Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

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Preface

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pp. v-vi

When the British marched into Washington, D.C., on August 24, 1814, and torched the city, reducing the Capitol and other federal buildings to rubble, they struck not just a physical but also a symbolic blow to the center of the new nation. The invasion revived fears about the danger of internal insurrection by blacks, the dissolution of the Union, and, if it survived, the abandonment of Washington as its capital. These anxieties, brought to the fore by wartime, had deeper roots in the upheavals of the Revolution, which had...

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

Nicole Eustace

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pp. 1-26

When Noah Webster presented the first-ever American-authored dictionary of the English language to the reading public in 1806, thirty years had passed since America had declared independence from Great Britain. In those three decades, the nation had undergone a revolution, two national constitutions, and innumerable state and local ones. It had engaged in protracted debates about the nature of authority, the location of territorial borders, the form of economy, and the definition of citizenry. At the moment that Webster...

Part I. Slavery, Nation, and the Ongoing Revolution

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pp. 27-28

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Minstrelization and Nationhood: “Backside Albany,” Backlash, and the Wartime Origins of Blackface Minstrelsy

David Waldstreicher

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pp. 29-55

The first blackface minstrel song debuted as a stage piece, “sung in the Character of a Black Sailor,” as the Boston broadside version put it, at the Green Street Theatre in Albany, New York, a few weeks after the American victory in the Battle of Plattsburgh, in a play about that campaign. Later titled for its provocative first line, “Backside Albany” was not only “one of the most popular songs written and sung during the war,” according to the mid-nineteenth-century chronicler Benson J. Lossing, it was also “the most popular song in...

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Meditating on Slavery in the Age of Revolution: Barbary Captivities and the Whitening of American Democracy

Carroll Smith-Rosenberg

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pp. 56-94

American democracy rests on the solid base of racial exclusion. For nearly a century and a half, it coexisted, first with chattel slavery and then with the peonage of millions of African Americans whose legal subjecthood it denied, whose political rights it refused, and whom it systematically subjected to physical and psychological violence.1 From the nation’s founding, inclusion in and exclusion from the body politic has been racialized. Citizenship and whiteness have been defined in opposition to slavery and blackness, the...

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“Murder, Robbery, Rape, Adultery, and Incest”: Martha Meredith Read’s Margaretta and the Function of Federalist Fiction

Duncan Faherty

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pp. 95-126

In a series of columns originally published in the Connecticut Courant throughout the early fall of 1800, the staunchly Federalist “Burleigh” warned against the dangers of electing Thomas Jefferson as president. Historians have long cited Burleigh’s electric prose as representative of the contentious rhetoric surrounding the revolution of 1800. They have done so with good cause, as Burleigh vividly indexed the partisanship of the era. If the Federalists lost power, Burleigh proclaimed, “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and...

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Conceptual Traffic: The Atlantic Slave Trade and the War of 1812

Christen Mucher

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pp. 127-163

When Frederick Douglass was invited to deliver a Fourth of July oration to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society in 1852, he famously spoke about the shame, rather than the glory, of the national anniversary. Although his speech was supposed to celebrate the day marking the “political freedom” of the American people, Douglass took the opportunity to highlight the hypocrisy of jubilee in a country that still practiced slavery and the trade in human beings. “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” he asked, and then answered: “a day that reveals to him, more than all other...

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The Radicalism of the First Seminole War and Its Consequences

Nathaniel Millett

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pp. 164-202

Most historians of the First Seminole War recognize that the conflict was racialized in that it pitted the United States’ armed forces against blacks and Indians, was connected to American territorial expansion, and was—to varying degrees—related to the Patriot War, Creek War, and War of 1812 in the Southeast. The Spanish Empire’s inability to control the Floridas, filibusters, or meddling by the British also appear in many discussions of the conflict. Likewise, most treatments of the 1821 acquisition of Florida by the...

Part II. Representing the Republic

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pp. 203-204

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For the Love of Glory

Matthew Rainbow Hale

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pp. 205-249

In the War of 1812’s aftermath, Americans were awash in glory, or so said that conflict’s enthusiasts. “The brilliant events by sea and land, and the glorious termination of the late contest, has placed our country on exalted ground,” ninety-two New York state legislators proclaimed, while the Lexington, Kentucky, Western Monitor reprinted a New Hampshire Portsmouth Oracle piece hailing the “blaze of glory, which has surrounded our gallant navy.” In a widely reprinted speech lauding Andrew Jackson and his soldiers...

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Military Service and Racial Subjectivity in the War Narratives of James Roberts and Isaac Hubbell

James M. Greene

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pp. 250-277

Among the many veterans of the Revolutionary War who published their memoirs, Jonathan Burnham, a colonel in the New Hampshire line, perhaps provided the most glowing account of the war’s results in his 1814 text: “Then we had our independence from Great Britain, and peace and plenty and the love of the whole world, and were the happiest nation in the world.” If Burnham might have been guilty of a small measure of hyperbole in this account, his rosy recollection of the United States following the Revolution...

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Naval Biography, the War of 1812, and the Contestation of American National Identity

Tim Lanzendörfer

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pp. 278-312

In September 1813, the Philadelphia magazine the Port-Folio published a biography of James Lawrence, an American naval officer who had died on June 1 in the first frigate action that the U.S. Navy had lost during the war. His death and the lost fight had occasioned much mourning, and the Port-Folio was not alone in deeming it “a national duty . . . to contribute our efforts to extend and perpetuate” Lawrence’s “fame.” Yet what the Port-Folio produced was more than biography. It kept its reportage of Lawrence’s...

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The Self- Abstracting Letters of War: Madison, Henry, and the Executive Author

Eric Wertheimer

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pp. 313-330

Calculating the probability that New England would secede from the union if the U.S. Congress were to declare war on Britain, John Henry, the British spy, seemed to understand what it took to move the powerful to action. In an encrypted letter dated March 7, 1809, he took a jab at James Madison’s constitutional authority: “The truth is, the common people have so long regarded the Constitution of the United States with complacency, that they are now only disposed in this quarter to treat it like a truant mistress, whom they...

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“Can You Be Surprised at My Discouragement?” Global Emulation and the Logic of Colonization at the New York African Free School

Anna Mae Duane

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pp. 331-356

An 1819 valedictory address at the New York African Free School (NYAFS), spoken by a fourteen-year-old student named James Fields, but written by white trustee Ruben Leggett, told a tale of a thwarted journey:

I crave your sympathy for my Self and for my School mates, for I feel that we need it. Had I the mind of a Lock[e] and the eloquence of a Chatham Still would there not be in the minds of some an immense distance that would divide me from one of a White Skin—What, signifies it....

Part III. Expansion and the Intimacy of Borders

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pp. 357-358

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Widening the Scope on the Indians’ Old Northwest

Jonathan Todd Hancock

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pp. 359-385

In early 1814, a delegation of Sioux leaders, including a man named Red Wing, met with British captain Thomas G. Anderson near the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. Having long traded with the Sioux and accompanied them on summer raids against their indigenous enemies in the region, Anderson sought their support for Great Britain’s ongoing war with the United States. Although rumors of U.S. military power had led many in the delegation to return medals signifying their alliance with...

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Domestic Fronts in the Era of 1812: Slavery, Expansion, and Familial Struggles for Sovereignty in the EarlyNineteenth-­Century Choctaw South

Dawn Peterson

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pp. 386-418

While working on Choctaw homelands in the lower Mississippi Valley, U.S. Indian agent Silas Dinsmoor began to imagine himself as a father to Choctaw people. In the spring of 1807, as he put the African men and women he enslaved to work on the plantation farm he ran as part of his newly relocated Choctaw agency, Dinsmoor saw himself as mirroring, like a good father, the patriarchal agrarian life to which he believed Choctaw women and men should aspire. For, when his cattle wandered into his agency grounds once...

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“Borders Thick and Foggy”: Mobility, Community, and Nation in a Northern Indigenous Region

Karen L. Marrero

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pp. 419-444

In 1838, a senator from the newly established state of Michigan received a letter from an anxious citizen. The nation’s borders, the writer advised, were “rather hairy or squally, thick and foggy, and perhaps some may say cloudy, stormy, and even tempestuous.” To the south, the country was troubled by the “Mexican affair” that gave rise to a “sleepless jealousy”; to the east, by the “boundary question”; to the west, by “Indian maneuvers”; and, to the north, at the Canadian border, by the so-called Patriots, “who create some...

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“Hindoo Marriage” and National Sovereignty in the Early-Nineteenth-Century United States

Brian Connolly

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pp. 445-478

In 1810, readers of the inaugural issue of the Philadelphia Repertory, a short-lived literary review, would have found—nestled among Treasury reports on American manufacturing, an open letter from Robert Fulton to the U.S. Congress concerning the navy’s use of torpedoes, diplomatic reports from the House of Representatives, various accounts of “foreign intelligence,” marriage and death lists, and a biography of Vladimir the Great—an account titled “Naptial Ceremonies among the Hindoos.” Quasi-ethnographic,...

Conference Program

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pp. 479-480

List of Contributors

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pp. 481-484

Index

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pp. 485-502