The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome back for week two! Things will be going quiet around the Junto for the next few days over Christmas, and on behalf of the entire Junto, we want to wish you a happy holiday. In the meantime we have a few links to tide you over when you need a few minutes to browse the internet.

End-of-Year Posts

At Civil War Memory, Kevin Levin shares his favorite new Civil War tomes from the past year.

Thomas Kidd discusses American views toward Christmas … in 1776, at the Patheos blog.


The Omohundro Institute is sponsoring a conference entitled, “Africans in the Americas: Making Lives in a New World, 1675-1825.” The Institute has just posted the schedule for the conference, which will be held at the University of the West Indies in Barbados from March 14 to 17, 2013.

In an essay in the New York Review of Books, Princeton historian James McPherson argues for the importance of the Emancipation
. “The proclamation,” he writes, “officially turned the Union army into an army of liberation—if it could win the war.” [h/t The Dish]

The Civil War Trust posted a pretty meaty interview with James Oakes on his new book, Freedom National: The Destruction of
Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865

Daniel K. Richter reviews Bernard Bailyn’s new tome, The Barbarous Years, and finds its coverage and accounting of Native American history severely lacking.

Gordon Belt at The Posterity Project profiles James Roberts Gilmore, an early biographer of the first Governor of Tennessee, John Sevier.


Several institutions of interest to the early Americanist community announced their annual research fellowship competitions this week:


If you don’t keep an eye on American History TV on C-SPAN3, you should definitely check it out this weekend to see Historiann lecture on the history of women’s undergarments. Her post includes some background on how she became interested in the topic, why she includes it in her American Women’s History course, and a bibliography.

News and Notes

Todd Andrlik (@RagLinen) and J.L. Bell (@Boston1775) penned an op-ed in the Boston Globe on the importance of newspapers during the Revolution. (Preaching to the choir around The Junto, but not everybody knows, so keep spreading the word!)

Book history is having quite the week: Jennifer Howard at the Chronicle offered a fantastically rich look inside efforts to study the history of reading, and The New York Times published an article on the history of paperwork.

Since the Newtown shooting, David Silbey and Margaret Sankey have posted notes on what “keeping and bearing arms” meant in the eighteenth century, and Akhil Reed Amar, Saul Cornell, and Jeffrey Toobin have published pithy commentaries on the history of Second Amendment interpretation. A few months ago, William Hogeland wrote about the “muddled legacy” of the Second Amendment, a piece that is of renewed interest this week.

On the BBC’s In Our Time podcast this week, Melvyn Bragg interviews Anne Murphy, Helen Paul, and Roey Sweet about the South Sea Bubble and its ramifications far beyond 1720s London.

And last but not least, Deadspin ranks the amendments to the Constitution.

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