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The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science

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Uncompromising Activist

Richard Greener, First Black Graduate of Harvard College

Katherine Reynolds Chaddock

Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. In 1870, he was the first black graduate of Harvard College. During Reconstruction, he was the first black faculty member at a southern white college, the University of South Carolina. He was even the first black US diplomat to a white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association. Yet he died in obscurity, his name barely remembered.

His black friends and colleagues often looked askance at the light-skinned Greener’s ease among whites and sometimes wrongfully accused him of trying to "pass." While he was overseas on a diplomatic mission, Greener’s wife and five children stayed in New York City, changed their names, and vanished into white society. Greener never saw them again. At a time when Americans viewed themselves simply as either white or not, Greener lost not only his family but also his sense of clarity about race.

Richard Greener’s story demonstrates the human realities of racial politics throughout the fight for abolition, the struggle for equal rights, and the backslide into legal segregation. Katherine Reynolds Chaddock has written a long overdue narrative biography about a man, fascinating in his own right, who also exemplified America’s discomfiting perspectives on race and skin color. Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

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Venetians in Constantinople

Nation, Identity, and Coexistence in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Eric R Dursteler

Historian Eric R Dursteler reconsiders identity in the early modern world to illuminate Veneto-Ottoman cultural interaction and coexistence, challenging the model of hostile relations and suggesting instead a more complex understanding of the intersection of cultures. Although dissonance and strife were certainly part of this relationship, he argues, coexistence and cooperation were more common. Moving beyond the "clash of civilizations" model that surveys the relationship between Islam and Christianity from a geopolitical perch, Dursteler analyzes the lived reality by focusing on a localized microcosm: the Venetian merchant and diplomatic community in Muslim Constantinople. While factors such as religion, culture, and political status could be integral elements in constructions of self and community, Dursteler finds early modern identity to be more than the sum total of its constitutent parts and reveals how the fluidity and malleability of identity in this time and place made coexistence among disparate cultures possible.

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Warrior Pursuits

Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France

Brian Sandberg

This cultural history of civil warfare in early seventeenth-century France examines how warrior nobles’ practices of violence shaped provincial society and the royal state. Warrior Pursuits analyzes in detail how provincial nobles engaged in revolt and civil warfare in southern France between 1598 and 1635. The southern French provinces of Guyenne and Languedoc suffered almost continual religious strife and civil conflict in this period, providing an excellent case for investigating the dynamics of early modern civil violence. Brian Sandberg’s extensive archival research on noble families in these provinces reveals that violence continued to be a way of life for many French nobles, challenging previous scholarship that depicts a progressive “civilizing” of noble culture. He argues that southern French nobles engaged in warrior pursuits—social and cultural practices of violence designed to raise personal military forces and to wage civil warfare in order to advance various political and religious goals. Close relationships between the profession of arms, the bonds of nobility, and the culture of revolt allowed nobles to regard their violent performances as “heroic gestures” and “beautiful warrior acts.” Warrior nobles represented the key organizers of civil warfare in the early seventeenth century, orchestrating all aspects of the conduct of civil warfare—from recruitment to combat—according to their own understandings of their warrior pursuits. Building on the work of Arlette Jouanna and other historians of the nobility, Sandberg provides new perspectives on noble culture, state development, and civil warfare in early modern France. French historians and scholars of the Reformation and the European Wars of Religion will find Warrior Pursuits engaging and insightful.

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