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Empires of God Cover

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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.

Enemyship Cover

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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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Faithful Bodies

Performing Religion and Race in the Puritan Atlantic

Heather Miyano Kopelson

In the seventeenth-century English Atlantic, religious beliefs and practices played a central role in creating racial identity. English Protestantism provided a vocabulary and structure to describe and maintain boundaries between insider and outsider. In this path-breaking study, Heather Miyano Kopelson peels back the layers of conflicting definitions of bodies and competing practices of faith in the puritan Atlantic, demonstrating how the categories of “white,” “black,” and “Indian” developed alongside religious boundaries between “Christian” and “heathen” and between “Catholic” and “Protestant.”

Faithful Bodies focuses on three communities of Protestant dissent in the Atlantic World: Bermuda, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. In this “puritan Atlantic,” religion determined insider and outsider status: at times Africans and Natives could belong as long as they embraced the Protestant faith, while Irish Catholics and English Quakers remained suspect. Colonists’ interactions with indigenous peoples of the Americas and with West Central Africans shaped their understandings of human difference and its acceptable boundaries. Prayer, religious instruction, sexual behavior, and other public and private acts became markers of whether or not blacks and Indians were sinning Christians or godless heathens. As slavery became law, transgressing people of color counted less and less as sinners in English puritans’ eyes, even as some of them made Christianity an integral part of their communities. As Kopelson shows, this transformation proceeded unevenly but inexorably during the long seventeenth century.

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Final Passages

The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807

Gregory E. O'Malley

Hundreds of thousands of captive Africans continued their journeys after the Middle Passage across the Atlantic. Colonial merchants purchased and then transshipped many of these captives to other colonies for resale. Drawing on a database of over seven thousand intercolonial slave trading voyages compiled from port records, newspapers, and merchant accounts, O'Malley identifies and quantifies the major routes of this intercolonial slave trade. He argues that such voyages were a crucial component in the development of slavery in the Caribbean and North America and that trade in the unfree led to experimentation with free trade between empires.

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First Founders

American Puritans and Puritanism in an Atlantic World

Francis J. Bremer

Francis J. Bremer has spent his entire career broadening our understanding of America's colonial founders. Now, in this eminently readable collection of biographies, Bremer brings us a surprisingly varied and dynamic group of characters who continue to guide and influence America today. With its cast of magistrates, women, clergy, merchants, and Native Americans, First Founders underscores the breadth of early American experience and the profound transatlantic roots of our country's forebears. Bremer succeeds in bringing little-known figures out of the shadows, while allowing us to appreciate better known figures in an entirely new light.

This is a truly fascinating look at the Puritans with keenly drawn portraits and the insight that only a lifetime of scholarship can achieve. It should become the standard introduction to the field. Written in the mold of Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers and Gordon Wood's Revolutionary Characters, the book will appeal to general readers, students, and scholars alike.

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Freedom's Debt

The Royal African Company and the Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1672-1752

William A. Pettigrew

In the years following the Glorious Revolution, independent slave traders challenged the charter of the Royal African Company by asserting their natural rights as Britons to trade freely in enslaved Africans. In this comprehensive history of the rise and fall of the RAC, William A. Pettigrew grounds the transatlantic slave trade in politics, not economic forces, analyzing the ideological arguments of the RAC and its opponents in Parliament and in public debate. Ultimately, Pettigrew powerfully reasons that freedom became the rallying cry for those who wished to participate in the slave trade and therefore bolstered the expansion of the largest intercontinental forced migration in history.

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Freshwater Passages

The Trade and Travels of Peter Pond

David Chapin

Peter Pond, a fur trader, explorer, and amateur mapmaker, spent his life ranging much farther afield than Milford, Connecticut, where he was born and died (1740–1807). He traded around the Great Lakes, on the Mississippi and the Minnesota Rivers, and in the Canadian Northwest and is also well known as a partner in Montreal’s North West Company and as mentor to Alexander Mackenzie, who journeyed down the Mackenzie River to the Arctic Sea. Knowing eighteenth-century North America on a scale that few others did, Pond drew some of the earliest maps of western Canada.


In this meticulous biography, David Chapin presents Pond’s life as part of a generation of traders who came of age between the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolution. Pond’s encounters with a plethora of distinct Native cultures over the course of his career shaped his life and defined his career. Whereas previous studies have caricatured Pond as quarrelsome and explosive, Chapin presents him as an intellectually curious, proud, talented, and ambitious man, living in a world that could often be quite violent. Chapin draws together a wide range of sources and information in presenting a deeper, more multidimensional portrait and understanding of Pond than hitherto has been available.



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