The Week in Early American History

TWEAHGood morning, and welcome to another edition of The Week in Early American History. Lots going on this week, so let’s get straight to the links.

State of the Field

Last month the journal Itinerario hosted a forum on Facebook with Harvard historian David Armitage, with the provocative question, “Are We All Global Historians Now?” Carolien Stolte summarizes the discussion and the experiment of using Facebook as a discussion board.

It’s not American history, but E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class has shaped the thinking of many a scholar on this side of the Atlantic (and many an Americanist graduate student has encountered it one way or another). Katrina Navickas notes several celebrations of the book’s fiftieth anniversary this year.

HNN is now conducting a poll based on ten finalists to determine the “Most Important Document in American History.” I’m sure at least Seth would agree with me that it’s disappointing to see the Bible, which I would argue is easily in the Top 10, not make the cut.

Upcoming Deadlines

Applications for the McNeil Center’s dissertation fellowship program are due February 1 (which is, shockingly, just six days away).

SHEAR and the University of Pennsylvania Press are soliciting entries for a manuscript prize (also due February 1). The award includes a book contract with Penn and publication in its Early American Studies series.

Public Policy Debates

Lawrence Peskin explores the deep history of American captivity in Algeria, drawing parallels between this month’s crisis and the Algerian corsairs who harassed American shipping in the 1790s.

Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia has included $4.3 million in appropriations for the Georgia State Archives in his 2014 budget proposal, keeping (so far) his promise to fund the institution after the Secretary of State threatened to shut it down completely last fall.

But just as Georgia seems to settle down, here we go again: now South Carolina is contemplating severe cuts to its State Archives budget.

With gun control back in the national discussion, debate about the origins of the Second Amendment has heated up again. Last week, Thom Hartmann published a piece on arguing that the amendment was intended to protect slave patrols in the South (and Virginia in particular). Paul Finkelman rebuts that claim at The Root and shows why that claim is a stretch.

Then and Now

Jim Wald commemorates the birth of Isaiah Thomas (the Revolutionary-era printer and founder of the American Antiquarian Society, not the destroyer of NBA teams and entire leagues) by examining one of the earliest accessions at the Antiquarian Society, a set of documents from Thomas Jefferson that highlights a debate about race with Benjamin Banneker.

Writing at Humanities, Amy Turner Bushnell relates the tale of the wreck of the Reformation off the coast of Florida in 1696, based on the diary of Quaker merchant Jonathan Dickinson.

Just when you thought we were done with Lincoln, it opened in the U.K. D.D. Guttenplan reviews the film for the Times Literary Supplement, and finds deep similarities between Spielberg and Kushner’s read on the man and that of Gore Vidal.

And finally, the Tweet of the Week, from our very own Ken Owen:


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