Vol. 16 No. 4.5 :


Theresa Strouth Gaul, ed., Cherokee Sister: The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown 1818-1823. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014. 312 pp., $40.

Catharine Brown, Cherokee Evangelist

When editorial work is done well, it prods you toward a new way of thinking about a text or set of texts without closing down other interpretive possibilities.

David Shields, Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. 416 pp., $30.

Recovering Rice

David Shields’s book about Southern foodways contains the seeds of many future conversations.

Michael C. Cohen, The Social Lives of Poems in Nineteenth-Century America Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 296 pp., $55.

Usable Poetry

Cohen looks at how readers forged social connections through poems—by reading them aloud, recopying them, buying and selling them.

Vol. 16 No. 4 :


Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams did not see eye to eye on the Harrisburg Convention of 1827.  “Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States,” hand-colored lithograph by Nathaniel Currier (New York, 1841). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. “John Quincy Adams, 6th president of the United States,” lithograph by Nathaniel Currier (New York, 1841). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

“The Almighty Dollar”: 2016 and the Long History of Lobbying

2016 will mark not just the election of the forty-fifth president of the United States, but also the 200th anniversary of the creation of the first ever lobbying agency in the national capital, an agency that was founded by a Delaware factory manager named Isaac Briggs.

3. “The Looking Glass for 1787: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand,” etching of the adoption of the Constitution (1787). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts.

Slavery, Sectionalism, and the Constitution of 1787

The Constitution’s compromises added an element of complexity to the Constitution that defies any effort to reduce it to Twitter-sized proslavery or antislavery soundbites that implicate or exonerate the founders.

“Mrs. Woodhull Asserting Her Right to Vote,” from a sketch by H. Balling. Harper’s Weekly (New York, 25 November, 1871). Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. 
While Woodhull is denied a ballot an African American, an Irishman, and a German—identified stereotypically—vote, as well as a miscellany of other men.

Suffrage and Citizenship

U.S. citizenship and suffrage have not always been two sides of the American coin. . . . the voters who elected presidents from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln included many thousands who were not United States citizens.


Donald Ratcliffe. The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824’s Five-Horse Race. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015. 368 pp., $34.95.

A Not-So-Corrupt Bargain

As I read this book in the midst of yet another presidential election cycle, it was nearly impossible not to find strong parallels between these figures and our own presidential candidates.

Padraig Riley, Slavery and the Democratic Conscience: Political Life in Jeffersonian America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015. 328 pp., $45.

Beyond Thomas Jefferson and Slavery

In taking seriously northern Republicans’ egalitarian ideals and the world-historical significance they attributed to the Union, Riley offers an important corrective to scholarship that exaggerates the political influence of racism.

Sarah Vowell, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States. New York: Riverhead Books, 2015. 288 pp., $27.95.

In Lafayette’s Footsteps

Vowell has a sharp eye for paradox, contradiction, coincidence, and most especially for hypocrisy. She delights in poking her finger into the eye of American complacency.

Mary Sarah Bilder, Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2015. 384 pp., $35.

James Madison: Constitutional Convention Spin Doctor?

So mutilated did his Notes become, concludes Bilder, that even Madison himself eventually realized that he had lost forever the original convention proceedings of 1787.

Tales from the Vault

1. Previous attributions identified John Woodside (1781-1852), a prominent sign painter in Philadelphia, as a possible maker of the view. “Old Court House,” catalog number INDE14350. Courtesy of Independence National Historical Park.

“A Natural Representation of Market-Street, in Philadelphia”: An Attribution, a Story, and Some Thoughts on Future Study

James Kidder’s Market Street painting offers rich fodder for a meditation on the complex histories of private profit and public good in the cultural realm.

The Common School


“Slaveholders and their Northern Abettors”: Frederick Douglass’s Long Constitutional Journey

Ultimately, my students and I had to consider how to make sense of the Douglass of the 1840s, who viewed the Constitution as a “covenant with death,” and the Douglass of the 1850s, who adhered to an antislavery reading of the Constitution.

Web Library

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Graduate Training Where Digital Scholarship and Early American Studies Meet

Insights by four early-career scholars who work at the intersection of early American studies and the digital humanities.

Ask the Author

credit: Victor G Jeffreys II

Hamilton, Burr, Livingston, Clinton, Van Buren: Building Banks, Canals, and a Political System in New York State

Common-place talks with Brian Murphy about the business and politics of early New York State,

Object Lessons

Rose Campbell-Gerke, Ballot Box, American, active c. 1935, c. 1939, watercolor and graphite on paperboard, Index of American Design

The Glass Ballot Box and Political Transparency

In an election year where claims to transparency seem deeply opaque, Foutch recalls the moment when the way to save democracy was clear as glass.