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Baptist Community in Early America
The American Baptist church originated in British North America as "little tabernacles in the wilderness," isolated seventeenth-century congregations that had grown into a mainstream denomination by the early nineteenth century. The common view of this transition casts these evangelicals as radicals who were on society's fringe during the colonial period, only to become conservative by the nineteenth century after they had achieved social acceptance. In Bodies of Belief, Janet Moore Lindman challenges this accepted, if oversimplified, characterization of early American Baptists by arguing that they struggled with issues of equity and power within the church during the colonial period, and that evangelical religion was both radical and conservative from its beginning.
Bodies of Belief traces the paradoxical evolution of the Baptist religion, including the struggles of early settlement and church building, the varieties of theology and worship, and the multivalent meaning of conversation, ritual, and godly community. Lindman demonstrates how the body—both individual bodies and the collective body of believers—was central to the Baptist definition and maintenance of faith. The Baptist religion galvanized believers through a visceral transformation of religious conversion, which was then maintained through ritual. Yet the Baptist body was differentiated by race and gender. Although all believers were spiritual equals, white men remained at the top of a rigid church hierarchy. Drawing on church books, associational records, diaries, letters, sermon notes, ministerial accounts, and early histories from the mid-Atlantic and the Chesapeake as well as New England, this innovative study of early American religion asserts that the Baptist religion was predicated simultaneously on a radical spiritual ethos and a conservative social outlook.
Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830
"In Breaking The Bonds, Merril Smith establishes the ambitious goal of determining 'what kind of problems arose in troubled marriages' and of analyzing 'how men and women coped with marital discord.' . . . To accomplish this, Smith studied hundreds of divorce petitions, other legal documents, newspapers, almshouse dockets, and prescriptive literature. She concludes that, as in the present day, married couples fought and parted over sex, money, and abuse."
"A richly textured study. . . With an eye to cross-class and cross-race representation, Smith utilizes diverse sources, including memoirs and diaries, correspondence, probate records, newspaper advertisements, depositions and petitions for divorce, and various moral reform and social regulatory organization records. . . . A brave attempt to write a description of 'the development of the Puritan concept of spirtiual growth.' . . . Gracefully written. . . provides specific new insights into a too-neglected area of early republican domestic politics."
William and Mary Quarterly
The late eighteenth century marked a period of changing expectations about marriage: companionship came to coexist as a norm alongside older patriarchal standards, men and women began to see their roles in more disparate ways, expectations about the satisfaction of marriage grew, and gender distinctions between husbands and wives became more complicated. Marital strife was an inevitable outcome of these changing expectations. The difficulties that rose, including abuse, a lack of sexual communication, and domestic violence (frequently brought on by alcholism) differ little from those with which couples struggle today.
Breaking The Bonds is an imaginative and original account that brings to light a strongly communicative world in which neighbors knew of, dinscussed, and even came to the aid of those locked in unhappy marriages.
British-Native American Relations in the Colonial Southeast
The arrival of English settlers in the American Southeast in 1670 brought the British and the Native Americans into contact both with foreign peoples and with unfamiliar gender systems. In a region in which the balance of power between multiple players remained uncertain for many decades, British and Native leaders turned to concepts of gender and family to create new diplomatic norms to govern interactions as they sought to construct and maintain working relationships. In Brothers Born of One Mother, Michelle LeMaster addresses the question of how differing cultural attitudes toward gender influenced Anglo-Indian relations in the colonial Southeast.
As one of the most fundamental aspects of culture, gender had significant implications for military and diplomatic relations. Understood differently by each side, notions of kinship and proper masculine and feminine behavior wielded during negotiations had the power to either strengthen or disrupt alliances. The collision of different cultural expectations of masculine behavior and men's relationships to and responsibilities for women and children became significant areas of discussion and contention. Native American and British leaders frequently discussed issues of manhood (especially in the context of warfare), the treatment of women and children, and intermarriage. Women themselves could either enhance or upset relations through their active participation in diplomacy, war, and trade.
Leaders invoked gendered metaphors and fictive kinship relations in their discussions, and by evaluating their rhetoric, Brothers Born of One Mother investigates the intercultural conversations about gender that shaped Anglo-Indian diplomacy. LeMaster's study contributes importantly to historians’ understanding of the role of cultural differences in intergroup contact and investigates how gender became part of the ideology of European conquest in North America, providing a unique window into the process of colonization in America.
Town and Society in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic World
In the colonial era, Charleston, South Carolina, was the largest city in the American South. From 1700 to 1775 its growth rate was exceeded in the New World only by that of Philadelphia. The first comprehensive study of this crucial colonial center, Building Charleston charts the rise of one of early America's great cities, revealing its importance to the evolution of both South Carolina and the British Atlantic world during the eighteenth century.
Drawing on a mix of historical and anthropological methods, Beasley covers such topics as church architecture, pew seating customs, marriage, baptism, communion, and funerals. Colonists created an environment in sacred time and space that framed their rituals for maximum social impact, and they asserted privilege and power by privatizing some rituals and by meting out access to rituals to people of color. Throughout, Beasley is sensitive to how this culture of worship changed as each colony reacted to its own political, environmental, and demographic circumstances across time. Local factors influencing who partook in Christian rituals and how, when, and where these rituals took place could include the structure of the Anglican Church, which tended to be less hierarchical and centralized than at home in England; the level of tensions between Anglicans and Protestants; the persistence of African religious beliefs; and colonists' attitudes toward free persons of color and elite slaves.
This book enriches an existing historiography that neglects the cultural power of liturgical Christianity in the early South and the British Caribbean and offers a new account of the translation of early modern English Christianity to early America.
Manhood and the Creation of the United States
In 1755 Benjamin Franklin observed "a man without a wife is but half a man" and since then historians have taken Franklin at his word. In Citizen Bachelors, John Gilbert McCurdy demonstrates that Franklin's comment was only one side of a much larger conversation. Early Americans vigorously debated the status of unmarried men and this debate was instrumental in the creation of American citizenship.
In a sweeping examination of the bachelor in early America, McCurdy fleshes out a largely unexamined aspect of the history of gender. Single men were instrumental to the settlement of the United States and for most of the seventeenth century their presence was not particularly problematic. However, as the colonies matured, Americans began to worry about those who stood outside the family. Lawmakers began to limit the freedoms of single men with laws requiring bachelors to pay higher taxes and face harsher penalties for crimes than married men, while moralists began to decry the sexual immorality of unmarried men. But many resisted these new tactics, including single men who reveled in their hedonistic reputations by delighting in sexual horseplay without marital consequences.
At the time of the Revolution, these conflicting views were confronted head-on. As the incipient American state needed men to stand at the forefront of the fight for independence, the bachelor came to be seen as possessing just the sort of political, social, and economic agency associated with citizenship in a democratic society. When the war was won, these men demanded an end to their unequal treatment, sometimes grudgingly, and the citizen bachelor was welcomed into American society.
Drawing on sources as varied as laws, diaries, political manifestos, and newspapers, McCurdy shows that in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the bachelor was a simultaneously suspicious and desirable figure: suspicious because he was not tethered to family and household obligations yet desirable because he was free to study, devote himself to political office, and fight and die in battle. He suggests that this dichotomy remains with us to this day and thus it is in early America that we find the origins of the modern-day identity of the bachelor as a symbol of masculine independence. McCurdy also observes that by extending citizenship to bachelors, the founders affirmed their commitment to individual freedom, a commitment that has subsequently come to define the very essence of American citizenship.
A Study of German-American Broadsides and Their Meaning for Germans in North America, 1730–1830
In Citizens in a Strange Land, Hermann Wellenreuther examines the broadsides—printed single sheets—produced by the Pennsylvania German community. These broadsides covered topics ranging from Local Controversies and Politics to Devotional Poems and Hymns. Each one is the product of and reaction to a particular historical setting. To understand them fully, Wellenreuther systematically reconstructs Pennsylvania’s print culture, the material conditions of life, the problems German settlers faced, the demands their communities addressed to the individual settler, the complications to be overcome, and the needs to be satisfied. He shows how these broadsides provided advice, projections, and comment on phases of life from the cradle to grave.
Material Exchanges in the Early Modern Atlantic World
In the early modern age more people traveled farther than at any earlier time in human history. Many returned home with stories of distant lands and at least some of the objects they acquired during their journeys. And those who did not travel eagerly acquired wondrous materials that arrived from faraway places. Objects traveled various routes—personal, imperial, missionary, or trade—and moved not only across space but also across cultures.
Histories of the early modern global culture of collecting have focused for the most part on European Wunderkammern, or "cabinets of curiosities." But the passion for acquiring unfamiliar items rippled across many lands. The court in Java marveled at, collected, and displayed myriad goods brought through its halls. African princes traded captured members of other African groups so they could get the newest kinds of cloth produced in Europe. Native Americans sought colored glass beads made in Europe, often trading them to other indigenous groups. Items changed hands and crossed cultural boundaries frequently, often gaining new and valuable meanings in the process. An object that might have seemed mundane in some cultures could become a target of veneration in another.
The fourteen essays in Collecting Across Cultures represent new work by an international group of historians, art historians, and historians of science. Each author explores a specific aspect of the cross-cultural history of collecting and display from the dawn of the sixteenth century to the early decades of the nineteenth century. As the essays attest, an examination of early modern collecting in cross-cultural contexts sheds light on the creative and complicated ways in which objects in collections served to create knowledge—some factual, some fictional—about distant peoples in an increasingly transnational world.
South Carolina's Frontiers in the Era of the Yamasee War, 1680-1730
Drawing on a diverse range of colonial records, A Colonial Complex builds on recent developments in frontier history and depicts the Yamasee War as part of a colonial complex: a broad pattern of exchange that linked the Southeast’s Indian, African, and European cultures throughout the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the first detailed study of this crucial conflict, Steven J. Oatis shows the effects of South Carolina’s aggressive imperial expansion on the issues of frontier trade, combat, and diplomacy, viewing them not only from the perspective of English South Carolinians but also from that of the societies that dealt with the South Carolinians both directly and indirectly. Readers will find new information on the deerskin trade, the Indian slave trade, imperial rivalry, frontier military strategy, and the major transformations in the cultural landscape of the early colonial Southeast.
Sensory Worlds of the Early Americas