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Current Issue Article Abstracts

Summer 2017, Vol. 15.3

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Alejandra Dubcovsky, George Aaron Broadwell

This paper offers a reexamination of the Timucua-Spanish relations in colonial Florida, culminating in the Timucua uprising of 1656. Combining our two specialties, linguistic anthropology and history, this paper explores the few Timucua religious materials available, which are the oldest extant Native American texts north of Mexico. Examining the content of these texts (the subject matter, the language, and its arguments) as well as the context in which they were produced, this essay considers the Timucua texts as early expressions of Timucua literacy and authorship. The Timucua texts hint at the complex effects of linguistic collision and exchange. As Timucua authors collaborated and, at times, appropriated these Spanish religious texts, their voices hint at the power of language as a marker of identity and resistance.

Colonial-Indigenous Language Encounters in North America and the Intellectual History of the Atlantic World

Sean P. Harvey, Sarah Rivett

Early American archives abound with references to episodes of communication, translation, and interpretation, and with a diverse array of Native-language texts. They provide evidence both of practical and philosophical colonial projects and of the ways in which Native people used their languages to mediate colonization. Scholars have uncovered a range of methods that diverse peoples employed to communicate with one another, the contexts that shaped the meanings of the words and messages exchanged, and the broader significance of those exchanges for figures far from the point of encounter. The texts and commentaries that flowed from efforts at language learning and linguistic collection bear testimony to ways Native languages shaped Euro-American intellectual, cultural, and religious history. They also transform previous rubrics for understanding American Indian resistance to linguistic imperialism into a social fact with an archive and a material history. Colonial-indigenous language encounters influenced the cultural and intellectual history of Native individuals and communities, providing new media for linguistic expression and new frames through which to consider their own tongues.

"Your Wife Will Be Your Biggest Accuser": Reinforcing Codes of Manhood at New England Witch Trials

Richard Godbeer

Roughly one-fifth of those accused of witchcraft in early New England were men, a sizable proportion that merits close attention. Some of those accused men were linked to female witches and quite possibly came under suspicion because of that association. But others were targets in their own right, on some occasions for explicitly gendered reasons. Witch trials sought to enforce gendered codes of behavior for men as well as for women. Some male suspects became vulnerable at least in part because they were seen as problematic husbands, fathers, and neighbors. More broadly, they had failed or refused to embody the qualities associated with decent and godly men. Because relationships in the early modern world—social, political, and religious—were framed predominantly in familial and thus gendered terms, such failures had broad and profound implications. And men who flouted gender codes that Puritans believed to be ordained by God could be labeled as instruments of the devil. This essay reaffirms the centrality of gender to conceptions of witchcraft in early New England while broadening our understanding of the role that gender played in witch trials. Building on the argument that women often became witch suspects because they were seen as having violated gendered expectations, it proposes that the same was sometimes true of male witches.

Justin Pope

In 1738 British colonists on Nantucket accused their Wampanoag neighbors of plotting to rise in violent rebellion. The colonists quickly discovered the rumor was false, but their retraction did not stop newspaper printers in Boston from creating a sensational story of Indian conspiracy that quickly spread throughout the British Empire, circling the Atlantic from New England to London. In the earliest version of the report, the Boston printer Thomas Draper relied on conventions from his previous stories of slave conspiracy to invent a sensational account of an imminent Indian uprising. Most printers copied his first account of the conspiracy. Examining the Nantucket Indian conspiracy of 1738 illuminates the process by which early American printers altered and even manufactured stories of conspiracy on the basis of conventions established over years of reporting slave unrest. Historians have long relied on newspaper accounts for evidence of subaltern rebellion in the Atlantic world. This case study challenges scholars to reevaluate the process by which printers created news of conspiracy during a formative period in the history of the early American press.

The Atlantic Odyssey of Richard Tookerman: Gentleman of South Carolina, Pirate of Jamaica, and Litigant before the King's Bench

Steven C. Hahn

This article is a microhistory of Richard Tookerman, an alleged pirate who appeared in South Carolina, Jamaica, England, and other locations in the greater Atlantic world. Accused of trading with pirates and of assisting the pirate Stede Bonnet's escape from a South Carolina jail, Tookerman eventually resurfaced in Jamaica, where in 1721 he was apprehended by Admiral Edward Vernon. Sent to London to stand trial for crimes that included piracy and Jacobite activity, Tookerman went free by virtue of a writ of habeas corpus, which emboldened him to countersue Vernon for false imprisonment and negotiate a favorable cash settlement. The investigation of Tookerman's life reveals new dimensions of piracy by tracking individuals in local administrative records from several colonies in an attempt to connect piracy at sea with the land-based communities that supported it. Tookerman was a minister's son and self-styled "gentleman of South Carolina," and his rather ordinary life challenges the idea that pirates were a uniquely deviant kind of human being, thereby complicating the very idea of what it meant to be a "pirate." Tookerman's ability to evade the law in several maritime communities indicates a lingering sympathy for pirates, even as the British colonial governments tried to eradicate them.

Montgomery's Misfortune: The American Defeat at Quebec and the March toward Independence, 1775–1776

Amy Noel Ellison

This article examines the consequences of the 1775 Battle of Quebec—a frequently overlooked defeat for American Patriots, yet the key battle in a campaign that proved one of the most influential of the Revolution. Usually dismissed as merely a failed military operation, the American invasion of Canada played a central role in the movement for American independence. That fall, American revolutionaries invaded Canada in the hope of winning a fourteenth colony for the cause. Despite several initial victories, a crushing repulse on December 31 left Major General Richard Montgomery dead, Colonel Benedict Arnold hospitalized, and nearly a third of the Northern Army in the hands of the British. Losing Canada shook colonial confidence in the war effort and deflated hopes for favorable reconciliation. Even more than Thomas Paine's Common Sense, defeat at Quebec lent crucial support to the urgent argument against reconciliation and led the Continental Congress to prepare for the inevitability of a long war and the necessity of a declaration of independence.

Runaways, Rewards, and the Social History of Money

Simon Middleton

This article considers servant and slave runaway advertisements as a qualitative rather than quantitative source focusing less, as others have, on the fugitives' agency, and more on their commodification as laborers and its relationship to the rise of print culture and paper money. I am concerned in particular with the payment of rewards and what they signified of the runaways' relation to wider colonial society. Rewards were introduced in the mid-seventeenth century by public authorities and were payable in fixed amounts and stipulated commodity monies. These early settlement measures treated runaways as a social and disciplinary challenge to the common good. Thus, the earliest use of rewards developed within a publicly administered framework of corporate priorities and obligations and produced mixed results. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the use of printed newspaper notices transformed the pursuit of runaways into a public and private endeavor, enhancing established institutions and processes in the service of individual interests and market-oriented ends. Most important, private notices offered monetary rewards to potential pursuers and thus an assurance that their efforts would be recompensed in negotiable currency. In so doing, newspaper notices and rewards stigmatized runaway servants and enslaved workers in ways that fostered a sense of their alterity and subordination within civil society.