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History > U.S. History > Colonial Era

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Results 91-100 of 126

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Red Ink Cover

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Red Ink

Native Americans Picking up the Pen in the Colonial Period

Reexamines the writings of early indigenous authors in the northeastern United States. The Native peoples of colonial New England were quick to grasp the practical functions of Western literacy. Their written literary output was composed to suit their own needs and expressed views often in resistance to the agendas of the European colonists they were confronted with. Red Ink is an engaging retelling of American colonial history, one that draws on documents that have received scant critical and scholarly attention to offer an important new interpretation grounded in indigenous contexts and perspectives. Author Drew Lopenzina reexamines a literature that has been compulsively “corrected” and overinscribed with the norms and expectations of the dominant culture, while simultaneously invoking the often violent tensions of “contact” and the processes of unwitnessing by which Native histories and accomplishments were effectively erased from the colonial record. In a compelling narrative arc, Lopenzina enables the reader to travel through a history that, however familiar, has never been fully appreciated or understood from a Native-centered perspective.

Red, White, and Black Make Blue Cover

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Red, White, and Black Make Blue

Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life

Andrea Feeser

Like cotton, indigo has defied its humble origins. Left alone it might have been a regional plant with minimal reach, a localized way of dyeing textiles, paper, and other goods with a bit of blue. But when blue became the most popular color for the textiles that Britain turned out in large quantities in the eighteenth century, the South Carolina indigo that colored most of this cloth became a major component in transatlantic commodity chains. In Red, White, and Black Make Blue, Andrea Feeser tells the stories of all the peoples who made indigo a key part of the colonial South Carolina experience as she explores indigo’s relationships to land use, slave labor, textile production and use, sartorial expression, and fortune building.

In the eighteenth century, indigo played a central role in the development of South Carolina. The popularity of the color blue among the upper and lower classes ensured a high demand for indigo, and the climate in the region proved sound for its cultivation. Cheap labor by slaves—both black and Native American—made commoditization of indigo possible. And due to land grabs by colonists from the enslaved or expelled indigenous peoples, the expansion into the backcountry made plenty of land available on which to cultivate the crop. Feeser recounts specific histories—uncovered for the first time during her research—of how the Native Americans and African slaves made the success of indigo in South Carolina possible. She also emphasizes the material culture around particular objects, including maps, prints, paintings, and clothing. Red, White, and Black Make Blue is a fraught and compelling history of both exploitation and empowerment, revealing the legacy of a modest plant with an outsized impact.

Reforming People Cover

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Reforming People

Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England

David D. Hall

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.

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Religion and Profit

Moravians in Early America

By Katherine Carte Engel

The Moravians, a Protestant sect founded in 1727 by Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf and based in Germany, were key players in the rise of international evangelicalism. In 1741, after planting communities on the frontiers of empires throughout the Atlantic world, they settled the communitarian enclave of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in order to spread the Gospel to thousands of nearby colonists and Native Americans. In time, the Moravians became some of early America's most successful missionaries.

Such vast projects demanded vast sums. Bethlehem's Moravians supported their work through financial savvy and an efficient brand of communalism. Moravian commercial networks, stretching from the Pennsylvania backcountry to Europe's financial capitals, also facilitated their efforts. Missionary outreach and commerce went hand in hand for this group, making it impossible to understand the Moravians' religious work without appreciating their sophisticated economic practices as well. Of course, making money in a manner that be fitted a Christian organization required considerable effort, but it was a balancing act that Moravian leaders embraced with vigor.

Religion and Profit traces the Moravians' evolving mission projects, their strategies for supporting those missions, and their gradual integration into the society of eighteenth-century North America. Katherine Carté Engel demonstrates the complex influence Moravian religious life had on the group's economic practices, and argues that the imperial conflict between Euro-Americans and Native Americans, and not the growth of capitalism or a process of secularization, ultimately reconfigured the circumstances of missionary work for the Moravians, altering their religious lives and economic practices.

Remaking Custom Cover

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Remaking Custom

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.

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The Revolution Is Now Begun

The Radical Committees of Philadelphia, 1765-1776

By Richard Alan Ryerson

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.

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Robert Love's Warnings

Searching for Strangers in Colonial Boston

By Cornelia H. Dayton and Sharon V. Salinger

In colonial America, the system of "warning out" was distinctive to New England, a way for a community to regulate those to whom it would extend welfare. Robert Love's Warnings animates this nearly forgotten aspect of colonial life, richly detailing the moral and legal basis of the practice and the religious and humanistic vision of those who enforced it.

Historians Cornelia H. Dayton and Sharon V. Salinger follow one otherwise obscure town clerk, Robert Love, as he walked through Boston's streets to tell sojourners, "in His Majesty's Name," that they were warned to depart the town in fourteen days. This declaration meant not that newcomers literally had to leave, but that they could not claim legal settlement or rely on town poor relief. Warned youths and adults could reside, work, marry, or buy a house in the city. If they became needy, their relief was paid for by the province treasurer. Warning thus functioned as a registration system, encouraging the flow of labor and protecting town coffers.

Between 1765 and 1774, Robert Love warned four thousand itinerants, including youthful migrant workers, demobilized British soldiers, recently exiled Acadians, and women following the redcoats who occupied Boston in 1768. Appointed warner at age sixty-eight owing to his unusual capacity for remembering faces, Love kept meticulous records of the sojourners he spoke to, including where they lodged and whether they were lame, ragged, drunk, impudent, homeless, or begging. Through these documents, Dayton and Salinger reconstruct the biographies of travelers, exploring why so many people were on the move throughout the British Atlantic and why they came to Boston. With a fresh interpretation of the role that warning played in Boston's civic structure and street life, Robert Love's Warnings reveals the complex legal, social, and political landscape of New England in the decade before the Revolution.

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Roots of Conflict

British Armed Forces and Colonial Americans, 1677-1763

Douglas Edward Leach

This lively book recounts the story of the antagonism between the American colonists and the British armed forces prior to the Revolution. Douglas Leach reveals certain Anglo-American attitudes and stereotypes that evolved before 1763 and became an important factor leading to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Using research from both England and the United States, Leach provides a comprehensive study of this complex historical relationship. British professional armed forces first were stationed in significant numbers in the colonies during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. During early clashes in Virginia in the 1670s and in Boston and New York in the late 1680s, the colonists began to perceive the British standing army as a repressive force. The colonists rarely identified with the British military and naval personnel and often came to dislike them as individuals and groups. Not suprisingly, these hostile feelings were reciprocated by the British soldiers, who viewed the colonists as people who had failed to succeed at home and had chosen a crude existence in the wilderness. These attitudes hardened, and by the mid-eighteenth century an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion prevailed on both sides. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754, greater numbers of British regulars came to America. Reaching uprecedented levels, the increased contact intensified the British military's difficulty in finding shelter and acquiring needed supplies and troops from the colonists. Aristocratic British officers considered the provincial officers crude amateurs -- incompetent, ineffective, and undisciplined -- leading slovenly, unreliable troops. Colonists, in general, hindered the British military by profiteering whenever possible, denouncing taxation for military purposes, and undermining recruiting efforts. Leach shows that these attitudes, formed over decades of tension-breeding contact, are an important development leading up to the American Revolution. This lively book recounts the story of the antagonism between the American colonists and the British armed forces prior to the Revolution. Douglas Leach reveals certain Anglo-American attitudes and stereotypes that evolved before 1763 and became an important factor leading to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Using research from both England and the United States, Leach provides a comprehensive study of this complex historical relationship. British professional armed forces first were stationed in significant numbers in the colonies during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. During early clashes in Virginia in the 1670s and in Boston and New York in the late 1680s, the colonists began to perceive the British standing army as a repressive force. The colonists rarely identified with the British military and naval personnel and often came to dislike them as individuals and groups. Not suprisingly, these hostile feelings were reciprocated by the British soldiers, who viewed the colonists as people who had failed to succeed at home and had chosen a crude existence in the wilderness. These attitudes hardened, and by the mid-eighteenth century an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion prevailed on both sides. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in 1754, greater numbers of British regulars came to America. Reaching uprecedented levels, the increased contact intensified the British military's difficulty in finding shelter and acquiring needed supplies and troops from the colonists. Aristocratic British officers considered the provincial officers crude amateurs -- incompetent, ineffective, and undisciplined -- leading slovenly, unreliable troops. Colonists, in general, hindered the British military by profiteering whenever possible, denouncing taxation for military purposes, and undermining recruiting efforts. Leach shows that these attitudes, formed over decades of tension-breeding contact, are an important development leading up to the American Revolution.

Rum Punch and Revolution Cover

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Rum Punch and Revolution

Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia

By Peter Thompson

'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.

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Savage Barbecue

Race, Culture, and the Invention of America's First Food

Andrew Warnes

Barbecue is a word that means different things to different people. It can be a verb or a noun. It can be pulled pork or beef ribs. And, especially in the American South, it can cause intense debate and stir regional pride. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that the roots of this food tradition are often misunderstood.

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.

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