Tag Archives: Atlantic World

Exploring A Dutch Colony Under English Rule

Dr. David William Voorhees will give a presentation on how the Jacob Leisler Papers Project at New York University is transforming our understanding of the transition from Dutch New Netherland to English New York in the period from 1660 to 1700.

Jacob Leisler (1640-1691) was intimately bound to the economic, social, and political development of New Netherland and New York from his arrival in New Amsterdam in July 1660 in the employ of the Dutch West India Company until his beheading in New York City by the English governor in May 1691. Continue reading

American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World

On November 25, 1783, the last British troops pulled out of New York City, bringing the American Revolution to an end. Patriots celebrated their departure and the confirmation of U.S. independence. But for tens of thousands of American loyalists, the British evacuation spelled worry, not jubilation. What would happen to them in the new United States? Would they and their families be safe?

Facing grave doubts about their futures, some sixty thousand loyalists—one in forty members of the American population—decided to leave their homes and become refugees elsewhere in the British Empire. They sailed for Britain, for Canada, for Jamaica, and for the Bahamas- some ventured as far as Sierra Leone and India. Award-winning historian Maya Jasanoff’s new book Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf, 2011), chronicles their stories.

Jasanoff re-creates the journeys of ordinary individuals whose lives were overturned by extraordinary events. She tells of refugees like Elizabeth Johnston, a young mother from Georgia, who spent nearly thirty years as a migrant, searching for a home in Britain, Jamaica, and Canada. And of David George, a black preacher born into slavery, who found freedom and faith in the British Empire, and eventually led his followers to seek a new Jerusalem in Sierra Leone.

Mohawk leader Joseph Brant resettled his people under British protection in Ontario, while the adventurer William Augustus Bowles tried to shape a loyalist Creek state in Florida. For all these people and more, it was the British Empire—not the United States—that held the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet as they dispersed across the empire, the loyalists also carried things from their former homes, revealing an enduring American influence on the wider British world.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New Book: The Race to the New World

Doug Hunter’s just released The Race to the New World: Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and the Lost History of Discovery (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), offers a new angle to the ubiquitous story of Columbus’ voyage- how John Cabot became his true rival in this search for the West Indies.

The final decade of the fifteenth century the Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus sailed westward on the Atlantic Ocean, famously determined to discover for Spain a shorter and more direct route to the riches of the Indies. Meanwhile, a fellow Italian explorer for hire, John Cabot, set off on his own journey, under England’s flag.

In Race to the New World Hunter tells the fascinating tale of how, during his expedition, Columbus gained a rival. In the space of a few critical years, these two men engaged in a high-stakes race that threatened the precarious diplomatic balance of Europe-to exploit what they believed was a shortcut to staggering wealth. Instead, they found a New World that neither was looking for.

Hunter provides a revealing look at how the lives of Columbus and Cabot were interconnected, and how neither explorer should be understood without understanding both. Together, Cabot and Columbus provide a novel and important perspective on the first years of European experience of the New World.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New Book on Convicts in Colonial America

Independent scholar Anthony Vaver’s blog Early American Crime has staked-out some substantial ground with what he calls “an exploration of the social and cultural history of crime and punishment in colonial America and the early United States.” Now Vaver has an outstanding volume to accompany his work on the web, Bound with an Iron Chain: The Untold Story of How the British Transported 50,000 Convicts to Colonial America (Pickpocket Publishing, 2011).

Most people know that England shipped thousands of convicts to Australia, but few are aware that colonial America was the original destination for Britain’s unwanted criminals. In the 18th century, thousands of British convicts were separated from their families, chained together in the hold of a ship, and carried off to America, sometimes for the theft of a mere handkerchief.

What happened to these convicts once they arrived in America? Did they prosper in an environment of unlimited opportunity, or were they ostracized by the other colonists? Anthony Vaver, who has a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, tells the stories of the petty thieves and professional criminals who were punished by being sent across the ocean to work on plantations. In bringing to life this forgotten chapter in American history, he challenges the way we think about immigration to early America.

The book also includes an index and an appendix with helpful tips for researching individual convicts who were transported to America.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Books: Selected Rensselaerwijck Papers

Papers from the New Netherland Institute’s annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar has long served as a platform for local historians to present their latest research on the only successful patroonship in New Netherland.

A Beautiful and Fruitful Place: Selected Rensselaerswijck Papers, vol. 2 (SUNY Press, 2011) includes papers delivered at the seminar from 1988 to 1997 and features New Netherland’s distinctive regional history as well as the colony’s many relationships with Europe, the seventeenth-century Atlantic world, and New England, these cogent and informative papers are an indispensable source toward a better understanding of New Netherland life and legacy.

Leading scholars from both sides of the Atlantic critique and offer research on a dynamic range of topics: the age of exploration, domestic life in New Netherland, the history and significance of the West India Company, the complex era of Jacob Leisler, the southern frontier lands of the colony, relations with New England, Hudson Valley foodways and Dutch beer production, the endurance of the Dutch legacy into nineteenth-century New York, and contemporary genealogical research on colonial Dutch ancestors.

Edited by Elisabeth Paling Funk and Martha Dickinson Shattuck, the newest volume of papers includes chapters from Rensselaerswijck Seminars on domestic life in New Netherland, the Age of Leisler, New Netherland and the Frontier, The Persistence of the Dutch after 1664, The Dutch in the Age of Exploration, Manor Life and Culture in the Hudson Valley, Family History, Relations between New Netherland and New England, The West India Company and the Atlantic World, and more.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Why 17th Century New Amsterdam Matters Today

Dennis J. Maika will present a talk entitled “New York Was Always a Global City: Why Seventeenth-Century New Amsterdam Matters Today” at 1:30 p.m. on November 19, 2011 (Saturday) at 3 West 29th Street, NYC (at Marble Church). The talk will be followed by a preview of the Center’s new website.

The driving force behind America’s founding was the expansion of trade and commerce. In those formative years of the 17th century Atlantic World, New Amsterdam was at the center of that trade. Dr. Maika will identify key elements that made early New Amsterdam (New York) a global city and offer observations about its economy, government and society that made New York City’s early history especially relevant today.

Dennis J. Maika is the 2102 Senior Scholar in Residence at the New Netherland Research Center in Albany. He received his Ph.D. in History from New York University- his dissertation was awarded the Hendricks Manuscript Prize. He is a Fellow of the Holland Society of New York, the New Netherland Institute, and the New York Academy of History. Dr. Maika participated in the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World at Harvard University. As a historian of colonial New York, he has served as a consultant for local history and education projects and has written numerous articles and papers. Dr. Maika is currently working on a book about Dutch and English merchants in seventeenth-century Manhattan.

The event is free, but reservations are required. For reservations, please email kchase@westendchurch.org or call (212) 799-4203. Leave your name, phone number or email and the number of reservations you require.

Revolution Exhibit Funded For Travel

The New-York Historical Society has announced that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded it a grant of $400,000 to support a traveling program and educational initiatives surrounding its new exhibition Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn.

Revolution! is the first museum exhibition to explore the revolutions in America, France and Haiti as a single grand narrative from 1763 to 1815, tracing their cumulative transformation of politics, society and culture across the Atlantic world. It will also be the first major history exhibition to be presented by the New-York Historical Society when it fully re-opens its galleries on November 11, 2011, after a three-year, $65 million renovation.

“The New-York Historical Society is deeply grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for this very generous endorsement of our mission, which is to engage the broadest possible public in the enjoyment of learning about history,” said Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Through this grant, we will be able to extend the reach of Revolution! and make it accessible to a much wider audience.”

The NEH has awarded the grant through its “America’s Historical & Cultural Organizations Implementation Grant” program, which supports museum exhibitions, library-based projects, interpretation of historic places or areas, websites and other project formats that excite and inform thoughtful reflection upon culture, identity and history.

Revolution! traces how an ideal of popular sovereignty, introduced through the American fight for independence, soon sparked more radical calls for a recognition of universal human rights and set off attacks on both sides of the Atlantic against hereditary privilege and slavery. Among the astonishing, unforeseen outcomes was an insurrection on the French possession of Saint-Domingue, leading to the world’s only successful slave revolt and the establishment in 1804 of the first nation founded on the principles of full freedom and equality for all, regardless of color.

NY Historical to Reopen with Revolution! Exhibit

After three years of construction New York’s first museum, the New-York Historical Society, will re-open fully on November 11, 2011 with the exhibition Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn, the first exhibition to relate the American, French and Haitian struggles as a single global narrative.

Spanning decades of enormous political and cultural changes, from the triumph of British imperial power in 1763 to the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, Revolution! traces how an ideal of popular sovereignty, introduced through the American fight for independence, soon sparked more radical calls for a recognition of universal human rights, and set off attacks on both sides of the Atlantic against hereditary privilege and slavery. Among the unforeseen outcomes was an insurrection on the French possession of Saint-Domingue, leading to the world’s only successful slave revolt and the establishment in 1804 of the first nation founded on the principles of full freedom and equality for all, regardless of color.

“Just as the New-York Historical Society set new standards for American culture when it opened in 1804, Revolution! will break new ground for American history in 2011,” Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the Historical Society, said in a press statement announcing the new exhibit. “This trailblazing exhibition underscores how much our nation has always been an integral part of a much broader world, and how our city’s great cultural pantheon took shape against the backdrop of a sweeping play of historical forces on an international stage. As we established in our widely acclaimed exhibition on Nueva York, the history of our city has always implicated the history of the world.”

Richard Rabinowitz, founder and president of American History Workshop, serves as chief exhibition curator. Thomas Bender of New York University and Laurent Dubois of Duke University have served as the co-chief historians for Revolution!, drawing on the scholarship of an advisory committee of historians and specialists.

Following its presentation at the New-York Historical Society (November 11, 2011 – April 15, 2012), Revolution! will travel to venues in the U.K., France, and elsewhere in the United States. Educational materials and programs will be distributed internationally, including in Haiti.

The exhibition is made possible with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural (URR) program and The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

On view in Revolution!

With texts and audio guides in English, French and Haitian Kreyol, the exhibition unfolds in galleries designed to evoke varied gathering places, such as a baroque palace, a portside tavern and a rural Haitian lakou: sites where people of the era felt and shared the “common wind” of political information and opinion. Within these galleries, visitors will encounter paintings, drawings and prints from collections in a dozen countries- historical documents, maps and manuscripts from the hands of participants in these revolutions- audiovisual presentations and interactive learning stations- and curriculum materials for students from kindergarten through graduate school.

Highlights among the three hundred objects in Revolution! include:
· the original Stamp Act, as it was passed by Parliament in 1765 setting off the riots that led to the American Revolution, on loan from the Parliamentary Archives, London, displayed for the first time outside the U.K.

· Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam (oil on canvas, 1752-58, by John Greenwood), the first genre painting in American art history, on loan from the Saint Louis Art Museum, illustrating the sort of tavern where discontent brewed in the Atlantic world, in an 18th-century version of “social networking”

· a first edition of Thomas Paine’s epoch-making pamphlet Common Sense (1776), from the collection of the New-York Historical Society

· an elegant mahogany desk from the first capitol of the United States, Federal Hall in lower Manhattan (c. 1788, New-York Historical Society): the first example of a legislator’s desk in Anglo-American history

· the “Africa Box” filled with craftworks and agricultural products from Africa (ca. 1785, on loan from the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, U.K.), used by Abolitionist Thomas Clarkson in his lectures against slavery, and never before exhibited outside the U.K.

· Vue de l’incendie de la ville du Cap Francais (1795, by J.B. Chapuy, Archives departementales de la Martinique), an example of the sort of engraving that brought impressions of the Haiti uprising to an international public

· Napoleon’s authorization to French negotiators to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States (1803, New-York Historical Society), as a direct consequence of the Haitian rebellion

· the only known surviving copy of the first printing of the Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804, National Archives, London), recently discovered and exhibited here to the public for the first time

· a wooden model of the slave ship Brookes, produced for the French revolutionary leader Mirabeau, intended to be used as a prop in the National Assembly’s debate on ending slavery in France (1789, Bibliotheque nationale de France)

· Thomas Jefferson’s copy of Notes on the State of Virginia, his only book, inscribed to the Abbe Morellet, and used by the latter to make the first French translation (1785, New York Public Library)

· a 2nd-century C.E. Roman marble bust of a young man wearing a Phrygian (or “liberty”) cap, which became an inspiration for one of the great symbols of the revolutionary era (Bibliotheque nationale de France)

· three superb vodou sculptures, produced by secret societies in Haiti that were established during the Haitian Revolution (early 20th century, La Fondation pour la Preservation, la Valorisation et la Production d’Oeuvres Culturelles Haitiennes)

· Anne-Louis Girodet’s magnificent portrait of the great Saint-Domingue military and political leader Jean-Baptiste Belley, the “most important image of a black revolutionary” (1797, Musee National du Chateau de Versailles)

· a seven-foot-long “carcan” or leg-yoke, used to shackle five captives together, taken from a French slave ship (ca. 1800, Bibliotheque nationale de France)

· and many examples of the broadsides, pamphlets, and political and satirical cartoons that spread, and reflected, revolutionary fervor throughout the period

Plan of the Exhibition

Revolution! tells its story through the following main sections:

The Palace: Imperial Ambitions, Political Realities provides an overview of the Atlantic imperial world in 1763 at the moment when the British defeated French and Spanish forces in the first truly global conflict, the Seven Years War. This triumph came at a price, as the gallery illustrates with evidence of the material riches of the colonial possessions, and the high-level debates within the capital about the costs of exploiting them. Warfare and colonial government were expensive- yet greater taxation within the imperial homeland carried political risks. The leaders of Britain (like their imperial counterparts in Spain and Portugal) chose instead to impose new taxes and regulations on their colonies.

The Tavern: A World of Conspiracy and Connivance brings visitors into contact with the new public sphere of political argument that emerged in the world of the Atlantic’s maritime commerce, as broadsides, pamphlets and dockside murmurings circulated among a growing population of “masterless” people: men and women uprooted from their ancest
ral homes in Africa, Europe and the Americas. A seaport tavern in the Caribbean is the exhibition’s setting for the exchange of arguments, rumors, information and grievances that took place among colonial planters, royal officials, free people of color, fugitives, sailors, dockworkers and demimondaines. Their public chatter became an increasingly loud, dissonant and often corrosive counterpoint to the official pronouncements of palaces, ministries, cathedrals and courtrooms.

The Uncharted Upheaval in British North America traces the unforeseeable course of American rebellion from the protests against the Stamp Act to the aftermath of the War of Independence, showing these events less as a chronology of conflicts than as a set of “inventions.” Having begun by arguing for their traditional English rights within the empire, the colonists went on to construct universalist arguments for independence and a government based on popular sovereignty. Materials in the gallery illustrate the increasing political and cultural alienation of the colonists- the evolution of their colonial assemblies into wartime “committees of safety”- the formation of a military alliance with England’s imperial rival, France- and the postwar invention of self-government under the Articles of Confederation and then the Constitution.
The British Campaign for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade explores how the impact of the successful American rebellion—combined with the resistance of the enslaved aboard ships and within American plantations—set off a powerful impulse for reform in Great Britain, as the greatest slave-trading power on earth began the march toward emancipation. Materials in the gallery show how the anti-slavery forces used lectures, community meetings, marches, rallies, petitions to Parliament, the publication of propaganda images and personal testimonies—techniques of political mobilization that are now standard in the democratic world—to advance their cause. By 1807, the British had abolished the slave trade and assumed the role of maritime policemen in the Atlantic, aiming to cripple the human trafficking of Britain’s imperial rivals. This was the second great achievement of the revolutionary era.

Free and Equal: French and African Ideals Liberate the World’s Richest Colony takes the story of revolution to Paris—where the American example, and the cost to the royal treasury of assisting the Americans, contributed to the monarchy’s downfall—and to France’s own prize colony, Saint-Domingue, the western third of the island of Hispaniola. In the wake of 1789, the rich sugar planters of Saint-Domingue struck out for autonomy from France. Meanwhile, their mixed-race offspring, the often prosperous free people of color, responded to the new egalitarian ideals by calling for racial equality within economic classes- and the colony’s poor whites, hating both groups, agitated for the overthrow of all hierarchies. None of these forces wanted the abolition of slavery- but after more than two years of universal conflict, the ninety percent of Saint-Domingue that was African and enslaved rebelled, in summer 1791. At the heart of this chapter is Toussaint Louverture, the military genius, economic czar and law-giver of the rebellion. Its legacy included the total abolition of slavery by the Convention in 1794—the third great achievement of this revolutionary era—but also the ongoing resistance in Saint-Domingue, as ex-slaves chafed at Louverture’s orders for them to remain at their places of work.

The Second Haitian Revolution takes the story into the foothills and mountains of the island, where the formerly enslaved population stole away from the plantations and began creating a distinctive national identity. They melded the enormous diversity of their native African backgrounds into a single culture, through the development of a new form of spirituality (vodoun), a new national language (Kreyol) and a new form of household space and organization (the lakou).

The Triumph of Haitian Independence concludes this part of Revolution! with the story of Napoleon’s 1802 invasion of Saint-Domingue (with the goal of reinstituting slavery, threatening to kill off the existing adult African population and importing an entire new workforce from Africa) and the subsequent resistance. Although successful at first, the French army fell victim to yellow fever, the maroon insurgency in the mountains and their own government’s ineptitude. At the beginning of 1804, having driven the French out of Saint-Domingue, the victorious General Dessalines declared the independence of the second republic established in the Americas, the newly named nation of Haiti, concluding the first (and only) successful slave revolt in history and establishing the first nation to guarantee unconditional equality and emancipation in its constitution. This was the fourth great achievement of this era of revolution.
Legacies, the 19th century shows how the immediate consequences of this first Age of Revolution fell short of the dreams and sacrifices of the revolutionaries. The new Haitian state was quarantined by the imperial powers, with France extending recognition only after Haiti agreed to indemnify whites for the loss of their land and slaves—leaving the nation crippled by debt, and chronically unable to construct a workable political system. The British went on to abolish slavery in their West Indian possessions in the 1830s—but only after compensating slaveholders, and providing them with a new supply of indentured workers from Asia. As for the U.S., it ceased to be a fount of revolutionary activity after its purchase of the Louisiana Territory—a direct consequence of the Haitian revolution—turning inward to a project of continental expansion. (The question of extending slavery into western territories, ironically, would break apart the Union.) Despite these reversals, however, the events of 1776-1804 had implanted an ineradicable aspiration for democratic rights in the Atlantic world and beyond.

Legacies for our time carries the story of Revolution! into the 20th century, when the attainment of universal human rights came to be a global ideal, if certainly not an achieved reality. Dozens of colonial nations declared their independence from European powers, often in language adopted from Jefferson and Lafayette. Slavery, though persisting outside the law, became illegal everywhere. And in 1948, the United Nations brought forth the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which codified a new norm in human affairs: the fundamental entitlement of every person to a life of dignity, liberty and equality. This is the ultimate legacy of the half-century we call the Age of Revolution.

Exhibition Catalog

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color, illustrated catalogue edited by Thomas Bender, Laurent Dubois, and Richard Rabinowitz. The volume will feature ten essays by leading scholars: Thomas Bender- Laurent Dubois and Julius S. Scott (University of Michigan)- Richard Rabinowitz- T. H. Breen (Northwestern University)- Cathy Matson (University of Delaware)- David Brion Davis (Yale University) and Peter P. Hinks- Robin Blackburn (New School University)- Jeremy D. Popkin (University of Kentucky)- Vincent Brown (Duke University)- Rebecca J. Scott (University of Michigan) and Jean M. Hebrard (University of Michigan)- and Jean Casimir (Universite d’Etat, Haiti).

Education: School Programs

Curriculum materials for grades K through graduate school will include teacher lesson plans and student materials such as maps, copies of primary resources, life stories of exhibition protagonists and timelines. As with all major exhibitions, Museum educators from the Historical Society will conduct teacher training and onsite tours for school groups throughout the run of the exhibition. Teacher materials will also be accessible for download from the Revolution! website at no charge.

Public Programs

A series of evening programs at the Histo
rical Society will feature some of the nation’s top historians, journalists and authors. These programs will be digitally recorded and posted as podcasts on various sites. In addition, the Historical Society will offer educational and community outreach programs for the Haitian-American community in New York and other venue cities, including visual and performing arts, oral history and citizenship education.

A joint scholarly conference with the John Carter Brown Library (Providence, RI) in March 2012 will convene post-secondary audiences and scholars of the subject.

Illustration: Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam (oil on canvas, 1752-58, by John Greenwood).

New Netherland Research Residencies

The Quinn Library Research Residency consists of specialized research in Dutch-related documents and printed materials at the New York State Library. Researchers interested in the history of New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World are also encouraged to apply for the special Cunningham Grant of $2,500.

The Quinn Archives Research Residency consists of up to one year in Albany, working in the rich collections of the New Netherland Institute and the New York State Archives.

Researchers interested in the history of New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World are also encouraged to apply for the research residency, which carries a stipend of $2,500.

The Quinn Library Research Residency Award application must be postmarked by January 28,2011 and is due January 29,2011. The Archives Research Residency Award application is due January 15,2011. Each award is for $2,500 and the successful candidate has a year from the time the awards are announced to complete his/her research.

A panel of scholars and library staff will review proposals. The panel’s decisions will be announced by April 14, 2011.

More information and the application link can be found at http://www.nnp.org/nni/Research%20&%20Education/quinn.html

If you’d like to discuss the suitability of your research topic for one of these awards, contact cgehring@mail.nysed.gov or jvenema@mail.nysed.gov or mdshattuck@gmail.com

CFP: Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World

The Call for Proposals submission deadline has been extended to July 31, 2010 for Abolishing Slavery in the Atlantic World: The ‘-Underground Railroad’ in the Americas, Africa, and Europe, The Tenth Anniversary Underground Railroad Public History Conference to be held April 8 – 10, 2011. The event is being organized by Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, and hosted by Russell Sage College, in Troy, New York.

Where there was slavery, there was resistance, escape, and rebellion. The Transatlantic Slave Trade (1400s to 1800s) was a global enterprise that transformed the four continents bordering the Atlantic, and that engendered the formation of a multifaceted and international Underground Railroad resistance movement. The broad geographic nature of this freedom struggle is the theme of the 2011 UGR Public History Conference. The organizers invite proposals that address capture, enslavement, and resistance within and across borders in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, historically and contemporarily, as well as proposals that address the preservation of the voices of the past and their relationship with us today.

Proposals should be submitted by July 30, 2010 Via postal mail to URHPCR, PO Box 10851, Albany NY 12201 or via email to urhpcr2011@gmail.com For more information, visit www.ugrworkshop.com or call 518-432-4432