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An Essay on Loss Across Time
Stuyvesant Bound is an innovative and compelling evaluation of the last director general of New Netherland. Donna Merwick examines the layers of culture in which Peter Stuyvesant forged his career and performed his responsibilities, ultimately reappraising the view of Stuyvesant long held by the majority of U.S. historians and commentators.
Borrowing its form from the genre of eighteenth- and nineteenth-?century learned essays, Stuyvesant Bound invites the reader to step into a premodern worldview as Merwick considers Stuyvesant's role in history from the perspectives of duty, belief, and loss. Stuyvesant is presented as a mid-seventeenth-century magistrate obliged by his official oath to manage New Netherland, including installing Calvinist politics and belief practices under the fragile conditions of early modern spirituality after the Protestant Reformation. Merwick meticulously reconstructs the process by which Stuyvesant became his own archivist and historian when, recalled to The Hague to answer for his surrender of New Netherland in 1664, he gathered together papers amounting to almost 50,000 words and offered them to the States General. Though Merwick weaves the theme of loss throughout this meditation on Stuyvesant's career, the association culminates in New Netherland's fall to the English in 1664 and Stuyvesant's immediate recall to Holland to defend his surrender. Rigorously researched and unabashedly interpretive, Stuyvesant Bound makes a major contribution to recovery of the cultural and religious diversity that marked colonial America.
European and Indian Settler Communities on the Fro
Thomas Jefferson read Latin and Greek authors throughout his life and wrote movingly about his love of the ancient texts, which he thought should be at the core of America's curriculum. Yet at the same time, Jefferson warned his countrymen not to look to the ancient world for modern lessons and deplored many of the ways his peers used classical authors to address contemporary questions. As a result, the contribution of the ancient world to the thought of America's most classically educated Founding Father remains difficult to assess.
This volume brings together historians of political thought with classicists and historians of art and culture to find new approaches to the difficult questions raised by America's classical heritage. The essays explore the classical contribution to different aspects of Jefferson’s thought and taste, as well as examining the significance of the ancient world to America in a broader historical context. The diverse interests and methodologies of the contributors suggest new ways of approaching one of the most prominent and contested of the traditions that helped create America's revolutionary republicanism.
Contributors:Gordon S. Wood, Brown University * Peter S. Onuf, University of Virginia * Michael P. Zuckert, University of Notre Dame * Caroline Winterer, Stanford University * Richard Guy Wilson, University of Virginia * Maurie D. McInnis, University of Virginia * Nicholas P. Cole, University of Oxford * Peter Thompson, University of Oxford * Eran Shalev, Haifa University * Paul A. Rahe, Hillsdale College * Jennifer T. Roberts, City University of New York, Graduate Center * Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, University of Virginia
Beginning with the famous opening to the Declaration of Independence ("When in the course of human events..."), almost all of Thomas Jefferson’s writings include creative, stylistically and philosophically complex references to time and history. Although best known for his "forward-looking" statements envisioning future progress, Jefferson was in fact deeply concerned with the problem of coming to terms with the impending loss or fragmentation of the past. As Hannah Spahn shows in Thomas Jefferson, Time, and History, his efforts to promote an exceptionalist interpretation of the United States as the first nation to escape from the "crimes and calamities" of European history were complicated both by his doubts about the outcome of the American experiment and by his skepticism about the methods and morals of eighteenth-century philosophical history.
Spahn approaches the conundrum of Jefferson’s Janus-faced, equally forward- and backward-oriented thought by discussing it less as a matter of personal contradiction and paradox than as the expression of a late Newtonian Enlightenment, in a period between ancient and modern modes of explaining change in time. She follows Jefferson in his creation of an influential narrative of American and global history over the course of half a century, opening avenues into a temporal and historical imagination that was different from ours, and offering new assessments of the solutions Jefferson and his generation found (or failed to find) to central moral and political problems like slavery.
Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies
In this important book, Elaine Breslaw claims to have rediscovered Tituba, the elusive, mysterious, and often mythologized Indian woman accused of witchcraft in Salem in 1692 and immortalized in Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
Reconstructing the life of the slave woman at the center of the notorious Salem witch trials, the book follows Tituba from her likely origins in South America to Barbados, forcefully dispelling the commonly-held belief that Tituba was African. The uniquely multicultural nature of life on a seventeenth-century Barbadan sugar plantation—defined by a mixture of English, American Indian, and African ways and folklore—indelibly shaped the young Tituba's world and the mental images she brought with her to Massachusetts.
Breslaw divides Tituba’s story into two parts. The first focuses on Tituba's roots in Barbados, the second on her life in the New World. The author emphasizes the inextricably linked worlds of the Caribbean and the North American colonies, illustrating how the Puritan worldview was influenced by its perception of possessed Indians. Breslaw argues that Tituba’s confession to practicing witchcraft clearly reveals her savvy and determined efforts to protect herself by actively manipulating Puritan fears. This confession, perceived as evidence of a diabolical conspiracy, was the central agent in the cataclysmic series of events that saw 19 people executed and over 150 imprisoned, including a young girl of 5.
A landmark contribution to women's history and early American history, Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem sheds new light on one of the most painful episodes in American history, through the eyes of its most crucial participant.
The Rise and Fall of Transatlantic Radicalism in the Early Republic
Traces the brief but highly significant efflorescence of cosmopolitan, democratic radicalism, associated with Thomas Paine, in the U.S. in the wake of the French Revolution. This democratic moment--regarding race, economic justice, citizenship, and a more truly democratic politics--ended when Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans alike associated these cosmopolitan democrats with Jacobinism and the Terror.
The Political Economy of New England from Its Founding to the Revolution
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, British colonists found the New World full of resources. With land readily available but workers in short supply, settlers developed coercive forms of labor—indentured servitude and chattel slavery—in order to produce staple export crops like rice, wheat, and tobacco. This brutal labor regime became common throughout most of the colonies. An important exception was New England, where settlers and their descendants did most work themselves.
In Town Born, Barry Levy shows that New England's distinctive and far more egalitarian order was due neither to the colonists' peasant traditionalism nor to the region's inhospitable environment. Instead, New England's labor system and relative equality were every bit a consequence of its innovative system of governance, which placed nearly all land under the control of several hundred self-governing town meetings. As Levy shows, these town meetings were not simply sites of empty democratic rituals but were used to organize, force, and reconcile laborers, families, and entrepreneurs into profitable export economies. The town meetings protected the value of local labor by persistently excluding outsiders and privileging the town born.
The town-centered political economy of New England created a large region in which labor earned respect, relative equity ruled, workers exercised political power despite doing the most arduous tasks, and the burdens of work were absorbed by citizens themselves. In a closely observed and well-researched narrative, Town Born reveals how this social order helped create the foundation for American society.
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior
In A Town In-Between, Judith Ridner reveals the influential, turbulent past of a modest, quiet American community. Today Carlisle, Pennsylvania, nestled in the Susquehanna Valley, is far from the nation's political and financial centers. In the eighteenth century, however, Carlisle and its residents stood not only at a geographical crossroads but also at the fulcrum of early American controversies. Located between East Coast settlement and the western frontier, Carlisle quickly became a mid-Atlantic hub, serving as a migration gateway to the southern and western interiors, a commercial way station in the colonial fur trade, a military staging and supply ground during the Seven Years' War, American Revolution, and Whiskey Rebellion, and home to one of the first colleges in the United States, Dickinson.
A Town In-Between reconsiders the role early American towns and townspeople played in the development of the country's interior. Focusing on the lives of the ambitious group of Scots-Irish colonists who built Carlisle, Judith Ridner reasserts that the early American west was won by traders, merchants, artisans, and laborers—many of them Irish immigrants—and not just farmers. Founded by proprietor Thomas Penn, the rapidly growing town was the site of repeated uprisings, jailbreaks, and one of the most publicized Anti-Federalist riots during constitutional ratification. These conflicts had dramatic consequences for many Scots-Irish Presbyterian residents who found themselves a people in-between, mediating among the competing ethnoreligious, cultural, class, and political interests that separated them from their fellow Quaker and Anglican colonists of the Delaware Valley and their myriad Native American trading partners of the Ohio country.
In this thoroughly researched and highly readable study, Ridner argues that interior towns were not so much spearheads of a progressive and westward-moving Euro-American civilization, but volatile places situated in the middle of a culturally diverse, economically dynamic, and politically evolving early America.
Loyalists in New York City during the Revolution
Unnatural Rebellion chronicles how a cross-spectrum of colonists who opposed the “unnatural rebellion” flocked to the British headquarters of New York City to support their ideal of reunion, only to be subjected to living in the most unnatural circumstances, i.e., under military rule by those whom they expected to quickly crush the minority rebellion.
Widowhood and Gender in Early British America
In early American society, one’s identity was determined in large part by gender. The ways in which men and women engaged with their communities were generally not equal: married women fell under the legal control of their husbands, who handled all negotiations with the outside world, as well as many domestic interactions. The death of a husband enabled women to transcend this strict gender divide. Yet, as a widow, a woman occupied a third, liminal gender in early America, performing an unusual mix of male and female roles in both public and private life.
With shrewd analysis of widows’ wills as well as prescriptive literature, court appearances, newspaper advertisements, and letters, The Widows’ Might explores how widows were portrayed in early American culture, and how widows themselves responded to their unique role. Using a comparative approach, Vivian Bruce Conger deftly analyzes how widows in colonial Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Maryland navigated their domestic, legal, economic, and community roles in early American society.