Review: Jessica Choppin Roney, Governed by a Spirit of Opposition

Governed by a Spirit of Opposition: The Origins of American Political Practice in Colonial Philadelphia. By Jessica Choppin Roney. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. Pp. 272. $59.95).

CaptureIn recent years, early American political history has received considerable attention. A range of historians have enriched our understanding of how Americans participated in and contributed to politics in the early republic.[1] Popular politics during the colonial period has received less attention.[2] But in Governed by a Spirit of Opposition, part of Studies in Early American Economy and Society from the Library Company of Philadelphia, Jessica Choppin Roney focuses on politics in Philadelphia prior to the American Revolution. In so doing, she makes an important contribution to the field of early American history. Continue reading

Review: Janet Polasky, Revolutions Without Borders

Janet Polasky, Revolutions Without Borders: The Call to Liberty in the Atlantic World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015).

R. R. Palmer’s Age of Democratic Revolutions famously had no room in its two volumes for what many of us now recognise as the most revolutionary of them all—the one in Haiti between 1791 and 1804.[1] Janet Polasky has written a version for our own time, in which black men and white women mingle with the better-known protagonists of American, French, Dutch, and other, less successful revolutions in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Revolutions Without Borders is no analytical, comparative account, but an histoire croisée in which people and texts are constantly on the move, interacting with each other in all sorts of ways, setting off unexpected sparks. Continue reading

Guest Post: Writing the Book Proposal

Today’s guest poster, Craig W. Gill, is the Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Director of the University Press of Mississippi. He has worked at the Press for more than 17 years and has served in publishing for almost 25 years. He acquires primarily in American history, Southern history, Caribbean history, folklore, and music, as well as regional books on Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Gulf South.

10419036_10206199988895624_9006360509666085073_nAlmost all university presses prefer to first receive a proposal from a potential author, rather than a full manuscript. Alas, no editor anywhere has the time to read the huge number of manuscripts that come our way, and the situation would be even worse if we attempted to read manuscripts from every potential author seeking a publisher. This makes the proposal an ideal introduction to a topic and a crucial step in the process towards publication. Although an author may have chatted with an editor prior to submitting a proposal (if not then I urge you to get to an academic conference and chat up editors in the exhibit hall), the proposal is the first formal representation of a book project from the author to the publisher. Continue reading

Q&A: Abigail Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire

9780300187540-1Abigail Swingen is an Assistant Professor of History at Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX). She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. She specializes in the Early Modern British Atlantic Political Economy. Competing Visions of Empire is her first book and was reviewed here yesterday. The following is part of our (relatively) new tradition of reviewing a book and then offering a Q & A with the author the following day. [NB: You can find my review from yesterday here.] Continue reading

Review: Abigail Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire

Abigail L. Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015).

9780300187540-1There have been some fantastic new contributions of late that explore connections between slavery, economics, and empire. In his 2008 analysis of the American political economy, economic historian Gavin Wright concluded that the dependence on slave labor came not because of any institutional efficiency on the part of plantations, but rather, that no other form of coerced labor could have been made to meet the labor demands. Sven Beckart’s Bancroft Prize-winning book, Empire of Cotton, analyzes connections between cotton, and the slave labor behind it, and the rise of modern capitalism. Ed Baptist’s book, The Half Has Never Been Told, explores slavery’s role in the making of American capitalism.

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Review: Andrew Beaumont, Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761

Andrew D. M. Beaumont, Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748–1761. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

NB: This review is written by frequent guest poster, Christopher F. Minty, the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and Eugene Lang College at The New School for Liberal Arts.

Andrew Beaumont has written a provoking biography of George Montagu Dunk, second earl of Halifax (1716–1771) that covers the crucial period between 1748 and 1761. This book offers a re-evaluation of how we understand colonial American politics and, by implication, it forces us to reconsider the origins of the American Revolution.It also reorients our understanding of British figures who wanted to centralize the Empire during the eighteenth century. For Beaumont, we should look less at the familiar cast of characters: George Grenville; the Earl of Bute; William Pitt, later Lord Chatham; and Lord North. There are others, of course. But, we are familiar with these men. We know their stories. We know their contributions. Beaumont does not argue that we should look away from these men. Rather, he argues that we should look at other “ambitious men” and how they affected the British Empire. In this book, Beaumont examines the “Father of the Colonies,” the Earl of Halifax. Continue reading

“Your Most Affectionate Friend…”

Founding Friendships

Even as nineteenth-century biographers sought to ignore or suppress it, there’s rarely been much shortage of gossip about the sex lives of the Founding Fathers. Cassandra Good’s new book, Founding Friendships: Friendships between Men and Women in the Early American Republic (OUP, 2015), offers a warning to readers of eighteenth-century relationships who can be all too ready to embrace the temptations of scandal—these letters might sometimes look like thin veils for a seething sexuality beneath, “but a careful consideration of how people expressed emotion and an openness to the notion that men and women could be friends offers new, more nuanced readings,” Good argues. Scandalizing male-female relationships only serves to place them beyond the purview of ordinary life. Founding Friendships reminds us that women’s presence in the world shouldn’t come as a surprise, and that their roles were never limited to wives, mothers, and sex-objects. Continue reading