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History > U.S. History > Colonial Era

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The Invention of Free Labor Cover

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The Invention of Free Labor

The Employment Relation in English and American Law and Culture, 1350-1870

Examining the emergence of the modern conception of free labor--labor that could not be legally compelled, even though voluntarily agreed upon--Steinfeld explains how English law dominated the early American colonies, making violation of al labor agreements punishable by imprisonment. By the eighteenth century, traditional legal restrictions no longer applied to many kinds of colonial workers, but it was not until the nineteenth century that indentured servitude came to be regarded as similar to slavery.

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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Jonathan Edwards and the Gospel of Love

Ronald Story

Jonathan Edwards has long epitomized the Puritan preacher as fiery scold, fixated on the inner struggle of the soul and the eternal flames of hell. In this book, Ronald Story offers a fundamentally different view of Edwards, revealing a profoundly social minister who preached a gospel of charity and community bound by love. The first chapters trace Edwards’s life and impact, examine his reputation as an intellectual, Calvinist, and revivalist, and highlight the importance for him of the gentler, more compassionate concepts of light, harmony, beauty, and sweetness. Story then explains what Edwards means by the “Gospel of Love”—a Christian faith that is less individual than interpersonal, and whose central feature is the practice of charity to the poor and the quest for loving community in this world, the chief signs of true salvation. As Edwards preached in his sermon “Heaven Is a World of Love,” the afterlife itself is social in nature because love is social. Drawing on Edwards’s own sermons and notebooks, Story reveals the minister’s belief that divine love expressed in the human family should take us beyond tribalism, sectarianism, provincialism, and nationality. Edwards offers hope, in the manner of Walter Rauschenbusch, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King Jr., and other great “improvers,” for the coming of a world without want and war. Gracefully and compellingly written, this book represents a new departure in Edwards studies, revising the long-standing yet misleading stereotype of a man whose lessons of charity, community, and love we need now more than ever.

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Jonathan Edwards's Philosophy of History

The Reenchantment of the World in the Age of Enlightenment

Avihu Zakai

Avihu Zakai analyzes Jonathan Edwards's redemptive mode of historical thought in the context of the Enlightenment. As theologian and philosopher, Edwards has long been a towering figure in American intellectual history. Nevertheless, and despite Edwards's intense engagement with the nature of time and the meaning of history, there has been no serious attempt to explore his philosophy of history. Offering the first such exploration, Zakai considers Edwards's historical thought as a reaction, in part, to the varieties of Enlightenment historical narratives and their growing disregard for theistic considerations.

Zakai analyzes the ideological origins of Edwards's insistence that the process of history depends solely on God's redemptive activity in time as manifested in a series of revivals throughout history, reading this doctrine as an answer to the threat posed to the Christian theological teleology of history by the early modern emergence of a secular conception of history and the modern legitimation of historical time. In response to the Enlightenment refashioning of secular, historical time and its growing emphasis on human agency, Edwards strove to re-establish God's preeminence within the order of time. Against the de-Christianization of history and removal of divine power from the historical process, he sought to re-enthrone God as the author and lord of history--and thus to re-enchant the historical world.

Placing Edwards's historical thought in its broadest context, this book will be welcomed by those who study early modern history, American history, or religious culture and experience in America.

A Journey Into Mohawk and Oneida Country, 1634-1635 Cover

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A Journey Into Mohawk and Oneida Country, 1634-1635

The Journal of Harmen Meyndertsz van den Bogaert, Revised Edition

by Charles Gehring

This revised edition includes a new preface, the original Dutch transcription and updated endnotes and bibliography

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Kentucke's Frontiers

Craig Thompson Friend

American culture has long celebrated the heroism framed by Kentucky's frontier wars. Spanning the period from the 1720s when Ohio River valley Indians returned to their homeland to the American defeat of the British and their Indian allies in the War of 1812, Kentucke's Frontiers examines the political, military, religious, and public memory narratives of early Kentucky. Craig Thompson Friend explains how frontier terror framed that heroism, undermining the egalitarian promise of Kentucke and transforming a trans-Appalachian region into an Old South state. From county courts and the state legislature to church tribunals and village stores, patriarchy triumphed over racial and gendered equality, creating political and economic opportunity for white men by denying it for all others. Even in remembering their frontier past, Kentuckians abandoned the egalitarianism of frontier life and elevated white males to privileged places in Kentucky history and memory.

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Laboring Women

Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery

By Jennifer L. Morgan

When black women were brought from Africa to the New World as slave laborers, their value was determined by their ability to work as well as their potential to bear children, who by law would become the enslaved property of the mother's master. In Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery, Jennifer L. Morgan examines for the first time how African women's labor in both senses became intertwined in the English colonies. Beginning with the ideological foundations of racial slavery in early modern Europe, Laboring Women traverses the Atlantic, exploring the social and cultural lives of women in West Africa, slaveowners' expectations for reproductive labor, and women's lives as workers and mothers under colonial slavery.

Challenging conventional wisdom, Morgan reveals how expectations regarding gender and reproduction were central to racial ideologies, the organization of slave labor, and the nature of slave community and resistance. Taking into consideration the heritage of Africans prior to enslavement and the cultural logic of values and practices recreated under the duress of slavery, she examines how women's gender identity was defined by their shared experiences as agricultural laborers and mothers, and shows how, given these distinctions, their situation differed considerably from that of enslaved men. Telling her story through the arc of African women's actual lives--from West Africa, to the experience of the Middle Passage, to life on the plantations--she offers a thoughtful look at the ways women's reproductive experience shaped their roles in communities and helped them resist some of the more egregious effects of slave life.

Presenting a highly original, theoretically grounded view of reproduction and labor as the twin pillars of female exploitation in slavery, Laboring Women is a distinctive contribution to the literature of slavery and the history of women.

Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America Cover

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Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America

Literacy Instruction and Acquisition in a Cultural Context

E Jennifer Monaghan

An experienced teacher of reading and writing and an award-winning historian, E. Jennifer Monaghan brings to vibrant life the process of learning to read and write in colonial America. Ranging throughout the colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia, she examines the instruction of girls and boys, Native Americans and enslaved Africans, the privileged and the poor, revealing the sometimes wrenching impact of literacy acquisition on the lives of learners. For the most part, religious motives underlay reading instruction in colonial America, while secular motives led to writing instruction. Monaghan illuminates the history of these activities through a series of deeply researched and readable case studies. An Anglican missionary battles mosquitoes and loneliness to teach the New York Mohawks to write in their own tongue. Puritan fathers model scriptural reading for their children as they struggle with bereavement. Boys in writing schools, preparing for careers in counting houses, wield their quill pens in the difficult task of mastering a "good hand." Benjamin Franklin learns how to compose essays with no teacher but himself. Young orphans in Georgia write precocious letters to their benefactor, George Whitefield, while schools in South Carolina teach enslaved black children to read but never to write. As she tells these stories, Monaghan clears new pathways in the analysis of colonial literacy. She pioneers in exploring the implications of the separation of reading and writing instruction, a topic that still resonates in today's classrooms. Monaghan argues that major improvements occurred in literacy instruction and acquisition after about 1750, visible in rising rates of signature literacy. Spelling books were widely adopted as they key text for teaching young children to read; prosperity, commercialism, and a parental urge for gentility aided writing instruction, benefiting girls in particular. And a gentler vision of childhood arose, portraying children as more malleable than sinful. It promoted and even commercialized a new kind of children's book designed to amuse instead of convert, laying the groundwork for the "reading revolution" of the new republic.

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