Diego Rivera and Bertram D. Wolfe, “Portrait of America,” 1934
When John Adams looked back on the American Revolution (something he liked to do), he reflected that, “The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.” The colonists’ drive to independence marked a new era of American history, Adams thought, when “Thirteen Clocks were made to Strike together; a perfection of Mechanism which no Artist had ever before effected.” Scholars have struggled to frame the experience of the Revolution in picture and on the page. How can we use digital tools to curate collections of revolutionary culture and #vastearlyamerica for use in the classroom?
This weekend it wasn’t just the swiftly-approaching independence referendum causing excitement in Edinburgh—it was also the annual conference of the British Group of Early American Historians (BGEAH: that’s “beggar” to some, “big-ear” to others), which brought together early Americanists from Southampton to Dundee and all points in between, plus a few from the far side of the Atlantic. In the stately setting of Edinburgh University’s Old Medical School, the theme we were given was “Better Together? Union and Disunion in the Early Modern Atlantic.” I couldn’t possibly cover everything, but in this post I’ll share a few of my personal highlights. Continue reading →
Simon Newman is Sir Denis Brogan Professor of American History at the University of Glasgow. His most recent book, A New World of Labor: The Development of Plantation Slavery in the British Atlantic, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2013. In this guest post, Newman draws parallels between the American campaign for independence in the 1770s, and the current campaign for Scottish independence.
On September 18th millions of voters in Scotland will head to the polls to answer a simple question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” As an historian of the American Revolution living and working in Scotland I am struck by the parallels not just between the two movements for independence, but more significantly between the ways in which the British government in the eighteenth century and the UK government in the twenty-first century have challenged those who sought and seek independence. Continue reading →
We hope you will forgive the spottiness of TWEAH recently, but it is likely to be a regular occurrence during the summer months. Nevertheless, here are some links for you this Independence Day holiday weekend… Continue reading →
There is a breed of historians known, colloquially, as “cold water” historians for their drive to pour analytic “cold water” on the politically or historiographical fashionable arguments. Pauline Maier most certainly belongs to this historiographical polar bear club. As anyone who read her New York Times obituary (or any other, really) knows, Maier is famous for describing Thomas Jefferson as “overrated.” Her wonderful American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence brings the most powerful weapons of the skeptical historians— context and contingency—to bear on that central document of American political and national identity. Continue reading →