Ballin’ Ben Franklin, Father Knickerbocker, and Lucky the Leprechaun: Representations of Early American History in NBA Team Logos

3588_philadelphia_76ers-secondary-2015Big news out of Philadelphia earlier this week, as the city’s NBA team, the 76ers, introduced an “updated brand identity.”[1] For now, the team has released the new logo set, though updated uniforms are also reportedly in the works. That new logo set  amounts mostly to slight revisions of existing logos, but also includes a secondary logo featuring a bespectacled Benjamin Franklin donning a blue jacket emblazoned with “76,” red culottes so as to expose knee high and team colored-striped socks, and blue sneakers. Suffice it to say that my excitement about my prospective move to Philadelphia this fall just increased ten-fold. Continue reading

Natural Histories

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See the world through Hannah Winthrop’s eyes. Your gaze dips down into the high-polished tea table and shears past John Singleton Copley’s brush, into summer 1773. Shown here serenely grasping a nectarine branch, Hannah likely knew that her world—what she called the “same little peaceful circle”—was spinning into a new revolution. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAH

Welcome to another The Week in Early American History! Take a break from the end-of-semester crunch to check out the unprecedented unification of the four surviving Magna Carta manuscripts or to a look at the tree root that ate Roger Williams. On to the links! Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThis has been a momentous week for early Americanists, with the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination to start the week and, especially for those of us in Massachusetts, the annual commemorations of Patriot’s Day this weekend. We have lots of great links for you below the fold!

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAHOn to the links! Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe past two weeks have been busy ones in Early American History! Continue reading

Decoding Diplomacy

JA Steady 2

John Adams, Codename: “Steady”

Ciphers, codes, and keys—plus reflections on how to encrypt sensitive developments in early American diplomacy—run through the papers of two generations in the Adams family’s saga of public service. So how did they use secrecy in statecraft? Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHConstitution Day Edition.

How did you celebrate Constitution Day on Wednesday? If you’re a politician on Capitol Hill, and didn’t answer either “by showing off my pocket-sized edition” or “standing near an oversized facsimile of my favorite amendment with text selectively crossed out to illustrate the imagined dangers posed by my political opponents,” then shame on you. Speaking of those pocket-sized editions, the Washington Post profiled Zeldon Nelson, the Idaho farmer and chief executive of the National Center for Constitutional Studies who sells them for just over a dollar a piece. Continue reading

How Do You Pronounce This Blog’s Name, Anyway?

OED JuntoBack in 2012, when the initial ideas for this blog were first being thrown around, I suggested the name The Junto. I did so, not least because working at the Franklin Papers tends to keep Franklin on the brain. But I also suggested the name because the blog seemed to me to be analogous to the original group in that it was started by a bunch of upstarts with the intent of creating intellectual discourse amongst a supportive and engaged community. And those were the two most important initial goals of the blog. At the time, I never anticipated that there would ever be any confusion as to how to pronounce the name. That may have been a good thing since I probably would not have suggested it otherwise (“pronouncability” being pretty important when it comes to naming things, apparently). So, you might ask: “What is the correct pronunciation?” Well, that’s the thing. There doesn’t seem to be one, at least not nowadays. So, in a hopeful effort to settle the question, I decided to try to find out how people in the eighteenth century pronounced “Junto.” Continue reading

Benjamin Franklin and “our Seamen who were Prisoners in England”

Papers of Benjamin Franklin, 31: 497.Earlier this week, I found myself sitting at my desk at the Franklin Papers faced with photostat copies of an “Alphabetical List of Escaped Prisoners” and a huge pile of promissory notes printed in triplicate by Franklin himself on the press he kept at his home in Passy, a suburb outside Paris. While I was going through them, I could not help but think back to the recent events surrounding the return of U.S. Army Sergeant, Bowe Bergdahl, the last remaining prisoner of the nation’s longest continuous period of war since the American Revolution. Politics aside, the Bergdahl affair speaks to the importance placed on coming to the aid of Americans detained in wartime. And what I had before me at my desk spoke to the same during the War for Independence. These men—largely privateersmen who had been captured on the high seas by the British and transported to English prisons—were among the very first Americans imprisoned on foreign soil during wartime and these documents reveal an often untold story about how the United States government and Benjamin Franklin dealt with this new problem.

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