The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIn time for Memorial Day, we have several stories about time, memory, and narrative in general, as well as links to stories of early America.

First, two new book reviews: Mike Jay’s review of Suzanne Corkin’s Permanent Present Tense, on memory and personal identity, and James Gleick’s review of Lee Smolin’s Time Reborn, on the nature of time itself.

Then, has wider access to information done anything in recent years to restrain the “paranoid style in American politics”? Maggie Koerth-Baker says no.

With respect to fiction, Kameron Hurley reflects on her attempts as a fantasy writer to overcome received narratives about what women do in history, especially as fighters. Today, meanwhile, Jim Smith and Ray Zimmerman intend to begin recreating Civil War drummer Peter Guibert’s 1913 march from Pittsburgh to Gettysburg, commemorating the biggest of the white veterans’ reunions.

The Bostonian Society is displaying Britain’s original copy of the 1763 Treaty of Paris at the Old State House (PDF).

The Amistad is in port in Philadelphia through May 29.

A British-born resident of Amsterdam, Stephen Brumwell, has won this year’s George Washington Book Prize.

This summer, the Constitutional Sources Project will be playing out the Constitutional Convention according to Madison’s notes on Twitter. They are encouraging interested persons to register to play a specific delegate and help “Tweet the [Constitutional Convention] Debates.” To just follow along, follow @TweetTheDebates.

Was the Three-Fifths Clause an “anti-slavery measure”? According to Talking Points Memo, Virginia’s Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, E. W. Jackson, claimed so in 2011.

The contemporary photography of Robert Christian Malmberg uses the nineteenth century’s collodion process to produce striking, somewhat uncanny monochrome portraits of living people. (Contains some nudity.)

Rober Deaner offers his proposal for reforming the peer-review process for academic journals.

Finally, “how about a little XYZ Affair?” The Junto is pleased to note the existence of these (NSFMCEAS) Founding Father pinupsThe Junto is now going to go away and be busy decorating its locker until next week.

3 responses

  1. Thanks for mentioning Tweet the Debates! I hope you enjoy following along and you’re all welcome to get involved!

    One question I have that people here may know more about – As we’ll see at the Convention, “federal” is used to refer to the government they are replacing for a “national” one, which becomes a mixed federal/national government through compromise.

    Then, some of the biggest proponents for the national government publish the Federalist Papers, and the opponents of the new government become known as anti-federalists. This seems like it completely switched the meaning of the word around. The people who want to maintain the federal government are anti-federalists.

    In addition, William Pierce refers to Robert Yates as an “anti-federal” man in his character sketch of Yates.

    Is this just a reframing of a word for political advantage (which is pretty common today)? Or were there contemporaneous uses of the word that make this more understandable?

    • I, for one, am really looking forward to TTD. As for the labels, there was indeed a switch. The nationalists adopted the name for themselves, some historians have argued, as a way of softening the perceived radicality of their proposals.

      In her most recent book, Pauline Maier consciously avoided using the term “anti-federalist” because of its party connotation. She argues that the views of those who opposed the new Constitution were so disparate that often their disapproval was the only thing they had in common. That highlights one of the key reasons behind the nationalists’ victory, i.e., they, at least, had a plan. The very term “ANTI-federalist” is emblematic of the fact that their role in the debates and ratification process were primarily negative, i.e., they stood opposed but never offered a coherent alternative to either the AOC or the proposed Constitution, in large part because of the ideological disparities among them.


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