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Abraham in Arms

War and Gender in Colonial New England

By Ann M. Little

In 1678, the Puritan minister Samuel Nowell preached a sermon he called "Abraham in Arms," in which he urged his listeners to remember that "Hence it is no wayes unbecoming a Christian to learn to be a Souldier." The title of Nowell's sermon was well chosen. Abraham of the Old Testament resonated deeply with New England men, as he embodied the ideal of the householder-patriarch, at once obedient to God and the unquestioned leader of his family and his people in war and peace. Yet enemies challenged Abraham's authority in New England: Indians threatened the safety of his household, subordinates in his own family threatened his status, and wives and daughters taken into captivity became baptized Catholics, married French or Indian men, and refused to return to New England.

In a bold reinterpretation of the years between 1620 and 1763, Ann M. Little reveals how ideas about gender and family life were central to the ways people in colonial New England, and their neighbors in New France and Indian Country, described their experiences in cross-cultural warfare. Little argues that English, French, and Indian people had broadly similar ideas about gender and authority. Because they understood both warfare and political power to be intertwined expressions of manhood, colonial warfare may be understood as a contest of different styles of masculinity. For New England men, what had once been a masculinity based on household headship, Christian piety, and the duty to protect family and faith became one built around the more abstract notions of British nationalism, anti-Catholicism, and soldiering for the Empire.

Based on archival research in both French and English sources, court records, captivity narratives, and the private correspondence of ministers and war officials, Abraham in Arms reconstructs colonial New England as a frontier borderland in which religious, cultural, linguistic, and geographic boundaries were permeable, fragile, and contested by Europeans and Indians alike.

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Adapting to a New World

English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake

James Horn

Often compared unfavorably with colonial New England, the early Chesapeake has been portrayed as irreligious, unstable, and violent. In this important new study, James Horn challenges this conventional view and looks across the Atlantic to assess the enduring influence of English attitudes, values, and behavior on the social and cultural evolution of the early Chesapeake. Using detailed local and regional studies to compare everyday life in English provincial society and the emergent societies of the Chesapeake Bay, Horn provides a richly textured picture of the immigrants' Old World backgrounds and their adjustment to life in America. Until the end of the seventeenth century, most settlers in Virginia and Maryland were born and raised in England, a factor of enormous consequence for social development in the two colonies. By stressing the vital social and cultural connections between England and the Chesapeake during this period, Horn places the development of early America in the context of a vibrant Anglophone transatlantic world and suggests a fundamental reinterpretation of New World society.

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African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry

The Atlantic World and the Gullah Geechee

Philip Morgan

The lush landscape and subtropical climate of the Georgia coast only enhance the air of mystery enveloping some of its inhabitants—people who owe, in some ways, as much to Africa as to America. As the ten previously unpublished essays in this volume examine various aspects of Georgia lowcountry life, they often engage a central dilemma: the region’s physical and cultural remoteness helps to preserve the venerable ways of its black inhabitants, but it can also marginalize the vital place of lowcountry blacks in the Atlantic World.

The essays, which range in coverage from the founding of the Georgia colony in the early 1700s through the present era, explore a range of topics, all within the larger context of the Atlantic world. Included are essays on the double-edged freedom that the American Revolution made possible to black women, the lowcountry as site of the largest gathering of African Muslims in early North America, and the coexisting worlds of Christianity and conjuring in coastal Georgia and the links (with variations) to African practices.

A number of fascinating, memorable characters emerge, among them the defiant Mustapha Shaw, who felt entitled to land on Ossabaw Island and resisted its seizure by whites only to become embroiled in struggles with other blacks; Betty, the slave woman who, in the spirit of the American Revolution, presented a “list of grievances” to her master; and S’Quash, the Arabic-speaking Muslim who arrived on one of the last legal transatlantic slavers and became a head man on a North Carolina plantation.

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The Allegheny Frontier

West Virginia Beginnings, 1730--1830

Otis K. Rice

The Allegheny frontier, comprising the mountainous area of present-day West Virginia and bordering states, is studied here in a broad context of frontier history and national development. The region was significant in the great American westward movement, but Otis K. Rice seeks also to call attention to the impact of the frontier experience upon the later history of the Allegheny Highlands. He sees a relationship between its prolonged frontier experience and the problems of Appalachia in the twentieth century.

Through an intensive study of the social, economic, and political developments in pioneer West Virginia, Rice shows that during the period 1730--1830 some of the most significant features of West Virginia life and thought were established. There also appeared evidences of arrested development, which contrasted sharply with the expansiveness, ebullience, and optimism commonly associated with the American frontier. In this period customs, manners, and folkways associated with the conquest of the wilderness to root and became characteristic of the mountainous region well into the twentieth century. During this pioneer period, problems also took root that continue to be associated with the region, such as poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of economic development, and problematic education.

Since the West Virginia frontier played an important role in the westward thrust of migration through the Alleghenies, Rice also provides some account of the role of West Virginia in the French and Indian War, eighteenth-century land speculations, the Revolutionary War, and national events after the establishment of the federal government in 1789.

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American Confluence

The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State

Stephen Aron

In the heart of North America, the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers come together, uniting waters from west, north, and east on a journey to the south. This is the region that Stephen Aron calls the American Confluence. Aron's innovative book examines the history of that region -- a home to the Osage, a colony exploited by the French, a new frontier explored by Lewis and Clark -- and focuses on the region's transition from a place of overlapping borderlands to one of oppositional border states. American Confluence is a lively account that will delight both the amateur and professional historian.

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American Curiosity

Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World

Susan Scott Parrish

Colonial America presented a new world of natural curiosities for settlers as well as the London-based scientific community. In American Curiosity, Susan Scott Parrish examines how various peoples in the British colonies understood and represented the natural world around them from the late sixteenth century through the eighteenth. Parrish shows how scientific knowledge about America, rather than flowing strictly from metropole to colony, emerged from a horizontal exchange of information across the Atlantic.

Delving into an understudied archive of letters, Parrish uncovers early descriptions of American natural phenomena as well as clues to how people in the colonies construed their own identities through the natural world. Although hierarchies of gender, class, institutional learning, place of birth or residence, and race persisted within the natural history community, the contributions of any participant were considered valuable as long as they supplied novel data or specimens from the American side of the Atlantic. Thus Anglo-American nonelites, women, Indians, and enslaved Africans all played crucial roles in gathering and relaying new information to Europe.

Recognizing a significant tradition of nature writing and representation in North America well before the Transcendentalists, American Curiosity also enlarges our notions of the scientific Enlightenment by looking beyond European centers to find a socially inclusive American base to a true transatlantic expansion of knowledge.

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Anglicizing America

Empire, Revolution, Republic

Edited by Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, Andrew Shankman, and David J. Silverman

The thirteen mainland colonies of early America were arguably never more British than on the eve of their War of Independence from Britain. Though home to settlers of diverse national and cultural backgrounds, colonial America gradually became more like Britain in its political and judicial systems, material culture, economies, religious systems, and engagements with the empire. At the same time and by the same process, these politically distinct and geographically distant colonies forged a shared cultural identity—one that would bind them together as a nation during the Revolution.

Anglicizing America revisits the theory of Anglicization, considering its application to the history of the Atlantic world, from Britain to the Caribbean to the western wildernesses, at key moments before, during, and after the American Revolution. Ten essays by senior historians trace the complex processes by which global forces, local economies, and individual motives interacted to reinforce a more centralized and unified social movement. They examine the ways English ideas about labor influenced plantation slavery, how Great Britain's imperial aspirations shaped American militarization, the influence of religious tolerance on political unity, and how Americans' relationship to Great Britain after the war impacted the early republic's naval and taxation policies. As a whole, Anglicizing America offers a compelling framework for explaining the complex processes at work in the western hemisphere during the age of revolutions.

Contributors: Denver Brunsman, William Howard Carter, Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, Anthony M. Joseph, Simon P. Newman, Geoffrey Plank, Nancy L. Rhoden, Andrew Shankman, Jeremy A. Stern, David J. Silverman.

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Anglo-Native Virginia

Trade, Conversion, and Indian Slavery in the Old Dominion, 1646-1722

Kristalyn Marie Shefveland

<p>The 1646 Treaty of Peace with Necotowance in Virginia fundamentally changed relationships between Native Americans and the English settlers of Virginia. Virginians were unique in their interaction with Native peoples in part because of their tributary system, a practice that became codified with the 1646 Treaty of Peace with the former Powhatan Confederacy. This book traces English establishment of tributary status for its Native allies and the phrasing and concept offoreign Indians for non-allied Natives.</p><p>Kristalyn Marie Shefveland examines Anglo-Indian interactions through the conception of Native tributaries to the Virginia colony, with particular emphasis on the colonial and tributary and foreign Native settlements of the Piedmont and southwestern Coastal Plain between 1646 and 1722. Shefveland contends that this region played a central role in the larger narrative of the colonial plantation South and of the Indian experience in the Southeast. The transformation of Virginia from fledgling colony on the outpost of empire to a frontier model of English society was influenced significantly by interactions between the colonizers and Natives.</p><p>Many of the powerful families that emerged to dominate Virginia’s history gained their start through Native trade and diplomacy in this transformative period, particularly through the Byrd family, whose members emerged as keyfigures in trade, slavery, diplomacy, and conversion. By the second half of the seventeenth century, the transformation of Virginia set forth political, economic, racial, and class distinctions that typified the state for the next three centuries.</p>

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Another's Country

Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on Cultural Interactions in the Southern Colonies

Edited by J.W. Joseph and Martha Zierden, with contributions from Ellen Shlasko,

The 18th-century South was a true melting pot, bringing together colonists from England, France, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and other locations, in addition to African slaves—all of whom shared in the experiences of adapting to a new environment and interacting with American Indians. The shared process of immigration, adaptation, and creolization resulted in a rich and diverse historic mosaic of cultures.


The cultural encounters of these groups of settlers would ultimately define the meaning of life in the 19th-century South. The much-studied plantation society of that era and the Confederacy that sprang from it have become the enduring identities of the South. A full understanding of southern history is not possible, however, without first understanding the intermingling and interactions of the region's 18th-century settlers. In the essays collected here, some of the South's leading historical archaeologists examine various aspects of the colonial experience, attempting to understand how cultural identity was expressed, why cultural diversity was eventually replaced by a common identity, and how the various cultures intermeshed.


Written in accessible language, this book will be valuable to archaeologists and non-archaeologists alike. Cultural, architectural, and military historians, cultural anthropologists, geographers, genealogists, and others interested in the cultural legacy of the South will find much of value in this book.




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In the Southeast, where the written record goes back five hundred years, historical archaeology is a subdivision of history as well as anthropology, for the compleat historical archaeologist mines all sources. The contributors to this volume on the colonial Carolinas and Georgia ask historical questions, provide ample historical contexts, and present their findings in the common language of scholarship.—The Journal of Southern History

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An Anxious Pursuit

Agricultural Innovation and Modernity in the Lower South, 1730-1815

Joyce E. Chaplin

In An Anxious Pursuit, Joyce Chaplin examines the impact of the Enlightenment ideas of progress on the lives and minds of American planters in the colonial Lower South. She focuses particularly on the influence of Scottish notions of progress, tracing the extent to which planters in South Carolina, Georgia, and British East Florida perceived themselves as a modern, improving people. She reads developments in agricultural practice as indices of planters' desire for progress, and she demonstrates the central role played by slavery in their pursuit of modern life. By linking behavior and ideas, Chaplin has produced a work of cultural history that unites intellectual, social, and economic history.

Using public records as well as planters' and farmers' private papers, Chaplin examines innovations in rice, indigo, and cotton cultivation as a window through which to see planters' pursuit of a modern future. She demonstrates that planters actively sought to improve their society and economy even as they suffered a pervasive anxiety about the corrupting impact of progress and commerce. The basis for their accomplishments and the root of their anxieties, according the Chaplin, were the same: race-based chattel slavery. Slaves provied the labor necessary to attain planters' vision of the modern, but the institution ultimately limited the Lower South's ability to compete in the contemporary world.

Indeed, whites continued to wonder whether their innovations, some of them defied by slaves, truly improved the region. Chaplin argues that these apprehensions prefigured the antimodern stance of the antebellum period, but she contends that they were as much a reflection of the doubt inherent in theories of progress as an outright rejection of those ideas.

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