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Governed by a Spirit of Opposition Cover

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Governed by a Spirit of Opposition

The Origins of American Political Practice in Colonial Philadelphia

Jessica Choppin Roney

During the colonial era, ordinary Philadelphians played an unusually active role in political life. Because the city lacked a strong central government, private individuals working in civic associations of their own making shouldered broad responsibility for education, poverty relief, church governance, fire protection, and even taxation and military defense. These organizations dramatically expanded the opportunities for white men—rich and poor alike—to shape policies that immediately affected their communities and their own lives. In Governed by a Spirit of Opposition, Jessica Choppin Roney explains how allowing people from all walks of life to participate in political activities amplified citizen access and democratic governance. Merchants, shopkeepers, carpenters, brewers, shoemakers, and silversmiths served as churchwardens, street commissioners, constables, and Overseers of the Poor. They volunteered to fight fires, organized relief for the needy, contributed money toward the care of the sick, took up arms in defense of the community, raised capital for local lending, and even interjected themselves in Indian diplomacy. Ultimately, Roney suggests, popular participation in charity, schools, the militia, and informal banks empowered people in this critically important colonial city to overthrow the existing government in 1776 and re-envision the parameters of democratic participation. Governed by a Spirit of Opposition argues that the American Revolution did not occasion the birth of commonplace political activity or of an American culture of voluntary association. Rather, the Revolution built upon a long history of civic engagement and a complicated relationship between the practice of majority-rule and exclusionary policy-making on the part of appointed and self-selected constituencies.

Harlots, Hussies, and Poor Unfortunate Women Cover

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Harlots, Hussies, and Poor Unfortunate Women

Crime, Transportation, and the Servitude of Female Convicts, 1718-1783

In Harlots, Hussies, and Poor Unfortunate Women, Edith M. Ziegler recounts the history of British convict women involuntarily transported to Maryland in the eighteenth century.

Great Britain’s forced transportation of convicts to colonial Australia is well known. Less widely known is Britain’s earlier program of sending convicts—including women—to North America. Many of these women were assigned as servants in Maryland. Titled using epithets that their colonial masters applied to the convicts, Edith M. Ziegler’s Harlots, Hussies and Poor Unfortunate Women examines the lives of this intriguing subset of American immigrants.

Basing much of her powerful narrative on the experiences of actual women, Ziegler restores individual faces to women stripped of their basic freedoms. She begins by vividly invoking the social conditions of eighteenth-century Britain, which suffered high levels of criminal activity, frequently petty thievery. Contemporary readers and scholars will be fascinated by Ziegler’s explanation of how gender-influenced punishments were meted out to women and often ensnared them in Britain’s system of convict labor.

Ziegler also clearly describes the methods and operation of the convict trade and sale procedures in colonial markets. Readers will travel with her to the places where convict servants were deployed and will come to understand the role these women played in colonial Maryland and their contributions to the region’s society and economy. Ziegler’s research also sheds light on escape attempts and the lives that awaited those who survived servitude.

Mostly illiterate, convict women left few primary sources such as diaries or letters in their own words. Ziegler has masterfully researched the penumbra of associated documents and accounts to reconstruct the worlds of eighteenth-century Britain and colonial Maryland and the lives of these unwilling American settlers. In illuminating this little-known episode in American history, Ziegler also discusses not just the fact that these women have been largely forgotten, but why. Harlots, Hussies and Poor Unfortunate Women makes a valuable contribution to American history, women’s studies, and labor history.

The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand Cover

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The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand

Roanoke's Forgotten Indians

By Michael Leroy Oberg

Roanoke is part of the lore of early America, the colony that disappeared. Many Americans know of Sir Walter Ralegh's ill-fated expedition, but few know about the Algonquian peoples who were the island's inhabitants. The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand examines Ralegh's plan to create an English empire in the New World but also the attempts of native peoples to make sense of the newcomers who threatened to transform their world in frightening ways.

Beginning his narrative well before Ralegh's arrival, Michael Leroy Oberg looks closely at the Indians who first encountered the colonists. The English intruded into a well-established Native American world at Roanoke, led by Wingina, the weroance, or leader, of the Algonquian peoples on the island. Oberg also pays close attention to how the weroance and his people understood the arrival of the English: we watch as Wingina's brother first boards Ralegh's ship, and we listen in as Wingina receives the report of its arrival. Driving the narrative is the leader's ultimate fate: Wingina is decapitated by one of Ralegh's men in the summer of 1586.

When the story of Roanoke is recast in an effort to understand how and why an Algonquian weroance was murdered, and with what consequences, we arrive at a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of what happened during this, the dawn of English settlement in America.

The History and Present State of Virginia Cover

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The History and Present State of Virginia

A New Edition with an Introduction by Susan Scott Parrish

Robert Beverley

While in London in 1705, Robert Beverley wrote and published The History and Present State of Virginia, one of the earliest printed English-language histories about North America by an author born there. As a native-born American-- most famously claiming "I am an Indian"-- he provided English readers with the first thoroughgoing account of the province's past, natural history, Indians, and current politics and society. In this new edition, Susan Scott Parrish situates Beverley and his History in the context of the metropolitan-provincial political and cultural issues of his day and explores the many contradictions embedded in his narrative.

The History of the American Indians Cover

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The History of the American Indians

Written by James Adair, edited and with an introduciton and annotations by Kathr

A fully annotated edition of a classic work detailing the cultures of five southeastern American Indian tribes during the Contact Period.

James Adair was an Englishman who lived and traded among the southeastern Indians for more than 30 years, from 1735 to 1768. During that time he covered the territory from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. He encountered and lived among Indians, advised governors, spent time with settlers, and worked tirelessly for the expansion of British interests against the French and the Spanish. Adair's acceptance by the Creeks, Choctaws, Cherokees, and Chickasaws provided him the opportunity to record, compare, and analyze their cultures and traditions.

Adair's written work, first published in England in 1775, is considered one of the finest histories of the Native Americans. His observations provide one of the earliest and what many modern scholars regard as the best account of southeastern Indian cultures. This edition adheres to current standards of literary editing, following the original closely, and provides fully annotated and indexed critical apparatus.

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Imperial Entanglements

Iroquois Change and Persistence on the Frontiers of Empire

By Gail D. MacLeitch

Imperial Entanglements chronicles the history of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois in the eighteenth century, a dramatic period during which they became further entangled in a burgeoning market economy, participated in imperial warfare, and encountered a waxing British Empire. Rescuing the Seven Years' War era from the shadows of the American Revolution and moving away from the political focus that dominates Iroquois studies, historian Gail D. MacLeitch offers a fresh examination of Iroquois experience in economic and cultural terms. As land sellers, fur hunters, paid laborers, consumers, and commercial farmers, the Iroquois helped to create a new economic culture that connected the New York hinterland to a transatlantic world of commerce. By doing so they exposed themselves to both opportunities and risks.

As their economic practices changed, so too did Iroquois ways of making sense of gender and ethnic differences. MacLeitch examines the formation of new cultural identities as men and women negotiated challenges to long-established gendered practices and confronted and cocreated a new racialized discourses of difference. On the frontiers of empire, Indians, as much as European settlers, colonial officials, and imperial soldiers, directed the course of events. However, as MacLeitch also demonstrates, imperial entanglements with a rising British power intent on securing native land, labor, and resources ultimately worked to diminish Iroquois economic and political sovereignty.

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An Infinity of Nations

How the Native New World Shaped Early North America

Michael Witgen

"An Infinity of Nations is a bold and altogether original examination of Indian-European relations, indigenous social formation, and European imperialism. Though centered on the western Great Lakes and northwestern interior in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the book travels far and wide geographically, chronologically, and thematically--to Iroquoia in the East, Hudson Bay in the North, the prairie-plains in the West, and Ohio Country in the South. Witgen also reaches deep into the past to place the events of the late 1600s in a long historical context of evolving indigenous North America, and he takes the story into the early nineteenth century, showing how, as it expanded westward, the United States collided with a long-evolving and fully formed indigenous world. A sophisticated study of a different kind of colonial world where kinship ties, mediation, small gestures, and right words signified and brought power."--Pekka Hämäläinen, author of The Comanche Empire An Infinity of Nations explores the formation and development of a Native New World in North America. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, indigenous peoples controlled the vast majority of the continent while European colonies of the Atlantic World were largely confined to the eastern seaboard. To be sure, Native North America experienced far-reaching and radical change following contact with the peoples, things, and ideas that flowed inland following the creation of European colonies on North American soil. Most of the continent's indigenous peoples, however, were not conquered, assimilated, or even socially incorporated into the settlements and political regimes of this Atlantic New World. Instead, Native peoples forged a New World of their own. This history, the evolution of a distinctly Native New World, is a foundational story that remains largely untold in histories of early America. Through imaginative use of both Native language and European documents, historian Michael Witgen recreates the world of the indigenous peoples who ruled the western interior of North America. The Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples of the Great Lakes and Northern Great Plains dominated the politics and political economy of these interconnected regions, which were pivotal to the fur trade and the emergent world economy. Moving between cycles of alliance and competition, and between peace and violence, the Anishinaabeg and Dakota carved out a place for Native peoples in modern North America, ensuring not only that they would survive as independent and distinct Native peoples but also that they would be a part of the new community of nations who made the New World. Michael Witgen teaches history and American culture at the University of Michigan.

Ireland in the Virginian Sea Cover

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Ireland in the Virginian Sea

Colonialism in the British Atlantic

Audrey Horning

In the late sixteenth century, the English started expanding westward, establishing control over parts of neighboring Ireland as well as exploring and later colonizing distant North America. Audrey Horning deftly examines the relationship between British colonization efforts in both locales, depicting their close interconnection as fields for colonial experimentation. Focusing on the Ulster Plantation in the north of Ireland and the Jamestown settlement in the Chesapeake, she challenges the notion that Ireland merely served as a testing ground for British expansion into North America. Horning instead analyzes the people, financial networks, and information that circulated through and connected English plantations on either side of the Atlantic.

James Habersham Cover

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James Habersham

Loyalty, Politics, and Commerce in Colonial Georgia

Frank Lambert

James Habersham was an early American success story. After arriving in Savannah in 1738, he failed in his efforts to wrest a living from the Georgia wilderness and lived his first year at public expense. Then, by dint of his own efforts and through the connections he forged, Habersham emerged as one of the colony's most influential and prosperous citizens, making his name as a planter, merchant, evangelist, and political leader. The third wealthiest person in the colony at the time of his death in 1775, Habersham had a public career that included service as the secretary of Georgia, president of the King's council, and acting Governor.

But Habersham's story is more than biography. It also provides a window into colonial Georgia and its transformation from a struggling colony on the brink of collapse in the 1740s to a prosperous province in the 1770s, confident enough to defy the Crown. Ranging over such topics as the rise of Methodist missionary fervor, the development of transatlantic trade, the introduction of slavery, and the escalating debate over American independence, Frank Lambert tells how Habersham's success is inextricably tied to Georgia's fortunes and how he played a major role in helping the colony exploit its abundant resources. Habersham's economic development plan provided a blueprint for attracting new settlers, supplying an abundance of cheap labor, and opening new markets.

Habersham's achievements, however, are obscured by his unpopular stance on American independence. While his three sons distinguished themselves as Patriots, Habersham remained loyal to the Crown, though he had opposed Britain's new imperial policies in the 1760's. Nevertheless, it was Habersham's loyal service to colonial Georgia that enabled the colony to separate successfully from the mother country and assume its place in the new republic as a prosperous, vigorous state.

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John Woolman's Path to the Peaceable Kingdom

A Quaker in the British Empire

By Geoffrey Plank

The abolitionist John Woolman (1720-72) has been described as a "Quaker saint," an isolated mystic, singular even among a singular people. But as historian Geoffrey Plank recounts, this tailor, hog producer, shopkeeper, schoolteacher, and prominent Quaker minister was very much enmeshed in his local community in colonial New Jersey and was alert as well to events throughout the British Empire. Responding to the situation as he saw it, Woolman developed a comprehensive critique of his fellow Quakers and of the imperial economy, became one of the most emphatic opponents of slaveholding, and helped develop a new form of protest by striving never to spend money in ways that might encourage slavery or other forms of iniquity.

Drawing on the diaries of contemporaries, personal correspondence, the minutes of Quaker meetings, business and probate records, pamphlets, and other sources, John Woolman's Path to the Peaceable Kingdom shows that Woolman and his neighbors were far more engaged with the problems of inequality, trade, and warfare than anyone would know just from reading the Quaker's own writings. Although he is famous as an abolitionist, the end of slavery was only part of Woolman's project. Refusing to believe that the pursuit of self-interest could safely guide economic life, Woolman aimed for a miraculous global transformation: a universal disavowal of greed.

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