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  • From the Editor
  • Elaine Forman Crane

It is always a pleasant surprise when issues take a life of their own and are coincidentally shaped by the similarities of the essays. In volume 7, number 1, six of the eight pieces focus on individual people rather than on events or places. And though the two remaining articles seem to be linked only by their attention to slavery, one essay—about the Quaker John Woolman—is an effective bridge between the people-centered articles and the two thematic works.

At the same time, each of the essays that focus on a historical figure does so from a different perspective. Geoffrey Plank’s analysis of John Woolman traces his changing attitude toward sailing ships as objects capable of producing good or evil. Nan Goodman and Adam Jortner show how the rereading of documents offers new insights into two well-known religious figures separated by time: Roger Williams and Ann Lee. Goodman looks to common law to explain Williams’s writings on banishment, whereas Jortner considers the political and gendered polemics surrounding the Shakers in general and Ann Lee in particular.

Both Oana Godeanu-Kenworthy and Edward White scrutinize the writings of men who were geographical outsiders. That is to say, the satire of the Nova Scotian politician Thomas Chandler Haliburton is analyzed by Godeanu-Kenworthy, who suggests that Canadians may have seen a downside to the democratic experiment of their American neighbor. And Edward White introduces us to the first English translation of a piece by Hector St. John de Crévecoeur who, in this work, allows us to eavesdrop on five European immigrants who discuss settlement in an American environment. Finally, as far as historical figures are concerned, William Pencak takes us from the written word to the visual image in order to show not only the importance of portraiture to the Jay family, but how the portraits become statements about identity and attitudes toward the self.

John Sweet and Clarence Maxwell tackle slavery. Sweet’s comprehensive review of trans-Atlantic slave-trade literature will be gratefully received by specialists and nonspecialists alike; Clarence Maxwell reminds us that Bermuda, although different from slave-dependent colonies on the mainland and in the Caribbean, also suffered from the threat of slave uprisings. Indeed, the paranoia that the 1761 “plot” incited is all too familiar in outline and response. [End Page v]

Elaine Forman Crane
Spring 2009


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