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Historically Speaking July/August 2007 Historically Speaking July/August 2007 Vol. VIII No. 6 Contents The Localization ofAuthority in the 17th-century English Colonies Gordon S. Wood BRIDGES World Environmental History: The First 100,000 Years J. R. McNeill An Interview with Felipe Femàndez-Anvesto Conducted by Donald A. Yerxa British Abolitionism: A Forum Slavery, Emancipation, and Progress 13 David Brion Davis PopularEvangelicalism and the16 Shaping ofBritish Moral Sensibilities, mO-1840 David Hempton Slaveryand Islam Lamin Sannen 20 The Recent HistoriographyofBritish 22 Abolitionism:Academic Scholarship, PopularHistory, and the Broader Reading Public EricAmesen On SlaveryandAntislavery:26 An Interview with David Brion Davis Conducted by Donald A. Yerxa Unburied Treasure: Governor Thomas 29 Burke and the Origins of Judicial Review Scott D. Gerber Context and Content: The Enduring 31 Importance ofM'Culloch v. Maryland Mark R. Killenbeck The Lost Promise ofCivil Rights33 Risa L. Goluboff George Bogle and the Panchen Lama: 37 An 18th-century Cultural Exchange Kate Teltscher France's New President40 George Ross Western Europe'sAmerica Problem 41 Andrei S. Markovits Revisiting Banaclough's Contemporary 45 History Bruce Mazlish The Historical Society's 2008 Conference: Migration, Diaspora, Ethnicity, & Nationalism in History 48 The Localization of Authority in the 17th-century English Colonies* Gordon S. Wood In 1989, at the 200th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Congress, I gave a lecture at the Library of Congress on the origins of the Congress . During the question period a woman very angrily asked: "Why don't you historians of the founders give proper credit to the Iroquois in the creation of the Constitution?" I had never heard of this Iroquois contribution . I should have, I suppose, because I later discovered that during the previous year in October 1988, the House of Representatives and the Senate had passed resolutions thanking the Iroquois for their contribution to the framing of the United States Constitution . Laura Nader was this woman's name. She's the sister of Ralph Nader and a professor of anthropologyat Berkeley. She was so angry she wrote a letter to the Librarian of Congress , James Billington, enclosing an article by another anthropologist, and suggested that Billington send this to Wood and educate him in the origins of the Constitution. So Billington sent it on to me. This is how the anthropological argument roughly goes. Benjamin Franklin was at the Albany Congress in 1754 and, diplomat that he was, congratulated the Iroquois on their ability to bring five tribes together to form the Confederacy of the Iroquois Nation. Then three decades later at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Franklin presumably passed this idea of confederation on to his fellow delegates at Philadelphia, and in this manner the Iroquois influenced the creation of the Constitution. This curious notion of causality doesn't quite * This essay is adapted from Gordon Wood's plenary address given in Williamsburg, Virginia on April 13, 2007 at the National Council for History Education's annual conference, "Expanding Horizons: Individuals and Their Encounters with the New." An 1859 print showing the Pilgrims, below deck on the Mayflower, signing the Mayflower Compact Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, LC-DIG-ppmsca-07842]. work. The Iroquois and the other Indians certainly contributed a great deal to early American culture. But ideas about federalism and the dividing and parceling out of political power were not among their contributions. The framers in 1787 did not have to borrow such ideas from the Iroquois. The English colonists had their own long tradition of dividing up and parcelingout power from the bottom up; the framers knew all by themselves how to draw up confederated governments . The origins of American federalism and American localism went back at least to the early 17th-century English settlements in Virginia and New England. The migrants whosettled Jamestown and the Chesapeake, and later New England, came already primed with a long English heritage of local autonomy. As the populations in both the Chesapeake area and in New England quickly dispersed, this acute English sense of local authority was reinforced and intensified. No one had quite expected such rapid dispersion. The Virginia Company , for example, hoped to set up boroughs in the Chesapeake and, indeed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6438
Print ISSN
1941-4188
Pages
pp. 2-5
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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