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Early Modern Virginia Cover

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Early Modern Virginia

Reconsidering the Old Dominion

By highlighting emerging scholarship on neglected topics, this collection of original essays begins to rewrite the history of Virginia, the colonial Chesapeake, and early America, while setting a research agenda for the next decade and beyond.

The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763 Cover

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The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713-1763

Paul W. Mapp

A truly continental history in both its geographic and political scope, ###The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire, 1713@-1763# investigates eighteenth-century diplomacy involving North America and links geographic ignorance about the American West to Europeans' grand geopolitical designs. Breaking from scholars' traditional focus on the Atlantic world, Paul W. Mapp demonstrates the centrality of hitherto understudied western regions to early American history and shows that a Pacific focus is crucial to understanding the causes, course, and consequences of the Seven Years' War.

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Embodied History

The Lives of the Poor in Early Philadelphia

By Simon P. Newman

Offering a new view into the lives and experiences of plebeian men and women, and a provocative exploration of the history of the body itself, Embodied History approaches the bodies of the poor in early national Philadelphia as texts to be read and interpreted. Through a close examination of accounts of the bodies that appeared in runaway advertisements and in seafaring, almshouse, prison, hospital, and burial records, Simon P. Newman uses physical details to paint an entirely different portrait of the material circumstances of the poor, examining the ways they became categorized in the emerging social hierarchy, and how they sought to resist such categorization.

The Philadelphians examined in Embodied History were members of the lower sort, a social category that emerged in the early modern period from the belief in a society composed of natural orders and ranks. The population of the urban poor grew rapidly after the American Revolution, and middling and elite citizens were frightened by these poor bodies, from the tattooed professional sailor, to the African American runaway with a highly personalized hairstyle and distinctive mannerisms and gestures, to the vigorous and lively Irish prostitute who refused to be cowed by the condemnation of others, to the hardworking laboring family whose weakened and diseased children played and sang in the alleys. In a new republic premised on liberty and equality, the rapidly increasing ranks of unruly bodies threatened to overwhelm traditional notions of deference, hierarchy, and order.

Affluent Philadelphians responded by employing runaway advertisements, the almshouse, the prison, and to a lesser degree the hospital to incarcerate, control, and correct poor bodies and transform them into well-dressed, hardworking, deferential members of society. Embodied History is a compelling and accessible exploration of how poverty was etched and how power and discipline were enacted upon the bodies of the poor, as well as how the poor attempted to transcend such discipline through assertions of bodily agency and liberty.

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Empire at the Periphery

British Colonists, Anglo-Dutch Trade, and the Development of the British Atlantic, 1621-1713

Christian Koot

Throughout history the British Atlantic has often been depicted as a series of well-ordered colonial ports that functioned as nodes of Atlantic shipping, where orderliness reflected the effectiveness of the regulatory apparatus constructed to contain Atlantic commerce. Colonial ports were governable places where British vessels, and only British vessels, were to deliver English goods in exchange for colonial produce. Yet behind these sanitized depictions lay another story, one about the porousness of commercial regulation, the informality and persistent illegality of exchanges in the British Empire, and the endurance of a culture of cross-national cooperation in the Atlantic that had been forged in the first decades of European settlement and still resonated a century later.

In Empire at the Periphery, Christian J. Koot examines the networks that connected British settlers in New York and the Caribbean and Dutch traders in the Netherlands and in the Dutch colonies in North America and the Caribbean, demonstrating that these interimperial relationships formed a core part of commercial activity in the early Atlantic World, operating alongside British trade. Koot provides unique consideration of how local circumstances shaped imperial development, reminding us that empires consisted not only of elites dictating imperial growth from world capitals, but also of ordinary settlers in far-flung colonial outposts, who often had more in common with—and a greater reliance on—people from foreign empires who shared their experiences of living at the edge of a fragile, transitional world.

Part of the series Early American Places

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The Empire Reformed

English America in the Age of the Glorious Revolution

By Owen Stanwood

The Empire Reformed tells the story of a forgotten revolution in English America—a revolution that created not a new nation but a new kind of transatlantic empire. During the seventeenth century England's American colonies were remote, disorganized outposts with reputations for political turmoil. Colonial subjects rebelled against authority with stunning regularity, culminating in uprisings that toppled colonial governments in the wake of England's "Glorious Revolution" in 1688-89. Nonetheless, after this crisis authorities in both England and the colonies successfully rebuilt the empire, providing the cornerstone of the great global power that would conquer much of the continent over the following century.

In The Empire Reformed historian Owen Stanwood illustrates this transition in a narrative that moves from Boston to London to Barbados and Bermuda. He demonstrates not only how the colonies fit into the empire but how imperial politics reflected—and influenced—changing power dynamics in England and Europe during the late 1600s. In particular, Stanwood reveals how the language of Catholic conspiracies informed most colonists' understanding of politics, serving first as the catalyst of rebellions against authority, but later as an ideological glue that held the disparate empire together. In the wake of the Glorious Revolution imperial leaders and colonial subjects began to define the British empire as a potent Protestant union that would save America from the designs of French "papists" and their "savage" Indian allies. By the eighteenth century, British Americans had become proud imperialists, committed to the project of expanding British power in the Americas.

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Empires of God

Religious Encounters in the Early Modern Atlantic

Edited by Linda Gregerson and Susan Juster

Religion and empire were inseparable forces in the early modern Atlantic world. Religious passions and conflicts drove much of the expansionist energy of post-Reformation Europe, providing both a rationale and a practical mode of organizing the dispersal and resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people from the Old World to the New World. Exhortations to conquer new peoples were the lingua franca of Western imperialism, and men like the mystically inclined Christopher Columbus were genuinely inspired to risk their lives and their fortunes to bring the gospel to the Americas. And in the thousands of religious refugees seeking asylum from the vicious wars of religion that tore the continent apart in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, these visionary explorers found a ready pool of migrants—English Puritans and Quakers, French Huguenots, German Moravians, Scots-Irish Presbyterians—equally willing to risk life and limb for a chance to worship God in their own way.

Focusing on the formative period of European exploration, settlement, and conquest in the Americas, from roughly 1500 to 1760, Empires of God brings together historians and literary scholars of the English, French, and Spanish Americas around a common set of questions: How did religious communities and beliefs create empires, and how did imperial structures transform New World religions? How did Europeans and Native Americans make sense of each other's spiritual systems, and what acts of linguistic and cultural transition did this entail? What was the role of violence in New World religious encounters? Together, the essays collected here demonstrate the power of religious ideas and narratives to create kingdoms both imagined and real.

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Enemyship

Jeremy Engels

The Declaration of Independence is usually celebrated as a radical document that inspired revolution in the English colonies, in France, and elsewhere. In Enemyship, however, Jeremy Engels views the Declaration as a rhetorical strategy that outlined wildly effective arguments justifying revolution against a colonial authority--- and then threatened political stability once independence was finally achieved. 
     Enemyship examines what happened during the latter years of the Revolutionary War and in the immediate post-Revolutionary period, when the rhetorics and energies of revolution began to seem problematic to many wealthy and powerful Americans.
     To mitigate this threat, says Engles, the founders of the United States deployed the rhetorics of what he calls "enemyship," calling upon Americans to unite in opposition to their shared national enemies.

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Envisioning an English Empire

Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World

Edited by Robert Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet

Envisioning an English Empire brings together leading historians and literary scholars to reframe our understanding of the history of Jamestown and the literature of empire that emerged from it.

The founding of an English colony at Jamestown in 1607 was no isolated incident. It was one event among many in the long development of the North Atlantic world. Ireland, Spain, Morocco, West Africa, Turkey, and the Native federations of North America all played a role alongside the Virginia Company in London and English settlers on the ground. English proponents of empire responded as much to fears of Spanish ambitions, fantasies about discovering gold, and dreams of easily dominating the region's Natives as they did to the grim lessons of earlier, failed outposts in North America. Developments in trade and technology, in diplomatic relations and ideology, in agricultural practices and property relations were as crucial as the self-consciously combative adventurers who initially set sail for the Chesapeake.

The collection begins by exploring the initial encounters between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan Indians and the relations of both these groups with London. It goes on to examine the international context that defined English colonialism in this period—relations with Spain, the Turks, North Africa, and Ireland. Finally, it turns to the ways both settlers and Natives were transformed over the course of the seventeenth century, considering conflicts and exchanges over food, property, slavery, and colonial identity.

What results is a multifaceted view of the history of Jamestown up to the time of Bacon's Rebellion and its aftermath. The writings of Captain John Smith, the experience of Powhatans in London, the letters home of a disappointed indentured servant, the Moroccans, Turks, and Indians of the English stage, the ethnographic texts of early explorers, and many other phenomena all come into focus as examples of the envisioning of a nascent empire and the Atlantic world in which it found a hold.

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Errands into the Metropolis

New England Dissidents in Revolutionary London

Jonathan Beecher Field

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.

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Every Home a Distillery

Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake

Sarah Hand Meacham

In this original examination of alcohol production in early America, Sarah Hand Meacham uncovers the crucial role women played in cidering and distilling in the colonial Chesapeake. Her fascinating story is one defined by gender, class, technology, and changing patterns of production. Alcohol was essential to colonial life; the region’s water was foul, milk was generally unavailable, and tea and coffee were far too expensive for all but the very wealthy. Colonists used alcohol to drink, in cooking, as a cleaning agent, in beauty products, and as medicine. Meacham finds that the distillation and brewing of alcohol for these purposes traditionally fell to women. Advice and recipes in such guidebooks as The Accomplisht Ladys Delight demonstrate that women were the main producers of alcohol until the middle of the 18th century. Men, mostly small planters, then supplanted women, using new and cheaper technologies to make the region’s cider, ale, and whiskey. Meacham compares alcohol production in the Chesapeake with that in New England, the middle colonies, and Europe, finding the Chesapeake to be far more isolated than even the other American colonies. She explains how home brewers used new technologies, such as small alembic stills and inexpensive cider pressing machines, in their alcoholic enterprises. She links the importation of coffee and tea in America to the temperance movement, showing how the wealthy became concerned with alcohol consumption only after they found something less inebriating to drink. Taking a few pages from contemporary guidebooks, Every Home a Distillery includes samples of historic recipes and instructions on how to make alcoholic beverages. American historians will find this study both enlightening and surprising.

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