Summer 2021, Vol. 19.3
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When news reached London that the Powhatan Confederacy had mounted an assault on the Virginia colony in March 1622, the loss of colonists, infrastructure, and goods came to the Virginia Company of London as crisis among crises. Colonists were resisting efforts to diversify the colony's commodities and shareholders were growing impatient with the lack of dividends. The Virginia Company responded to news of the attack by embarking on a print publication campaign to depict the violence not as a mere incursion but as a "massacre." This article examines this publication campaign to argue that the Virginia Company leveraged its corporate rhetoric to convert the violence of the so-called massacre into a dividend for shareholders and a vindication of the company's economic program. Ultimately, the article argues that we must read the Virginia Company's publications through the lens of corporate strategy—not as reportage but as active efforts to generate capital.
Map Scarcity in Early Colonial New England
This article argues that English colonists in New England chose not to make maps between 1620 and 1642 because they had more suitable techniques and technologies available to them, including the superior knowledge of their Algonquian neighbors and their own traditional approaches to measuring land. However, internal and external pressures eventually forced the colonists to begin making maps. As population and demand for land rapidly increased in New England in the 1640s and beyond, the early attempts of the English at cooperative distribution of land were abandoned in favor of a system that emphasized private property, and, consequently, precise boundaries. In these new circumstances, maps served as a powerful tool that settlers used to claim land and defend it from encroachment. Finally, the creation of the Dominion of New England and the arrival of royal officials and map makers in the 1680s completed the transition to a cartographic spatial culture. Despite this, New Englanders had ignored revolutionary developments in map making taking place in England for decades and created a spatial culture unique to New England.
Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War often suffered imprisonment in consequence of their political beliefs. In no location was this more the case than the Hudson River Valley of New York. Faced with the British occupation of New York City to the south, Crown-controlled Canada to the north, and British-allied Indigenous peoples to the west, Revolutionaries in the region found themselves surrounded by hostile forces. Fearing that Loyalists would revolt in support of the British army, Patriots turned to incarceration on an unprecedented scale to ensure the success of the Revolution. Revolutionaries mobilized the broader citizenry of the Hudson Valley to vigilantly monitor any potential enemies. Loyalists, neutralists, and even some unfortunate Patriots found themselves confined in close quarters. Suspected Loyalists were placed in jails, forts, and even on prison ships. Revolutionaries often struggled to find adequate space for the incarcerated population. With a significant proportion of Loyalists held captive, many Crown supporters were unable to join British forces when the army campaigned in the Hudson Valley. Thus, this essay shows how the "mass incarceration" of suspected Loyalists helped Revolutionaries win the war by preventing the British from tapping into a reservoir of Loyalist support.
Indian-hating, a critical building block of white nationalism during the early American republic, was built from the grassroots by printers who were also local citizens with their own personal and political axes to grind. The Pennsylvanian Archibald Loudon was one of these printers. His two-volume collection of frontier captivity, war, and atrocity narratives, titled A Selection of Some of the Most Interesting Narratives, of Outrages, Committed by the Indians, in Their Wars with the White People, epitomizes how printers collected and disseminated local stories of Indigenous violence—filtered through the lenses of their own partisan politics—to generate hatred for Indians on the eve of the War of 1812. This essay tells the story of Loudon and his Selection. It analyzes how Loudon's experiences as a colonial frontier refugee, Revolutionary War soldier, stalwart Democratic-Republican, and friend of the writer and politician Hugh Henry Brackenridge made him into an Indian-hater. It also assesses his two-volume Selection as a remarkable collection of local stories that framed the violent as well as the noble acts of local Native peoples and the harrowing tales of white martyrs and settlers who survived so as to influence national conversations about race and belonging, politics and war in the early republic.
While traveling to India in 1812 as part of the first cohort of foreign missionaries from the United States, Adoniram Judson and his wife, Ann Hasseltine Judson, decided to leave the Congregational faith of their New England sponsors and become Baptists. Their conversion is usually credited with giving U.S. Baptists an opportunity to join the nascent foreign missions movement, and the movement itself has often been attributed to a sense of national destiny among U.S. evangelicals. But rather than expressing confidence in their national identity, Baptist leaders emphasized their membership in a trans-Atlantic denomination. They relied on British connections as they negotiated their position within the missions movement as well as the religious landscape of the United States. In the years before and after Judson's conversion, U.S. Baptist leaders publicized their trans-Atlantic relationships as a way of enhancing the legitimacy of their denomination in New England, and they worked with British Baptists to increase American Baptist involvement in foreign missions. This essay examines how U.S. relationships with British Baptists and experiences with foreign missions ultimately helped shape American Baptists' sense of purpose as they found new roles alongside their British counterparts as well as other U.S. Protestants.
This essay shows how Black Americans responded to and challenged scientific racism in the mid-nineteenth century. Specifically, it focuses on how they adopted and coopted the disciplines of physiognomy and phrenology—two sciences based on the notion that people's heads and faces revealed their moral and mental capacity. As recent scholarship has demonstrated, disciplines like physiognomy and phrenology provided the ideological scaffolding for later versions of scientific racism. This article tells a different story. By focusing on how African American intellectuals strategically analyzed heads and faces, it exposes how people of color engaged with antebellum race theory, reformulating it in unique ways and for their own purposes. Although white people relied on physiognomic "evidence" to argue that African Americans were mentally and physically inferior beings, Black Americans coopted the very discourses that undergirded the rise of racial essentialism, crafting an alternative science of facial analysis to argue for racial equality. When wielded by Black hands, physiognomy and phrenology did not solidify white supremacy; they instead became tools for vindicating the mental capacities of people of color.
Consider the Source
Wilmot Vaughan's A Plan for the better Government of British America, 1769: Imperial Fantasies in the Throes of Crisis
Peter Jakob Olsen-Harbich
This essay introduces and prints for the first time Wilmot Vaughan's A Plan for the better Government of British America (1769). Vaughan authored this manuscript, currently held by the New-York Historical Society, while serving a single-year term on the Board of Trade. Vaughan believed that the imperial crisis would lead inexorably to an American revolution if Britain failed to radically alter the constitutional basis and institutional apparatus of its empire. To prevent such a revolt, he recommended thirty-seven distinct reforms, including the creation of a new "Kingdom of North America and the Isles," one governed by an American parliament and headed by an executive Lord Lieutenant lodged in a fortified Bostonian palace. Though some of Vaughan's recommendations were prescient, others reflect a complete misunderstanding of the mentality and politics of Britain's white North American colonists, particularly his prescriptions for Anglican establishments and Indigenous delegations to the new American parliament. A Plan for the better Government of British America reveals the limits of imagination and the extent of ignorance among Britain's imperialists as its American colonies hurdled toward rebellion in the 1760s.
Spring 2021, Vol. 19.2
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Empowering Appetites: The Political Economy and Culture of Food in the Early Atlantic World
Jennifer L. Anderson, Anya Zilberstein
This special issue of Early American Studies explores the dynamic relationship between food and power in the early modern Atlantic world. Originating from papers initially presented at a conference co-convened in October 2018 at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, "Empowering Appetites" interrogates the complex political, economic, cultural, and environmental histories of food and diet in a range of maritime, plantation, and settler-colonial contexts between the seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries. Part of the inspiration for this conference—and this publication—arose from the resurgent scholarly interest in food and drink as vital topics of historical inquiry in early American and Atlantic studies.
CULTURES OF SUSTENANCE
Our Best Places: Gender, Food Sovereignty, and Miantonomi's Kin on the Connecticut River
The composite phrase, "our best places," expresses what was at stake in early Indigenous struggles for self-determination and well-being and against colonial invasion in northeastern North America. This article critiques the colonial archive's representation of hyper-masculine Native resistance, by instead asking questions about women's labor and knowledge, about diverse cultivated and foraged plants, and about the place-based dimensions of food sovereignty. Narragansett sachem Miantonomi's organizing activities across the Native Northeast in the early 1640s can be reframed and better understood by applying place-based methodologies to specific sites within the intertribal alliance: in this case, by centering Miantonomi's strong ties of diplomacy and kinship at Suckiaug/Hartford and other Wangunk villages along the lower-middle Connecticut River. There, Wangunk women's knowledge of diverse wetland plants on the floodplains and in the coves of the Connecticut River was integral to food sovereignty. Following recent work in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), and drawing on insights from archaeology, environmental history, and political ecology, this essay reconstructs an alternative version of Miantonomi's message to allies at Suckiaug and other inland freshwater sites, replacing colonial authorities' obsession with masculine assertions of Native power with more diverse and nuanced affirmations of gendered environmental knowledge, power over the best places, and collective sustenance.
In the borderlands of northeastern North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, hunger forced colonists and Native Americans to eat substances they found disgusting. This article reads captivity narratives and missionary accounts to argue that disgust fundamentally tested, transgressed, and reified cultural boundaries in the borderlands, while shaping the archive of early American foodways. In doing so, this article historicizes the concept of disgust and its formation in early America, and examines how colonial disgust formed perceptions of Indigenous food supplies. English and French settlers recorded their disgust with Indian food and claimed that Indigenous people could not even conceptualize disgust. The rhetorical aims of this literature of disgust shaped the colonial written archive, which records far fewer incidences of Native disgust. Nevertheless, these same sources document Native experiences of revulsion at colonial foodways and the foodways of other Native nations, which complicate the colonial narrative of the absence of Indian revulsion. A case study of fermentation and decay in Native and colonial foodways demonstrates that colonists saw Native fermented foods as rotten and thereby understated Native Americans' food supplies, contributing to an imperial discourse on Indigenous "poverty," food systems, and land use that sought to justify colonialism.
In 1615, the steady stream of bad news about the Virginia Company's Jamestown project was suddenly reversed with the publication of Ralph Hamor's famous True Discourse, which brought the unexpected, almost providential news of Pocahontas's conversion and marriage. The True Discourse described such a sudden and dramatic change in Virginia's fortunes that it required careful attention to concerns of credibility. Hamor and the Virginia Company drew on a collection of texts that aimed to instruct travelers how to render their observations and conclusions credible to readers. In the True Discourse, they assembled a sort of composite text whose final section claimed to provide direct insight into the 'honest inward intentions' of the Chesapeake Algonquians. Although this section was replete with snubs and slights, Hamor preserved these details in order to present himself as a particular sort of eyewitness observer: critical, meticulous, and objective, recording details but leaving his readers to draw inferences themselves. Most of the details that Hamor believed would win his readers' trust in this way related to the foods he was offered, and especially venison, which was a symbol of trust and mutual regard so deeply rooted as to complement Hamor's stance as "objective" observer perfectly.
In the second half of the eighteenth century, French physician Antoine Poissonnier-Desperrièresproposed a fully vegetarian diet for the French Navy in an attempt to combat the effects of scurvy. France was investing heavily in revitalizing its Navy after the Seven Years War in an effort to gain ground against Britain after substantial French losses in the Atlantic world, and scurvy had a devastating impact on these efforts. Desperrières occupied a privileged position in the French Navy that allowed him to implement his plans on a limited number of naval expeditions, although his experimental vegetarian naval ration proved a failure at both preventing scurvy and convincing the Navy to change the ration for dependent sailors. Desperrières' ideas drew from the rise of scientific food expertise in France in this period, if not from the long history of principled vegetarianism in Europe, and his trials contributed to the longstanding cultures of empiricism that marked knowledge production in the Atlantic world. Nevertheless, Desperrières' theories of the causes and cures for scurvy reflected enduring conceptions of the relationship between human bodies, the foods they consumed, and the maritime environment. To his disappointment, Desperrières remained a marginal figure in the wider debates over scurvy that celebrated contemporaries such as James Lind and James Cook.
This article examines how debates and policies concerning the nutritional standards of West Indian slaves were shaped by comparisons to the eating habits of other laboring and impoverished groups in early nineteenth-century Britain and the Empire. Planters and abolitionists argued over the relative adequacy of slaves' sustenance vis-à-vis European laborers since at least the late-eighteenth century. Proslavery figures insisted that the supposed ease of procuring subsistence in tropical colonies rendered such comparisons largely moot. However, abolitionists increasingly mobilized data on the food consumption of English agricultural workers, prisoners, and other subjects in order to prove that the typical rations given to many slaves in the sugar colonies created conditions of malnourishment and population decline. Abolitionists' empirical efforts to quantify slaves' sustenance influenced policies crafted by the Colonial Office to establish a universal scale of food allowances for enslaved laborers on the eve of Emancipation—one of the most advanced dietary reforms concerning a laboring population in the early nineteenth-century British Empire. While the Colonial Office's ration was only partially implemented throughout the slave colonies, the questions that it sparked about what constituted adequate nourishment for plantation labor shaped subsequent debates over the Emancipation Act (1833) and the Apprenticeship System (1834–38).
Potatoes, Populations, and States
Today, dietary guidelines, healthy-eating pyramids, and other nutritional advice are a familiar and expected feature of governance. It was not always so. What we eat has not always been of such interest to the state. That people ate was of course very important; since ancient times rulers have feared the disruptive effects of famine. The minutiae of what ordinary folk ate, in contrast, was rarely considered an important component of statecraft. Over the course of the eighteenth century, however, the diet of working people acquired an unprecedented importance within European notions of statecraft, because of its perceived capacity to foster or impede the development of a higher-quality population. This article reviews these developments, to show how during the Enlightenment, everyday eating habits acquired political relevance. Although scholars often identify the twentieth century as the period when food became an object of governance, food's important instrument of modern statecraft has a much longer history.
Winter 2021, Vol. 19.1
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Domestic Alchemy: Huswifery and Gold in Colonial New England
Zachary McLeod Hutchins
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, English explorers and settlers disagreed about the importance of converting their North American holdings into precious metals. Whereas Martin Frobisher and John Winthrop Jr. regarded alchemy as a pathway to prosperity, Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor regarded rumors of mineral wealth in the New World as red herrings distracting English colonists from their true purpose and motives. The poems of Bradstreet and Taylor relocate the wealth of the Americas from gold and silver mines to household economies and familial relations. They promote huswifery and its domestic products as the primary purpose of English colonization, celebrating kitchen alchemy as an alternative to the extraction and refinement of precious metals in colonial mining operations. Lauding the metamorphic potential of women's work, their poetics of domesticity invites readers to reconsider the priorities of American colonization by finding wealth in the household goods and relational wealth of kitchen hearths rather than in the gold sought by Frobisher, Winthrop, and others.
This essay situates the life of Mary Kittamaquund Brent, the so-called "Pocahontas of Maryland," within the larger context of intercultural diplomacy in seventeenth-century Maryland. It argues that the marriage between Mary, an eleven-year-old girl and the daughter of the Tayac (chief) of the Piscataway Confederacy, and Giles Brent, a forty-year-old member of a wealthy English Catholic family, demonstrates that sex and reproduction were key strategies for establishing diplomatic relationships between groups and for securing power in a particularly tumultuous time. Illuminating Mary Kittamaquund Brent's position as an embodied locus of power struggles between Chesapeake tribes and Anglo-Marylanders discloses both the role of Indigenous women in diplomacy and the importance of kinship in interethnic alliances. This article provides a brief background of Piscataway and Maryland colonial history, contextualizes the marriage of Giles and Mary Kittamaquund Brent, analyzes the place of sex and reproduction in western shore diplomacy, and considers Mary Kittamaquund Brent's place in the history of the seventeenth-century Chesapeake.
In January 1731, the Pennsylvania General Assembly impeached William Fishbourn, the official responsible for managing the provincial paper currency, for misappropriating "diverse great sums of the public money bills of credit to his own use" and for staging a burglary to cover-up the embezzlement. Fishbourn was not the first colonial public servant to be charged with financial malfeasance, and he would not be the last accused of embezzling Pennsylvania's paper currency. He was, however, the first to be subjected to a lengthy and antagonistic audit that caught him out when he was unable to come up with the paper notes thought to be in his care. In the conduct of the audit and the subsequent inquiry into the alleged burglary, as well as in Fishbourn's defense, we glimpse the changing tenor of debate around the practice of public finance, the difficulties of managing a novel paper currency, and how provincial notes quickly became a powerful policy tool and political weapon in the increasingly vitriolic debates concerning provincial taxation, debt, and the balance of trade.
Politics in British America often centered on the issue of currency. Competing ideas about the nature of money and what constituted just relations of credit and debt also pervaded everyday colonial culture. By the late seventeenth century, some mid-Atlantic colonists believed that colonial debt laws and powerful urban merchants' monopolization of coin led to the appropriation of debtors' land and labor. Assembly emissions of bills of credit in New York and Pennsylvania in the 1710s and 1720s eased many debtors' burdens, but the creation of provincial paper monies enhanced rather than diminished money's importance as an object of social and political controversy in the region. By the middle of the eighteenth century, supporters of paper money believed that bills of credit uniquely embodied liberty, possessing the power to maintain ordinary inhabitants' independence. Monetary scarcity, by contrast, portended dispossession and bondage. This article analyzes the petitions, pamphlets, editorials, broadsides, and crowd actions that contributed to the creation of a distinctive culture of money in the mid-Atlantic between the 1670s and 1760s.
T. H. Breen's The Marketplace of Revolution reshaped Revolutionary War scholarship by arguing that protesting British taxes on material goods both galvanized and united colonists from multiple backgrounds. Essays published in Rhode Island's Newport Mercury demonstrate, however, that arguments in favor of home textile production in the British North American colonies were not confined solely to protesting colonists. The months leading up to the Stamp Act crisis in 1765 saw twenty such articles by colonists who would identify as Loyalists during the Revolutionary War; the years following the Stamp Act crisis saw twenty-three articles by colonists who would identify as Patriots arguing in favor of home textile production in Rhode Island. The Second Calico Act in 1721 had stated that residents of the British Isles could only purchase British-made textiles, but that American colonists were to be encouraged to purchase imported fabrics from India. The break caused by the American Revolution would come in time, but for the moment, Rhode Island colonists were eager to claim their right to the privileges and protections of British subjecthood through their identities as textile-producing Britons.
The history of indentured migration to seventeenth-century English America relies heavily on a single body of sources known as the London record, a collection of contracts and registrations of servants who emigrated from the capital between 1683 and 1686. Of the original 1,000 contracts, 189 have long been considered to be missing. This article uses methods from the study of paperwork and print culture to demonstrate that Huntington Library item HM 1365 is one of those missing contracts. Read as a part of its parent collection, this indenture is evidence of how the writing and archiving of late seventeenth-century transatlantic service contracts functioned to constrain would-be servants' choices and protections during recruitment and servitude, while legitimizing new and exploitative practices in colonial labor relations.
Fall 2020, Vol. 18.4
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This study explores the relationship between geographic knowledge and imaginative geographies in the early modern English Atlantic. As is exemplified by English efforts to colonize Providence Island, the Western Design and the economic activities it set in motion, and English and Scottish plans to colonize the Darien region of Panama, everyday geographic knowledge contributed to and was informed by English imaginative geographies in ways that shaped English plans to occupy or attack Central America. Despite a maturation of governing institutions, scientific practices, and commercial networks that gathered geographic information by the last quarter of the seventeenth century, imaginative geographies obscured a more sober assessment of Central America's complex social and physical realities—especially in spaces controlled by indigenous peoples living outside colonial control. That greater geographic experience did not contribute to improved designs presents a paradox for a model that expects knowledge accumulation to advance its utility. Instead, geographic knowledge in the seventeenth century informed imperial designs via imaginative geographies built on myths, perceptions, and desires, blurring distinctions between the two.
Security, Taxation, and the Imperial System in Jamaica, 1721–1782
Trevor Burnard, Aaron Graham
White Jamaicans paid relatively high rates of taxation to support a powerful and assertive imperial state in schemes of settlement and security. They paid such taxes willingly because they were satisfied with what they got from the state. Furthermore, they believed they had a significant stake in the processes by which taxes were collected and spent. The power of the colonial state depended on the empire being a loose fraternal alliance. Nevertheless, what worked for imperial and colonial Jamaica did not necessarily work elsewhere. Jamaica provides a case study of how the imperial state worked satisfactorily for imperial rulers and those colonists whom they ruled when both the state and colonial settlers shared common beliefs and when negotiations made it clear that the interests of all parties coincided.
This essay argues that commerce, and concerns about commerce, played a significant role in driving U.S. elites to define the 1780s as a period of "crisis," shaping both the drive toward constitutional reform and the postconstitutional order. At the outset of independence, American Revolutionaries had grand ambitions for their international trade. They imagined that commerce would be the lifeblood of their new nation's prosperity and security. When the postwar economic situation failed to live up to these great expectations, many Revolutionaries felt that their entire national project was threatened. Commercial crisis provided Americans with a reason to reexamine government under the Articles of Confederation, and then a motive to reform it—a process culminating in the U.S. Constitution and the framing of a new commercial system in the First Federal Congress. Examining the role of trade in the "Critical Period" reveals how the "private" world of commerce intertwined closely with the "public" work of nation-building, contributing more to the dynamics of U.S. political development than historians have at times acknowledged. Reflecting American leaders' theoretical, moral, and practical investment in international trade, the consequences of the commercial crisis of the 1780s are usefully understood as constitutional.
In the 1820s and 1830s, many Americans were fascinated by Napoleon. After his death in 1821, biographies of the French emperor circulated widely in the United States and Jacques-Louis David's painting of his coronation attracted visitors throughout the country. Conduct books lauded the emperor's character, and travelers to France enthusiastically recounted viewing the fallen hero's robes. Against the backdrop of an age that saw both the much-lauded rise of the common man and endeavors to culturally disentangle the United States from Europe, this fascination with a foreign emperor is intriguing. Telling the story of Napoleon as a success story of self-making, however, allowed Americans across party lines to ease tensions between the ongoing appeal of courtly glamour and republican ideals. Acknowledging that this emperor was a self-made man seemed to legitimize the enthrallment with imperial pomp. At the same time, in the context of American westward expansion, the rise of an entertainment culture, and the emerging culture of selffashioning, the French emperor became a lens through which to view contemporary questions of revolution and empire, glamour and spectacle, upward mobility, and the structure of the young nation's social fabric.
Summer 2020, Vol. 18.3
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Intent on preserving their plantations, eighteenth-century British slaveholders created a rhetoric that naturalized African labor in the Caribbean. Examining this history demonstrates the ways in which slavery and the environment are deeply entwined. In the late eighteenth century, West Indian planters began to fear for the long-term future of their plantations on two fronts. First, planters suspected that their enthusiasm for clear-cutting in attempts to maximize cropland had reduced precipitation and made the climate drier. While medical theories held that less rainfall was beneficial to human health, crops began to suffer from drought conditions. Second, parliamentary hearings on the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade threatened the labor supply on plantations. Seeking to preserve the trade, planters argued that only Africans could perform difficult labor, including clearing wooded land, in the West Indies. A close examination of planters' writings demonstrates that their arguments for African labor were in fact early articulations of environmental racism, as they deliberately placed black bodies in environmentally hazardous situations. Considering climatic change and abolition debates together shows how race is essential to the environmental history of the West Indies.
In eighteenth-century North America, slavery was a powerful economic pillar supporting the printing business. Runaway advertisements, for example, were a lucrative and consistent source of revenue for printers. But there was another, largely unnoticed link between slavery and print capitalism: thousands of newspaper advertisements directed readers to "enquire of the printer" for information about the sale of enslaved people. These notices put printers in a position to bring together buyers and sellers of enslaved human beings—effectively acting as brokers of the slave trade. Most printers in eighteenth-century North America seem to have engaged in this practice. Despite complaints from a few late eighteenth-century antislavery writers, who recognized the hypocrisy of placing these advertisements alongside materials that advanced a revolutionary vision of political liberty, American printers continued to broker slave sales until their economic incentives shifted in the early nineteenth century. If newspapers aided the creation of American Revolutionary and national politics, as scholars have long argued, they also contributed to the perpetuation of slavery and the slave trade. Print culture was inextricable from the culture of slavery, just as print capitalism was slavery's capitalism.
This article explores the German-speaking merchant community that arose in mid-eighteenth-century Philadelphia, and its members' efforts to integrate themselves and fellow Central European immigrants into British systems of commerce, credit, law, and politics. These naturalized merchants developed commercial ties around the Atlantic—in Great Britain, Iberia, and the Caribbean—and worked to align their largely colinguistic customer bases with British tastes and goods. They also sought to assist new arrivals through their civic and political engagement, especially through the newly formed German Society of Pennsylvania. After decades of striving to integrate themselves into the British Empire, Philadelphia's German merchants emerged as vocal critics of Parliament's imperial reforms in the late 1760s. They feared that the new laws subverted their economic gains and equality as naturalized subjects. By the 1770s German merchants financed the Patriot war effort and served within the newly independent Pennsylvania government. The merchants' activities reveal how Central Europeans, despite originating beyond Europe's metropoles, became trans-formative figures in the eighteenth-century Atlantic economy as well as in Great Britain's empire and its fracturing in North America.
This article discusses the Canadian republicans' goals during their armed uprising against the British Empire in 1837–38, and analyzes the political and geopolitical North American order in the late 1830s. Whereas the Canadian Rebellion is usually segmented into multiple isolated and short-lived uprisings by historians, this article proposes a more connected North American history that reconsiders the Canadian republicans' ambitions and contributes to a better understanding of the pro-British and conservative American policy during the Jacksonian period. When they rebelled, the republicans, or "patriots," of Lower and Upper Canada envisioned forming sovereign states within the American union. However, although many Americans supported an annexation of the two Canadian colonies, U.S. President Martin Van Buren, the Congress, and Wall Street actively collaborated with the British to crush the attempted revolution. In sharp contrast with the War of Independence and the War of 1812, the United States opposed Canadian republicanism in the late 1830s in order to maintain an Anglo-American continental order. In reaction to this alliance, the revolutionaries began to conceive a new republican experiment, distinct from the "corrupted" American republic, and to imagine a new nation—the "Twin Stars" Republic of the two Canadas.
Spring 2020, Vol. 18.2
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In September 1817 officials of the Russian colony of Ross drafted a protocol of a meeting held with the Kashaya Pomos, the Bodega Miwoks, and other Native Americans. The protocol described how the Russians had promised gifts and military protection to their Native American allies in exchange for the right to continue occupying Métini, a Kashaya Pomo–controlled territory about eighty-five miles north of San Francisco. Soon, reports of the meeting had made their way up and down the coast and across the Pacific, as Native Americans, Russian imperial ministers, and diplomats from Russia's imperial rivals debated its significance. This essay describes how the Russian-American Company used the protocol and other agreements with Native Americans to lay claim to coastal territories, and how Russia's imperial rivals disputed such claims. It argues that company officials used documentation of Native American signs of consent, such as speeches and gestures, to assert ownership of Métini, while Spain disputed the validity of agreements with Native Americans. The meaning that Russian officials assigned to Native Americans' consent enabled the Kashaya Pomos, the Bodega Miwoks, and other groups to exert some influence over Russian colonization and trade.
When Carmelite nuns from Europe crossed the Atlantic in the late eighteenth century to found the first women's convent in the original United States, they brought with them a poetic tradition that can be traced back to the founder of the reformed Carmelite order, Saint Teresa of Avila. In poems that describe their struggles in Europe to escape religious repression, their arduous ocean voyage to America, and finally the foundation of the first convent for religious women in the state of Maryland, the Carmelites who traveled from Europe to the United States both recounted their extraordinary experiences and paid homage to their spiritual mother, Teresa of Avila, who had instigated a tradition of convent poetry in sixteenth-century Spain hundreds of years earlier. These previously unstudied and unpublished poems, presented in this article for the first time, are the earliest known evidence of the spirituality and literary tradition of Teresa of Avila in the United States.
A controversy over land in the Grand River Valley of Michigan reached the United States Attorney General's office in 1837. The quarrel warrants attention not only because the lands had value but because it engaged several groups with competing understandings of their rights to property. Native Americans confronted settlers, who confronted one another. At one level, the dispute pitted two forms of customary rights—one exercised by Indians and the other by squatters—against the demands of capital and the discipline of the state. But on another level, the contest reveals how in the early national period, irregular settlers could look to law, Native people could speak the language of improvement and look to text, and advocates of federal order could invoke imaginary violence.
Lewis Henry Morgan has long been regarded as one of U.S. anthropology's founders. Much of the recent scholarship on Morgan explores his depiction of indigenous culture and his theory of progress. Focusing on his early thought, this article demonstrates how in the 1840s he moved from a moralistic to an increasingly ethnological understanding of advancement, and how his evolving view of Native peoples and the human passions underpinned this change. As a temperance reformer in the early 1840s, Morgan equated progress with economic growth, territorial expansion, and the spread of democracy. Additionally, he feared that the immoral passions of drinkers, radicals, and Native peoples threatened these gains. By 1843 he began attributing to European colonists the destructive passions he had formerly assigned to indigenous peoples, and came to view progress as a destructive force detached from human agency and morality. His 1851 League of the Iroquois links the passions to progress, but he saw these drives primarily as social phenomena, some of which stymie advancement while others enhance it. This study thus links Morgan's early temperance work to the ideas expressed in League of the Iroquois and in his 1871 Ancient Society, illuminating the symbols that Victorian Americans employed to represent progress.
Summer 2019, Vol. 17.3
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This article investigates European and Euro-American desecrations of Native American graves from the early colonial period through the era of Indian Removal. It shows that though colonial-era grave desecration was driven by a variety of motives, such as animosity and greed for looted grave goods, from the time of the American Revolution grave desecration acquired an ideological dimension. By plundering and destroying the resting place of the Native dead, white American soldiers and citizens symbolically contested the continued indigenous ownership of territory claimed by the expansionistic U.S. republic. These acts of erasure represented a facet of the early republican myth of the "Vanishing Indian," and in the increasingly racialized climate of the early nineteenth-century era of Indian Removal, grave desecration imbued the ongoing process of dispossession and territorial conquest with scientific legitimacy, as the study and display of stolen Native remains and artifacts provided tangible evidence of the allegedly inevitable decline and disappearance of Native populations.
In response to a 1695 report of silver discovered in an "uninhabited" part of Carolina, the English Board of Trade commissioned the Carolina silver project. Richard Traunter, a factor in Colonel William Byrd's Virginia Indian trade and a partner in the silver project, led two overland journeys, in 1698 and 1699, to locate the silver mines and assess the viability of mineral extraction. Traunter traveled on Indian trade paths from Byrd's store at Appomattox, Virginia, to James Moore's residence on Goose Creek in South Carolina, and he recorded his journeys in "The Travels of Richard Traunter," an unpublished travel narrative. This article examines Traunter's "Travels" along with the silver project records of the Board of Trade and Treasury to investigate Moore's efforts to undermine the project and its partners so that he could secure for himself a similar royal patent for silver discovery. Additionally, this article analyzes Traunter's claims in "Travels" that his journeys contributed to the "common Good" of the English colonial enterprise, not only through the silver project, but by providing traders with route guidance and by establishing Anglo-Indian alliances he thought necessary to advance intercolonial commerce.
This study examines the role that British convict transportation and penal servitude in America played in the early history of humanitarianism. During the eighteenth century Britons' and Americans' ideas about moral obligations and suffering changed drastically toward traditionally detested people, including transported convicts, enslaved Africans, sailors, and the poor. Historians have made it clear that people in the eighteenth century created unprecedented ways to understand the human condition, and studying coerced labor of all kinds tells scholars more about how unfreedom shaped the language, ethics, and practices of the early stages of humanitarianism. In the eighteenth century British courts banished over 50,000 convicted men, women, and children to the American colonies, many of whom were sold as convict servants. This study argues that emerging ideas of punishment, morality, and unfreedom evoked by convict labor created new moral responsibilities, widened the plane of sympathies, and inspired novel denunciations of suffering in eighteenth century Anglo-American culture. Institutional banishment and convict servitude had unintentional consequences for both Britain and America, and moralists and elites constructed a new discursive environment that raised complex questions and generated new debates about labor, coercion, and cruelty in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution.
Swiss Myths: The Swiss Model and the American Constitution
Robert W. Smith
The founding generation made extensive use of history in the framing of the American republic. The Swiss confederation did not figure as prominently in American thought as ancient and English history, but it does illustrate how American statesmen used history in political arguments. John Adams saw the histories of the individual Swiss cantons as proof that every society, no matter how simple, needed a balanced government to preserve liberty. For the Federalists, the Swiss, along with all other loose confederacies, demonstrated the inadequacy of a league of friendship, as provided by the Articles of Confederation, and the need for a stronger union. The Anti-Federalists made great use of Swiss history in two particulars. First, they saw the Swiss as a successful confederacy, pointing to its survival rather than its instability. The Swiss demonstrated there was no need for a stronger union. Furthermore, the Anti-Federalists believed the Swiss proved that a nation could survive in the midst of hostile nations without recourse to a standing army. The Framers' use of Swiss history demonstrated how their reading of history was shaped by their political agendas.