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Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England
In this revelatory account of the people who founded the New England colonies, historian David D. Hall compares the reforms they enacted with those attempted in England during the period of the English Revolution. Bringing with them a deep fear of arbitrary, unlimited authority, these settlers based their churches on the participation of laypeople and insisted on "consent" as a premise of all civil governance. Puritans also transformed civil and criminal law and the workings of courts with the intention of establishing equity. In this political and social history of the five New England colonies, Hall provides a masterful re-evaluation of the earliest moments of New England’s history, revealing the colonists to be the most effective and daring reformers of their day.
Law and Identity in the Early American Republic
Remaking Custom examines the role of the early republic's legal scholars, who enhanced "republican parts" of English common law, in the formation of new American identities with a broad range of local variation. Some of these changes promoted equality and self-government, but these scholars also justified legal regimes that supported slavery and anglo-American hunger for native American land.
The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765-1776
The success of the American Revolution is less likely to be understood through an examination of its ideological origins than through a close analysis of the political processes by which principles, beliefs, and anxieties were translated into revolutionary action. This book offers the first detailed profile of the several hundred obscure committeemen and propagandists who took up the new revolutionary ideology and carried it that one last step: out of the realm of rhetoric and into the domain of concrete change. And participatory democracy as a principle of American government owes its realization largely to these second-rank politicians and ordinary citizens, who provided the basic muscle of Revolutionary politics.
In the 1760s and early 1770s Pennsylvania lacked nearly every ingredient for revolution found elsewhere in the colonies: a strong dissenting tradition, widely felt economic grievances, or a legislature intimately acquainted with royal government. Only the painstaking enlistment of a strong leadership core, the construction of new political institutions, and the rapid mobilization of the majority of the community could overcome these deficiencies. In Pennsylvania British authority succumbed to the activity of a few hundred men who were drawn into public life by a handful of veteran politicians within just two years. To these men and to their committees Pennsylvania owes its revolution.
In his book Richard Alan Ryerson focuses on the daily business of politics in the Revolutionary period—the art of motivation for radical political purposes—and its economic and social dimensions in the most prominent American city of the time. How were the colonists mobilized for resistance? What was the political process? Who were the disaffected people who became the radical leaders of the Philadelphia community?
To answer these questions, Ryerson compares campaigning styles, nomination and election procedures, and local political organizations in the colonial era with their counterparts during the Revolution. He also examines the age, economic status, religious faith, and national origins of the men who formed the radical committees of Philadelphia between 1765 and 1776.
Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia
'Twas Honest old Noah first planted the Vine
And mended his morals by drinking its Wine.
—from a drinking song by Benjamin Franklin
There were, Peter Thompson notes, some one hundred and fifty synonyms for inebriation in common use in colonial Philadelphia and, on the eve of the Revolution, just as many licensed drinking establishments. Clearly, eighteenth-century Philadelphians were drawn to the tavern. In addition to the obvious lure of the liquor, taverns offered overnight accommodations, meals, and stabling for visitors. They also served as places to gossip, gamble, find work, make trades, and gather news.
In Rum Punch and Revolution, Thompson shows how the public houses provided a setting in which Philadelphians from all walks of life revealed their characters and ideas as nowhere else. He takes the reader into the cramped confines of the colonial bar room, describing the friendships, misunderstandings and conflicts which were generated among the city's drinkers and investigates the profitability of running a tavern in a city which, until independence, set maximum prices on the cost of drinks and services in its public houses.
Taverngoing, Thompson writes, fostered a sense of citizenship that influenced political debate in colonial Philadelphia and became an issue in the city's revolution. Opinionated and profoundly undeferential, taverngoers did more than drink; they forced their political leaders to consider whether and how public opinion could be represented in the counsels of a newly independent nation.
Race, Culture, and the Invention of America's First Food
In Savage Barbecue, Andrew Warnes traces what he calls America's first food through early transatlantic literature and culture. Building on the work of scholar Eric Hobsbawm, Warnes argues that barbecue is an invented tradition, much like Thanksgiving-one long associated with frontier mythologies of ruggedness and relaxation.
Starting with Columbus's journals in 1492, Warnes shows how the perception of barbecue evolved from Spanish colonists' first fateful encounter with natives roasting iguanas and fish over fires on the beaches of Cuba. European colonists linked the new food to a savagery they perceived in American Indians, ensnaring barbecue in a growing web of racist attitudes about the New World. Warnes also unearths the etymological origins of the word barbecue, including the early form barbacoa; its coincidental similarity to barbaric reinforced emerging stereotypes.
Barbecue, as it arose in early transatlantic culture, had less to do with actual native practices than with a European desire to define those practices as barbaric. Warnes argues that the word barbecue retains an element of violence that can be seen in our culture to this day. Savage Barbecue offers an original and highly rigorous perspective on one of America's most popular food traditions.
Who were these Scots? What did they do? Where did they settle? What factors motivated their emigration? Dobson's work, based on original research on both sides of the Atlantic, comprehensively identifies the Scottish contribution to the settlement of North America prior to 1785, with particular emphasis on the seventeenth century.
Recruiting and settling the Scottish Highlanders as the first line of defense on the southern frontier in Georgia was an important decision on the part of the trustees and crucial for the survival of the colony, but this portion of Georgia's history has been sadly neglected until now. By focusing on the Scots themselves, Anthony W. Parker explains what factors motivated the Highlanders to leave their native glens of Scotland for the pine barrens of Georgia and attempts to account for the reasons their cultural distinctiveness and "old world" experience aptly prepared them to play a vital role in the survival of Georgia in this early and precarious moment in its history.
Catastrophe and Colonial Settlement in Early America
The stories we tell of American beginnings typically emphasize colonial triumph in the face of adversity. But the early years of English settlement in America were characterized by catastrophe: starvation, disease, extreme violence, ruinous ignorance, and serial abandonment. Seasons of Misery offers a provocative reexamination of the British colonies' chaotic and profoundly unstable early days, placing crisis—both experiential and existential—at the center of the story. At the outposts of a fledgling empire and disconnected from the social order of their home society, English settlers were both physically and psychologically estranged from their European identities. They could not control, or often even survive, the world they had intended to possess. According to Kathleen Donegan, it was in this cauldron of uncertainty that colonial identity was formed.
Studying the English settlements at Roanoke, Jamestown, Plymouth, and Barbados, Donegan argues that catastrophe marked the threshold between an old European identity and a new colonial identity, a state of instability in which only fragments of Englishness could survive amid the upheavals of the New World. This constant state of crisis also produced the first distinctively colonial literature as settlers attempted to process events that they could neither fully absorb nor understand. Bringing a critical eye to settlers' first-person accounts, Donegan applies a unique combination of narrative history and literary analysis to trace how settlers used a language of catastrophe to describe unprecedented circumstances, witness unrecognizable selves, and report unaccountable events. Seasons of Misery addresses both the stories that colonists told about themselves and the stories that we have constructed in hindsight about them. In doing so, it offers a new account of the meaning of settlement history and the creation of colonial identity.
Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland
The Dutch, through the directors of the West India Company, purchased Manhattan Island in 1625. They had come to the New World as traders, not expecting to assume responsibility as the sovereign possessor of a conquered New Netherland. They did not intend to make war on the native peoples around Manhattan Island, but they did; they did not intend to help destroy native cultures, but they did; they intended to be overseas the tolerant, pluralistic, and antimilitaristic people they thought themselves to be—and in so many respects were—at home, but they were not.
For the Dutch intruders, establishing a settled presence away from the homeland meant the destabilization of the adventurers' values and self-regard. They found that the initially peaceful encounters with the indigenous people soon took on the alarming overtones of an insurgency as the influx of the Dutch led to a complete upheaval and eventual disintegration of the social and political worlds of the natives.
How are the Dutch to be judged? Donna Merwick, in The Shame and the Sorrow, asks this question. She points to a betrayal both of their own values and of the native peoples. She also directs us to the self-delusion of hegemonic control. Her work belongs alongside the best of today's postcolonial studies in the description of cross-cultural violence and subtle questioning of the nature of writing its history.
Sir William Berkeley (1605–1677) influenced colonial Virginia more than any other man of his era, diversifying Virginia’s trade with international markets, serving as a model for the planter aristocracy, and helping to establish American self-rule. An Oxford-educated playwright, soldier, and diplomat, Berkeley won appointment as governor of Virginia in 1641 after a decade in the court of King Charles I. Between his arrival in Jamestown and his death, Berkeley became Virginia’s leading politician and planter, indelibly stamping his ambitions, accomplishments, and, ultimately, his failures upon the colony. In this masterly biography, Warren M. Billings offers the first full-scale treatment of Berkeley’s life, revealing the extent to which Berkeley shaped early Virginia and linking his career to the wider context of seventeenth-century Anglo-American history.