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A Biographical Dictionary of Early American Jews

Colonial Times through 1800

Joseph R. Rosenbloom

Here is a virtually complete list of persons identifiable as Jews in America by 1800, the result of a thorough search of manuscript materials and published literature for the names of Jews who lived in America (including Canada up to 1783) during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. No other study provides comparable information for such an ethnic group in this country.

Each entry in this dictionary is accompanied by birth and death dates and places and other biographical data so far as they are available. The biographies vary from two lines recording the birth of an unnamed stillborn child or the presence of a transient in New York City to half-column summaries of the careers of well-known persons. Included are converts to Christianity and, in some instances, their children. Persons whose names or associations have resulted in their being incorporated into earlier lists of "Jews" are noted also, with an attempt to ascertain their identity.

Especially noteworthy is the small number of Jews in America during the two centuries before 1800. Only about 4,000 Jews, of whom 1,500 were native-born, have been identified in this dictionary -- and not all of these positively. Perhaps another 800 have been omitted, Rosenbloom points out, because their names are not included in extant records. Even so, it would appear that the percentage of Jews in the total colonial population (less than three million in 1783) was infinitesimal.

Students of the American colonial period will find this book a useful tool for ascertaining the national origins of American Jews, their occupations, their part in the Revolution, their places of settlement, and other historical and sociological data.

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The Blind African Slave

Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffrey Brace

Jeffrey Brace, as told to Benjamin F. Prentiss, Esq.

The Blind African Slave recounts the life of Jeffrey Brace (né Boyrereau Brinch), who was born in West Africa around 1742. Captured by slave traders at the age of sixteen, Brace was transported to Barbados, where he experienced the shock and trauma of slave-breaking and was sold to a New England ship captain. After fighting as an enslaved sailor for two years in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, Connecticut, and sold into slavery. After several years in New England, Brace enlisted in the Continental Army in hopes of winning his manumission. After five years of military service, he was honorably discharged and was freed from slavery. As a free man, he chose in 1784 to move to Vermont, the first state to make slavery illegal. There, he met and married an African woman, bought a farm, and raised a family. Although literate, he was blind when he decided to publish his life story, which he narrated to a white antislavery lawyer, Benjamin Prentiss, who published it in 1810. Upon his death in 1827, Brace was a well-respected abolitionist. In this first new edition since 1810, Kari J. Winter provides a historical introduction, annotations, and original documents that verify and supplement our knowledge of Brace's life and times.

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Books and the British Army in the Age of the American Revolution

Ira D. Gruber

This manuscript is an outgrowth of a presentation Gruber made to the Society of the Cincinnati (as part of the Society’s George Rogers Clark Lecture series) in 2002. It is a hybrid reference book and monograph. The work consists of a substantial introduction, a bibliography of books the officers preferred, a bibliography of books on war that do not appear in any of the inventories (termed books not taken), a set of biographies of the 42 officers on which the study rests, and various appendixes and tables that back up the earlier material.

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Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution

Caroline Cox

Between 1819 and 1845, as veterans of the Revolutionary War were filing applications to receive pensions for their service, the government was surprised to learn that many of the soldiers were not men, but boys, many of whom were under the age of sixteen, and some even as young as nine. In Boy Soldiers of the American Revolution, Caroline Cox reconstructs the lives and stories of this young subset of early American soldiers, focusing on how these boys came to join the army and what they actually did in service. Giving us a rich and unique glimpse into colonial childhood, Cox traces the evolution of youth in American culture in the late eighteenth century, as the accepted age for children to participate meaningfully in society--not only in the military--was rising dramatically.

Drawing creatively on sources, such as diaries, letters, and memoirs, Caroline Cox offers a vivid account of what life was like for these boys both on and off the battlefield, telling the story of a generation of soldiers caught between old and new notions of boyhood.

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Bring Out Your Dead

The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793

By J. H. Powell. Introduction by Kenneth R. Foster, Mary F. Jenkins, and Anna Coxe Toogood

In 1793 a disastrous plague of yellow fever paralyzed Philadelphia, killing thousands of residents and bringing the nation's capital city to a standstill. In this psychological portrait of a city in terror, J. H. Powell presents a penetrating study of human nature revealing itself. Bring Out Your Dead is an absorbing account, form the original sources, of an infamous tragedy that left its mark on all it touched.

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A Brittle Sword

The Kentucky Militia, 1776-1912

Richard G. Stone, Jr.

As an outpost of the advancing frontier, Kentucky played a crucial military role. Kentucky's state militia, which, under federal law, enrolled every able-bodied male citizen aged eighteen to forty-five, helped to secure the West for white settlers during the bloody Indian wars. Its members suffered defeat, capture, and death in the War of 1812, but also contributed to victories in the battles of the Thames and New Orleans. Though some Kentucky volunteers campaigned in the Mexican-American War, the general militia was moribund by the middle of the nineteenth century. Its infrequent musters had degenerated into sometimes mirthful and sometimes tragic frolics.

A Brittle Sword provides a lively interpretation of Kentucky's citizen-soldiers and their role in the military history of both the state and the nation.

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The Brothers Robidoux and the Opening of the American West

Robert J. Willoughby

Written in a unique biographical format, Robert Willoughby interweaves the stories of six brothers who shaped the American trans-Mississippi West during the first five decades of the nineteenth century. After migrating from French Canada to St. Louis, the brothers Robidoux—Joseph, Francois, Antoine, Louis, Michel, and Isadore—and their father, Joseph, became significant members in the business, fur trading, and land speculation communities, frequently interacting with upper-class members of the French society.

 

 

            Upon coming of age, the brothers followed their father into the fur business and American Indian trade. The oldest of the six, Joseph, led the group on an expedition up the Missouri River as Lewis and Clark had once done, designating a path of trade sites along their journey until they reached their destination at present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Eventually the younger brothers set out on their own westward expedition in the mid 1820s, reaching both Colorado and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Joseph eventually became a town founder in northwest Missouri near Blacksnake Creek. Antoine and Louis traveled as far as California, finally settling in Santa Fe where they became prominent citizens. As a trapper and trader, Michel endured many hardships and close calls during his journey across the West. Francois and Isadore made their home in New Mexico, maintaining a close relationship with Joseph in Missouri.

 

 

Though frequently under contract by others, the brothers did their best work when allowed to freelance and make their own rules. The brothers would ultimately pass on their prosperous legacy of ranging, exploring, trading, and town-building to a new generation of settlers. As the nature of the fur trade changed, so did the brothers’ business model. They began focusing on outfitting western migrants, town folk, and farmers. Their practices made each of them wealthy; however, they all died poor.

 

 

            To understand the opening of the American West, one must first know about men like the brothers Robidoux. Their lives are the framework for stories about the American frontier. By using primary sources located at the Missouri Historical Society, the Mexican Archives of New Mexico, and the Huntington Library, as well as contemporary accounts written by those who knew them, Willoughby has now told the Robidouxs’ story.

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Building the Empire State

Political Economy in the Early Republic

By Brian Phillips Murphy

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Cast Down

Abjection in America, 1700-1850

By Mark J. Miller

Derived from the Latin abiectus, literally meaning "thrown or cast down," "abjection" names the condition of being servile, wretched, or contemptible. In Western religious tradition, to be abject is to submit to bodily suffering or psychological mortification for the good of the soul. In Cast Down: Abjection in America, 1700-1850, Mark J. Miller argues that transatlantic Protestant discourses of abjection engaged with, and furthered the development of, concepts of race and sexuality in the creation of public subjects and public spheres.

Miller traces the connection between sentiment, suffering, and publication and the role it played in the movement away from church-based social reform and toward nonsectarian radical rhetoric in the public sphere. He focuses on two periods of rapid transformation: first, the 1730s and 1740s, when new models of publication and transportation enabled transatlantic Protestant religious populism, and, second, the 1830s and 1840s, when liberal reform movements emerged from nonsectarian religious organizations. Analyzing eighteenth- and nineteenth-century conversion narratives, personal narratives, sectarian magazines, poems, and novels, Miller shows how church and social reformers used sensational accounts of abjection in their attempts to make the public sphere sacred as a vehicle for political change, especially the abolition of slavery.

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The Character of John Adams

Peter Shaw

The formal side of Adams is reconciled with his remarkably colorful private life by Shaw's penetrating grasp of the whole man. Considerable attention is given to his clash of wills with Franklin in Europe and his later relationship with Jefferson. The account of Adams's twenty-five years of retirement after losing the presidency resolves some of the dilemmas arising from the long career of a man who was never really suited by temperament for politics.

Originally published in 1976.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

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