Using Abigail Adams's famous plea "to remember the Ladies" as its starting point, this paper examines the legal treatment of wife beating between the colonial period and the mid-nineteenth century. Trends within judicial decisions, legal treatises, and justice of the peace manuals suggest that the American Revolution contributed to a decline in the state's willingness to intervene on behalf of victims of domestic violence. Pointing to the American Revolution's dual commitment to private rights and to private life, the paper situates these trends within the longer evolution of American understandings of privacy rights. A central piece of the argument is that postrevolutionary understandings of "a right to privacy" (though that term itself was never used) were applied not to individuals but to social institutions such as the family, and that abused wives, as subordinate individuals within the family, lost opportunities to seek legal redress that had existed previously. The paper challenges common assumptions that wife beating had long been condoned by the English common law. It traces this assumption back to judicial decisions in the early United States, most notably the 1824 case of Bradley v. State, in which the value of familial privacy was joined to the unfounded premise that husbands possessed an age-old right to physically chastise their disobedient wives.
This article traces the remarkable life of William Blue, who was probably born into slavery in colonial New York about 1737 and who died a much-celebrated founding figure in the colony of New South Wales (present-day Australia) in 1834. Like the recent biography of Equiano, so carefully researched by Vincent Carretta, the recovered life of William Blue allows us to consider the competing claims of slave owners and the military for the labor of expropriated Africans, the complex strategies of resistance and survival that these Africans could employ, and the shifting constructions of race and class within the complex and interconnected sphere of the Anglo colonial world in the long eighteenth century.
In the late 1820s evangelical Protestants created Bible, tract, and missionary societies and renewed efforts to suspend Sunday mail delivery. Deistic free enquirers responded by forming their own societies, holding public debates, and publishing newspapers and pamphlets. Evangelical reformers outnumbered free enquirers, a difference far from evident to contemporary observers, who believed instead that "political religion" and "stalking infidelity" were equally powerful cultural developments. By centering on the collective assumptions, misapprehensions, and fears that shaped ideas and motivated actions of self-avowed free enquirers as well as advocates of Christian moral reform, this article argues that the central features of antebellum American religion and politics were shaped by contests over the presence of "political religion" and "stalking infidelity" in American society. Particular attention is given to free enquiry as a lens into the broader ways that "infidelity" and organized moral reform were competitive and intertwined political positions that eventually shaped the religious and moral texture of the Second Party System. Disputes between free enquirers and moral reformers took place within a context shaped by differing conceptions of citizenship, changing understandings of civil society, and a renewed cultural interest in the memory and meaning of the American Revolution. This article pays special attention to the opportunities provided in an urban context for print circulation, sociability, and religious controversy.
In Britain's wars of the 1740s Royal Navy press-gangs circulated throughout the Atlantic world attempting to force, or impress, British seamen into naval service. Sailors responded, often with the backing of Atlantic seaport communities, by mounting the most spectacular series of impressment riots in the eighteenth century. These disturbances showed that even while impressment helped to forge a common English-speaking Atlantic world, the institution also operated according to separate laws, customs, and traditions in individual regions of the Atlantic. Moreover, the seizing of men produced different consequences depending on the labor markets of particular seaports. Yet, if impressment riots in the British Isles, the West Indies, and North America did not always look the same, they often did share one common element: the presence of Admiral Charles Knowles. In the 1740s Knowles instigated the largest impressment riots in the history of Britain's Caribbean and American colonies. Indeed, the Boston Knowles Riot of 1747 was the most serious disturbance against British imperial authority in the mainland American colonies in the generation before the Stamp Act crisis. Together the Knowles riots and other acts of resistance against press-gangs demonstrated how dangerous forced naval service had become for Britain's Atlantic empire by the mid-eighteenth century.
Historians of North American slavery have generally argued that the continent lacked a significant tradition of marronage (independent communities of escaped slaves). Likewise, historians of slavery in North America and the Western Hemisphere, more broadly, have paid a great deal of attention to analyzing the changing patterns of and motives and goals behind slave resistance during the Age of Revolution. This article examines the history of the Negro Fort, which was North America's largest maroon community, and considers its origins, the backdrop of time and space, the lives of its inhabitants, and the structure of its government. The primary aim of the article is to consider the extent to which the inhabitants were able to carefully define their freedom in a unique manifestation of slave resistance that sought to reject their earlier condition of enslavement. In the end, the example of the Negro Fort adds to an understanding of slavery, slave resistance (both marronage and more general slave resistance), the Age of Revolution, and the Atlantic world and Borderlands at a crucial point in time.
The Cherokees were a markedly divided people during much of the eighteenth century. Though loosely bound by ties of kinship, cultural commonality, and political association, well-entrenched town and regional loyalties often presented a considerable challenge to Cherokee unity. Scholars have long recognized the fractured nature of Cherokee society and focused much of their attention on gender roles, generational gaps, and political factionalism. Paradoxically, though these studies typically identify town and region in their opening pages as geographic reference points and a source of discord, they then proceed to discuss the Cherokees as a singular entity. Thus, despite the influential works of such authors as Tom Hatley, Theda Perdue, and William McLoughlin, there are areas of Cherokee culture and history in need of further development. One of these is the importance of town and region to Cherokee identity, group allegiance, and sense of community. This paper accordingly highlights the diversity of Cherokee populations in the mid-eighteenth century, with a particular emphasis on regionalism. It then demonstrates how the Seven Years' War marked a turning point in Cherokee history, as mountain villagers confronted a powerful adversary that demanded a more unified response. Indeed, multiple British and American invasions produced a level of dislocation and cross-regional resistance rarely found in earlier conflicts with neighboring indigenous peoples. Although the Anglo-Cherokee War (1759–61) did not erase localized identities, it did foster a stronger ethnic consciousness and commitment among Cherokees by creating a legacy of shared experiences that effectively crossed town and regional boundaries.