Vol. 15 No. 4 : Summer 2015



Welcome to the New Common-place

Our new design is a result of a year-long process of community outreach and research, design thinking, web development, and editorial decision making, and we hope you will be pleased with the results.

Roundtable: Nat Fuller's Feast

Editors’ Introduction

This roundtable is part of an ongoing series devoted to “First Person” experiences with early American culture.

Nat Fuller’s Feast

How does one create memory around an event that has long been lost to history?

Open Letter

An open letter from Chef Kevin Mitchell to Chef Nat Fuller.


David Shields reflects on the legacy of Nat Fuller in the wake of the attack on the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.


An invitation to Common-place readers to create their own events dedicated to reconciliation.


Michael Drexler and Ed White, The Traumatic Colonel: The Founding Fathers, Slavery, and the Phantasmatic Aaron Burr.  New York: New York University Press, 2014. 288 pp., $24.

Aaron Burr and the United States Racial Imagination

A review of Michael Drexler and Ed White’s recent collaboration, The Traumatic Colonel: The Founding Fathers, Slavery, and the Phantasmatic Aaron Burr


Pirates and Governors

Swashbucklers, rogues, and scoundrels—the legacy of early modern sea rovers in popular culture has made piracy basically synonymous with villainy. […]

At a time when rates of premarital sex were increasing and when print culture depicted the dangers of women’s erotic power, Ryan shows that government authorities particularly focused on containing the dangers of white women’s sexuality within lawful marriage.

Sex and Social Order in Massachusetts

Kelly A. Ryan’s work, Regulating Passion: Sexuality and Patriarchal Rule in Massachusetts, 1700-1830, explores the intersections of patriarchal power and […]

Katy Chiles, Transformable Race: Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. xi, 315 pp., £45.00.

When a Sunburn is Never Just a Sunburn

“Man,” wrote John Webb, a Boston-based minister, in a 1726 sermon, “conforms to the Tempers and Manners of the Company […]

Tales from the Vault

5. Wilmington Gazette, March 3, 1807. Courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Jefferson’s Mystery Woman Identified

When it came to women being federal employees, Jefferson could not see the light for the lighthouse.

Ask the Author

Catherine Cangary

On the Inland Seas: Detroit and the Atlantic World

The continental versus Atlantic debate is more about historiography than history.

Notes on the Text

6. Author’s hand holding the ribbon map, August 2009. Photo by the author.

One Mississippi: Coloney & Fairchild’s Ribbon Map of the Father of Waters (1866)

Two inches wide and eleven feet long, it mapped, among other things, a reunited nation.

Poetic Research

“Mark Twain,” mezzo-gravure by Mezzo-Gravure Co. after photograph by Pach Bros, (New York, c. 1900). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA.


Mark Twain’s Hank Morgan speaks in Lucy Biederman’s poetry.

Web Library


The New Web Library

As Common-place transitions to its new look on our new Website, the Web Library is adding a feature.

Object Lessons

1. Chinese artist, Portrait of George Washington, after a portrait by Gilbert Stuart, early nineteenth century (1800-1805). Reverse painting on glass, 32 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. with frame (82.5 x 64.8 cm). Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass., gift of Mr. Howell N. White, 1970E78992 © Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by the Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo.

Washington in China: A Media History of Reverse Painting on Glass

A meditation on early nineteenth-century Chinese portraits of George Washington.