The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIt’s been another marvelous week for early American history. First, we saw the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. As John Fea notes, the exact wording of the speech has been causing trouble; Barack Obama has been accused of refusing to read a crucial passage. The AP’s Allen G. Breed investigated the various drafts of the speech and, with help from Martin P. Johnson, discussed their significance to American journalism. On SNL, though, Mr. Jebediah Atkinson had harsh words to say about the address.

Speaking of texts and their circulation, Ryan Cordell talked to public radio’s On the Media about the Infectious Texts project, which is studying how stories “went viral” in antebellum America. In other news of ideas and their travel, Henry Wiencek interviewed James Vaughan about the international context of the American Revolution for the podcast Not Even Past. On another podcast, the BBC’s In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg interviewed three British historians about Pocahontas.

Speaking of travel, we checked out John Davies’ fascinating post on Vodou in early America and what it might show about Dominguan migration.

In news of genocidal rhetoric, cheerleaders at a high school in Alabama recently got into trouble for threatening a rival football team, the Indians, with “a Trail of Tears, Round 2.” The principal and superintendent have apologized.

In news of artifacts and heritage sites, we learned this week of the death of Jane Pratt Fitzpatrick, who saved and restored the Revolution-era Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In the Boston Globe, Elayne Clift reported on the opening of the African American Heritage Trail, which links eleven sites in Vermont. And a Washington Post photoessay by Katherine Frey documented the arrival of a segregated rail car and a guard tower from Angola Prison at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In news of academia, Jonathan Rees was still writing about the attempted “automation” of teaching through MOOCs, and Brooks Kohler  responded to an Economist article accusing MOOC-resistors of being Luddites.

Finally, as we all prepare for Thanksgivukkah, it’s worth pondering the history of eight iconic dishes associated with American Thanksgiving. Salut, y’all.


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