought, courtship and sex, gender and parenting, and class and politics in the revolutionary generation and beyond, Abigail and John Adams draws a lively, convincing portrait of a marriage endangered by separation, yet surviving by the same ideas and idealism that drove the revolution itself.
A feast of ideas that never neglects the real lives of the man and woman at its center, Abigail and John Adams takes readers into the heart of an unforgettable union in order to illuminate the first days of our nation—and explore our earliest understandings of what it might mean to be an American.
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.
Katherine Grandjean shows that the English conquest of New England was not just a matter of consuming territory, of transforming woods into farms. It entailed a struggle to control the flow of information—who could travel where, what news could be sent, over which routes winding through the woods along the early American communications frontier.
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.
Errands into the Metropolis offers a dramatic new interpretation of the texts and contexts of early New England literature. Jonathan Beecher Field inverts the familiar paradigm of colonization as an errand into the wilderness to demonstrate, instead, that New England was shaped and re-shaped by a series of return trips to a metropolitan London convulsed with political turmoil. In London, dissidents and their more orthodox antagonists contended for colonial power through competing narratives of their experiences in the New World. Dissidents showed a greater willingness to construct their narratives in terms that were legible to a metropolitan reader than did Massachusetts Bay’s apologists. As a result, representatives of a variety of marginal religious groups were able to secure a remarkable level of political autonomy, visible in the survival of Rhode Island as an independent colony. Through chapters focusing on John Cotton, Roger Williams, Samuel Gorton, John Clarke, and the Quaker martyrs, Field traces an evolving discourse on the past, present, and future of colonial New England that revises the canon of colonial New England literature and the contours of New England history. In the broader field of early American studies, Field’s work demonstrates the benefits of an Atlantic perspective on the material cultures of print. In the context of religious freedom, Errands into the Metropolis shows Rhode Island’s famous culture of toleration emerging as a pragmatic response to the conditions of colonial life, rather than as an idealistic principle. Errands into the Metropolis offers new understanding of familiar texts and events from colonial New England, and reveals the significance of less familiar texts and events.
At a time when the concept of religion-based politics has taken on new and sometimes ominous tones—even within the United States—it is not only right, but also urgently necessary that William Lee Miller revisit his profound exploration of the place of religious liberty and church and state in America. For this revised edition of The First Liberty, Miller has written a pointed new introduction, discussing how religious liberty has taken on deeper dimensions in a post-9/11 world. With new material on recent Supreme Court cases involving church-state relations and a new concluding chapter on America's religious and political landscape, this volume is an eloquent and thorough interpretation of how religious faith and political freedom have blended and fused to form part of our collective history-and most importantly, how each concept must respect the boundaries of the other.
Though many claim the United States to be a "Christian Nation," Miller provides a fascinatingly vivid account of the philosophical skirmishes and political machinations that led to the "wall of separation" between church and state. That famous phrase is Jefferson's, though it does not appear in the Declaration of Independence nor in the Constitution. But Miller follows this seminal idea from three great standard-bearers of religious liberty: Jefferson, Madison, and Roger Williams. Jefferson, who wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, the precursor of the First Amendment of the Constitution; James Madison, who was politically responsible for Virginia's acceptance of religious liberty and who, a few years later, helped draft the Bill of Rights; and the even earlier figure, the radical dissenter Roger Williams, who propounded the idea of religious freedom not as a rational secularist but out of a deeply held spiritual faith.
Miller re-creates the fierce and vibrant debate among the founding fathers over the means of establishing public virtue in the absence of established religion—a debate that still reverberates in today's passionate arguments about civil rights, school prayer, abortion, Christmas crèches, conscientious objection during warfare—and demonstrates how the right to hold any religious belief has dynamically shaped American political life.
Jennifer R. Mercieca University of Alabama Press, 2010 Library of Congress E302.1.M47 2010 | Dewey Decimal 973.2
An extended analysis of how Americans imagined themselves as citizens between 1764 and 1845
Founding Fictions develops the concept of a “political fiction,” or a narrative that people tell about their own political theories, and analyzes how republican and democratic fictions positioned American citizens as either romantic heroes, tragic victims, or ironic partisans. By re-telling the stories that Americans have told themselves about citizenship, Mercieca highlights an important contradiction in American political theory and practice: that national stability and active citizen participation are perceived as fundamentally at odds.
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 mid-March 1781 John Adams received his commission and instructions as minister to the Netherlands and embarked on the boldest initiative of his diplomatic career. Disappointed by the lack of interest shown by Dutch investors in his efforts to raise a loan for the United States, Adams changed his tactics, and in a memorial made a forthright appeal to the States General of the Netherlands for immediate recognition of the United States. Published in Dutch, English, and French, it offered all of Europe a radical vision of the ordinary citizen's role in determining political events. In this volume, for the first time, the circumstances and reasoning behind Adams's bold moves in the spring of 1781 are presented in full.
In July the French court summoned Adams, the only American in Europe empowered to negotiate an Anglo-American peace, to Paris for consultations regarding an offer made by Austria and Russia to mediate the Anglo-French war. In his correspondence with France's foreign minister, the Comte de Vergennes, Adams passionately insisted that the United States was fully and unambiguously independent and sovereign and must be recognized as such by Great Britain before any negotiations took place. This volume shows John Adams to be a determined and resourceful diplomat, unafraid to go beyond the bounds of traditional diplomacy to implement his vision of American foreign policy.
Table of Contents:
Descriptive List of Illustrations
Introduction 1. Public Diplomacy at the Hague 2. John Adams and His Letterbooks 3. Notes on Editorial Method
Acknowledgments Guide to Editorial Apparatus 1. Textual Devices 2. Adams Family Code Names 3. Descriptive Symbols 4. Location Symbols 5. Other Abbreviations and Conventional Terms 6. Short Titles of Works Frequently Cited
Papers of John Adams, January-September 1781 Appendix: List of Omitted Documents Index
Reviews of this book: The heart of the matter, quite simply, is John Adams--fussing, fuming, stretching his mind to its widest effort, using his eyes to detect everything visible and supposable about the human comedy and tragedy of which he is an event making part. --Adrienne Koch, New York Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: The high quality of production that readers have come to expect from The Adams Papers has been maintained by the Belknap Press. The editors are to he congratulated for so capably continuing publication of this comprehensive and useful documentary edition. --Richard Middleton, William and Mary Quarterly
Reviews of this book: Mr. Butterfield brought to the immense project the high scholarly and literary standards that have distinguished it to this day, as publication of the Papers continues in one splendid volume after another. --David McCullough, John Adams
Reviews of this book: The modern craft of documentary editing--which these superb volumes illustrate at its best--is facing a crisis of funding and of confidence. Volumes such as these and the cumulative insight that they give us as scholars and as a people into the origins of our national institutions are a powerful argument for continuing to invest in the scholarship that produces them. --Constance B. Schulz, Journal of Southern History
Reviews of this book: In the Papers of John Adams the superb standard of editorial scholarship that has been the hallmark of the Adams papers remains evident. It is all there: scrupulous care in presenting the texts; thorough, judicious, and insightful annotation; and the detailed analytic system of indexing that makes it possible to consult the published Adams papers so efficiently...As a result, the new volumes interlock closely with the old so as to enhance the utility of each part of the entire group. --Richard D. Brown, American Historical Review
Adams, with Franklin and Jefferson, formed a joint commission to conclude commercial treaties with the nations of Europe and North Africa. As minister to the Netherlands he raised a new Dutch loan to save America from financial ruin. For the first time since 1778, Adams was no longer engaged in “militia diplomacy.”
Volume 18 of the Papers of John Adams chronicles John Adams’ tenure as minister to Great Britain and his joint commission, with Jefferson, to negotiate treaties with Europe and North Africa. Adams found it impossible to do “any Thing Satisfactory” with Britain, and the volume ends with his decision to resign his posts.
Reviews of this book: Taken together with the celebrated Diary and Autobiography, The Earliest Diary, the Adams Family Correspondence, and The Legal Papers of John Adams, they constitute as revealing and complete a documentation of the development, both personal and public, of a successful revolutionist as modern history affords...In [these letters] the writer bequeathed to posterity a means of sensing some of the excitement, the importance, the fears, the apprehensions of the decade in which 'the real American revolution' was taking place--in short, the flavor of the times. --Carl Bridenbaugh, Times Literary Supplement
More than a century and a half ago, John Adams urged scholars investigate the communications of the Boston Committee of Correspondence, the most radical and important of the revolutionary committees of correspondence. Such a study, Adams suggested, would reveal the underlying impetus of the revolutionary movement. Now, for the first time, Richard D. Brown has made an exhaustive and systematic analysis of the committee that set a pattern for America and for the world by keeping alive the revolutionary spirit at a time when the issues were cloudy and public interest was dormant.
The Boston committee, organized to arouse the people of Massachusetts and to inform them of their rights, initiated the use of local committees of correspondence and went on to become a major revolutionary institution which helped bring about fundamental changes in Massachusetts politics. Mr. Brown's book focuses on the years 1772 to 1774, when the inhabitants of Massachusetts moved from quiet accommodation with the British imperial system to massive rebellion against it. His investigations of the records of the Boston committee and of voluminous town records never before studied have resulted in a revision of previous interpretations regarding the interaction between leaders in Boston and the people in the towns.
The author's findings indicate that the Boston committee did not control Massachusetts political action, manipulating the political behavior of the towns, as earlier theorists have suggested. Though Boston was a leader, the towns generally acted independently, and government by consent developed effectively on the local level. The letters which passed between the capital and the countryside reveal an expanding political consciousness and an ever-increasing political sophistication at the grass-roots level. They articulate an essentially radical view of politics based on popular sovereignty.
As an account of the process of political integration among a colonial people engaged in an independence movement, this book will appeal not only to historians but also to political scientists concerned with the emerging nations of the twentieth century.
Considered the first significant teacher of rhetoric in America, John Witherspoon also introduced Scottish moral philosophy to this country and as president of Princeton University reformed the curriculum to give emphasis to both studies. He was an active pamphleteer on religious and political issues and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Editor Thomas P. Miller argues that Witherspoon’s career exemplifies the Ciceronian ideal, and the eight selections Miller presents from the 1802 American edition of the Works corroborate that claim. This paperback edition includes a new preface by the editor that surveys the scholarship published on Witherspoon over the past twenty-five years and discusses how Miller’s own perspective on Witherspoon has changed during that time.
An incomparably rich source of period information, The Southern Debate over Slavery offers a representative sampling of the thousands of petitions about issues of race and slavery that southerners submitted to their state legislatures between the American Revolution and the Civil War.
These petitions, filed by slaveholders and nonslaveholders, slaves and free blacks, women and men, abolitionists and staunch defenders of slavery, constitute a uniquely important primary source. Petitioners were compelled to present the most accurate and fully documented case they could, since their claims would be subject to public scrutiny and legal verification. Unlike the many reminiscences and autobiographies of the period, these petitions record with great immediacy and minute detail the dynamics, common understandings, and legal restrictions and parameters that shaped southern society during this period.
Arranged chronologically, with their original spelling and idiosyncratic phraseology intact, these documents reveal the grim and brutal nature of human bondage, the fears of whites who lived among large concentrations of blacks, and the workings of the complicated legal system designed to control blacks. They tell about the yearning of bondspeople to gain their freedom, the attitudes of freed blacks who were forced to leave the South, and the efforts of African Americans to overcome harsh and restrictive laws. They also underscore the unique situation of free women of color and the reliance of manumitted (formally freed) blacks on their former owners for protection, travel passes, guardianship papers, and reference letters.
Astonishingly intimate and frank,The Southern Debate over Slavery illuminates how slavery penetrated nearly every aspect of southern life and how various groups of southerners responded to the difficulties they confronted as a result of living in a slave society.
This superb documentary collection illuminates the history of witchcraft and witch-hunting in seventeenth-century New England. The cases examined begin in 1638, extend to the Salem outbreak in 1692, and document for the first time the extensive Stamford-Fairfield, Connecticut, witch-hunt of 1692–1693. Here one encounters witch-hunts through the eyes of those who participated in them: the accusers, the victims, the judges. The original texts tell in vivid detail a multi-dimensional story that conveys not only the process of witch-hunting but also the complexity of culture and society in early America. The documents capture deep-rooted attitudes and expectations and reveal the tensions, anger, envy, and misfortune that underlay communal life and family relationships within New England’s small towns and villages.
Primary sources include court depositions as well as excerpts from the diaries and letters of contemporaries. They cover trials for witchcraft, reports of diabolical possessions, suits of defamation, and reports of preternatural events. Each section is preceded by headnotes that describe the case and its background and refer the reader to important secondary interpretations. In his incisive introduction, David D. Hall addresses a wide range of important issues: witchcraft lore, antagonistic social relationships, the vulnerability of women, religious ideologies, popular and learned understandings of witchcraft and the devil, and the role of the legal system. This volume is an extraordinarily significant resource for the study of gender, village politics, religion, and popular culture in seventeenth-century New England.
An intimate look inside Plymouth Plantation that goes beyond familiar founding myths to portray real life in the settlement—the hard work, small joys, and deep connections to others beyond the shores of Cape Cod Bay.
The English settlement at Plymouth has usually been seen in isolation. Indeed, the colonists gain our admiration in part because we envision them arriving on a desolate, frozen shore, far from assistance and forced to endure a deadly first winter alone. Yet Plymouth was, from its first year, a place connected to other places. Going beyond the tales we learned from schoolbooks, Carla Gardina Pestana offers an illuminating account of life in Plymouth Plantation.
The colony was embedded in a network of trade and sociability. The Wampanoag, whose abandoned village the new arrivals used for their first settlement, were only the first among many people the English encountered and upon whom they came to rely. The colonists interacted with fishermen, merchants, investors, and numerous others who passed through the region. Plymouth was thereby linked to England, Europe, the Caribbean, Virginia, the American interior, and the coastal ports of West Africa. Pestana also draws out many colorful stories—of stolen red stockings, a teenager playing with gunpowder aboard ship, the gift of a chicken hurried through the woods to a sickbed. These moments speak intimately of the early North American experience beyond familiar events like the first Thanksgiving.
On the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing and the establishment of the settlement, The World of Plymouth Plantation recovers the sense of real life there and sets the colony properly within global history.