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The Contagious City Cover

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The Contagious City

The Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia

by Simon Finger

By the time William Penn was planning the colony that would come to be called Pennsylvania, with Philadelphia at its heart, Europeans on both sides of the ocean had long experience with the hazards of city life, disease the most terrifying among them. Drawing from those experiences, colonists hoped to create new urban forms that combined the commercial advantages of a seaport with the health benefits of the country. The Contagious City details how early Americans struggled to preserve their collective health against both the strange new perils of the colonial environment and the familiar dangers of the traditional city, through a period of profound transformation in both politics and medicine.

Philadelphia was the paramount example of this reforming tendency. Tracing the city's history from its founding on the banks of the Delaware River in 1682 to the yellow fever outbreak of 1793, Simon Finger emphasizes the importance of public health and population control in decisions made by the city's planners and leaders. He also shows that key figures in the city's history, including Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush, brought their keen interest in science and medicine into the political sphere. Throughout his account, Finger makes clear that medicine and politics were inextricably linked, and that both undergirded the debates over such crucial concerns as the city's location, its urban plan, its immigration policy, and its creation of institutions of public safety. In framing the history of Philadelphia through the imperatives of public health, The Contagious City offers a bold new vision of the urban history of colonial America.

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Contesting Slavery

The Politics of Bondage and Freedom in the New American Nation

The fifteen original essays in this collection examine the politics of slavery and antislavery in the traditionally overlooked period between the 1770s and the 1840s, challenging the standard narrative in which slavery played a peripheral role in regional and national politics.

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Creating the British Atlantic

Essays on Transplantation, Adaptation, and Continuity

Jack P. Greene

Set mostly within an expansive British imperial and transatlantic framework, this new selection of writings from the renowned historian Jack P. Greene draws on themes he has been developing throughout his distinguished career. In these essays Greene explores the efforts to impose Old World institutions, identities, and values upon the New World societies being created during the colonization process. He shows how transplanted Old World components—political, legal, and social—were adapted to meet the demands of new, economically viable, expansive cultural hearths. Greene argues that these transplantations and adaptations were of fundamental importance in the formation and evolution of the new American republic and the society it represented.

The scope of this work allows Greene to consider in depth numerous subjects, including the dynamics of colonization, the development and character of provincial identities, the relationship between new settler societies in America and the emerging British Empire, and the role of cultural power in social and political formation.

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Crossing the Sound

The Rise of Atlantic American Communities in Seventeenth-Century Eastern Long Island

Faren Siminoff

In seventeenth-century North America, communities on eastern Long Island were an integral part of the tumultuous and dynamic New England region and the larger Atlantic American world. They were created and modified by ideas and traditions that were inherent to life in Atlantic America and were not simply imported from Europe or established solely by settlers and imposed on native peoples.

In Crossing the Sound Faren R. Siminoff skillfully weaves new data with sophisticated theoretical analysis to demonstrate that the development of eastern Long Island was based more on complex interactions between settlers and native peoples than on clashes between the two groups. English and Dutch colonists did not merely transport traditional systems of land ownership, political organizations, and control of economic resources to the Northeast. Rather, both settlers and natives underwent a process of negotiation, resulting in a hybrid society that adapted and reworked new and old patterns of life, highlighting the lasting influence of native communities on the emerging American identity.

This compelling case study adds new layers to the history of the Atlantic world: it becomes a story without a dominant voice or community at its core, demonstrating that neither monolithic groups nor static interests prevailed in the region. Crossing the Sound offers a fresh interpretation of colonial relationships tracing social, cultural, and political exchanges between groups.

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Cultivating a Past

Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts

edited by Marla R. Miller

In 1659, a group of Puritan dissenters made their way north from Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, to a crook in the Connecticut River that cut through some of the most fertile land in New England. Three hundred and fifty years later, a group of distinguished scholars mark the founding of that town— Hadley, Massachusetts—with a book that explores a history as rich as that soil. Edited with an introduction by Marla R. Miller, Cultivating a Past brings together fifteen essays, some previously published and others new, that tell the story of Hadley from a variety of disciplinary vantage points. Archaeologists Elizabeth Chilton, Siobhan Hart, Christopher Donta, Edward Hood, and Rita Reinke investigate relations between Native and European communities, while historians Gregory Nobles, Alice Nash, and Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explore the social, cultural, and political past of this New England town. Musicologist Andrea Olmstead surveys the career of composer Roger Sessions, costume specialist Lynne Bassett interprets the wardrobes of the town’s seventeenth-century residents, Douglas Wilson investigates the connection between Hadley and the regicides William Goffe and Edward Whalley, and Martin Antonetti charts the course of a 1599 Bible alleged to have belonged Goffe. Taken together, the essays capture how men and women in this small community responded to the same challenges that have faced other New Englanders from the seventeenth century to the present. They also reveal how the town’s historical sense of itself evolved along the way, as stories of the alleged “Angel of Hadley,” of favorite sons Joseph Hooker and Clarence Hawkes, and of daughters Mary Webster and Elizabeth Porter Phelps contributed to a civic identity that celebrates strength of character.

The Culture and Commerce of the Early American Novel Cover

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The Culture and Commerce of the Early American Novel

Reading the Atlantic World-System

Stephen Shapiro

Taking his cue from Philadelphia-born novelist Charles Brockden Brown’s Annals of Europe and America, which contends that America is shaped most noticeably by the international struggle between Great Britain and France for control of the world trade market, Stephen Shapiro charts the advent, decline, and reinvigoration of the early American novel. That the American novel “sprang so unexpectedly into published existence during the 1790s” may be a reflection of the beginning of the end of Franco-British supremacy and of the power of a middle class riding the crest of a new world economic system. Shapiro’s world-systems approach is a relatively new methodology for literary studies, but it brings two particularly useful features to the table. First, it refines the conceptual frameworks for analyzing cultural and social history, such as the rise in sentimentalism, in relation to a long-wave economic history of global commerce; second, it fosters a new model for a comparative American studies across time. Rather than relying on contiguous time, a world-systems approach might compare the cultural production of one region to another at the same location within the recurring cycle in an economic reconfiguration. Shapiro offers a way of thinking about the causes for the emergence of the American novel that suggests a fresh approach to the paradigms shaping American studies.

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Dangerous Economies

Status and Commerce in Imperial New York

By Serena R. Zabin

Before the American Revolution, the people who lived in British North America were not just colonists; they were also imperial subjects. To think of eighteenth-century New Yorkers as Britons rather than incipient Americans allows us fresh investigations into their world. How was the British Empire experienced by those who lived at its margins? How did the mundane affairs of ordinary New Yorkers affect the culture at the center of an enormous commercial empire?

Dangerous Economies is a history of New York culture and commerce in the first two thirds of the eighteenth century, when Britain was just beginning to catch up with its imperial rivals, France and Spain. In that sparsely populated city on the fringe of an empire, enslaved Africans rubbed elbows with white indentured servants while the elite strove to maintain ties with European genteel culture. The transience of the city's people, goods, and fortunes created a notably fluid society in which establishing one's own status or verifying another's was a challenge. New York's shifting imperial identity created new avenues for success but also made success harder to define and demonstrate socially.

Such a mobile urban milieu was the ideal breeding ground for crime and conspiracy, which became all too evident in 1741, when thirty slaves were executed and more than seventy other people were deported after being found guilty—on dubious evidence—of plotting a revolt. This sort of violent outburst was the unforeseen but unsurprising result of the seething culture that existed at the margins of the British Empire.

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David Franks

Colonial Merchant

Mark Abbott Stern

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Deconstructing the Cherokee Nation

Town, Region, and Nation among Eighteenth-Century Cherokees

Tyler Boulware

This significant contribution to Cherokee studies examines the tribe’s life during the eighteenth century, up to the Removal. By revealing town loyalties and regional alliances, Tyler Boulware uncovers a persistent identification hierarchy among the colonial Cherokee.

Boulware aims to fill the gap in Cherokee historical studies by addressing two significant aspects of Cherokee identity: town and region. Though other factors mattered, these were arguably the most recognizable markers by which Cherokee peoples structured group identity and influenced their interactions with outside groups during the colonial era.

This volume focuses on the understudied importance of social and political ties that gradually connected villages and regions and slowly weakened the localism that dominated in earlier decades. It highlights the importance of borderland interactions to Cherokee political behavior and provides a nuanced investigation of the issue of Native American identity, bringing geographic relevance and distinctions to the topic.

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A Description of New Netherland

Adriaen van der Donck

This edition of A Description of New Netherland provides the first complete and accurate English-language translation of an essential first-hand account of the lives and world of Dutch colonists and northeastern Native communities in the seventeenth century. Adriaen van der Donck, a graduate of Leiden University in the 1640s, became the law enforcement officer for the Dutch patroonship of Rensselaerswijck, located along the upper Hudson River. His position enabled him to interact extensively with Dutch colonists and the local Algonquians and Iroquoians. An astute observer, detailed recorder, and accessible writer, Van der Donck was ideally situated to write about his experiences and the natural and cultural worlds around him.

Van der Donck’s Beschryvinge van Nieuw-Nederlant  was first published in 1655 and then expanded in 1656. An inaccurate and abbreviated English translation appeared in 1841 and was reprinted in 1968. This new volume features an accurate, polished translation by Diederik Willem Goedhuys and includes all the material from the original 1655 and 1656 editions. The result is an indispensable first-hand account with enduring value to historians, ethnohistorians, and anthropologists.

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