The British Rank the U.S. Presidents

The Institute for the Study of the Americas recently conducted a survey of U.S. presidents: Through the agency of its United States Presidency Centre [USPC], the Institute for the Study of the Americas (located in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study) has undertaken the first ever UK academic survey to rate US presidents. This polled the opinion …

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Commemorating Liberty and Slavery in Philadelphia

Yesterday, the New York Times ran reviewed the new exhibit, “The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation,” which opens today. The exhibit treats the Philadelphia house where George Washington and John Adams lived as presidents during the 1790s. (The U.S. had several capital cities in its early years before …

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Conspiracy Thinking in the Early Republic

Many of you know that I have an abiding interest in conspiracy theories. Not that I believe them, mind you, but I am fascinated with their prevalence in American and Western history. My own interest stems from my fundamentalist Baptist background. I grew up reading books and hearing stories that were permeated with conspiracy theories about the …

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First Photo of Humans?

The daguerreotype was the earliest form of photography. (Read some of the history here.) NPR recently posted daguerreotypes of Cincinnati from 1848 that show what may be the first candid photos of humans. Even more interesting, a blogger named Hokumburg responded to the story with what may the first photograph of humans, taken by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre himself in 1838. …

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Review of Lacy K. Ford, Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South

Lacy K. Ford's Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) is a magnificent survey of the Jacksonian South's struggle to reconcile itself with slavery. Actually, according to Ford, it was the Jacksonian Souths' (Upper and Lower) struggle to reconcile themselves to slavery, as circumstances in the Early …

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Annette Gordon-Reed and the Jefferson-Hemings Relationship

Early Republic historian Annette Gordon-Reed was recently named a MacArthur Fellow, which awards $500,000 over five years for the pursuit of creative endeavors, no strings attached. Gordon-Reed, of course, is familiar to Early Republic historians and the general public for her work on the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings relationship and the Hemings family, discussed in a Gilder …

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Review of Eric Foner, Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World

I just finished reading Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, a collection of essays on Abraham Lincoln edited by Eric Foner. I assigned this book to my Civil War students this fall. Since some of the essays deal with Lincoln in the Early Republic period, I'm offering my assessment of those chapters here, setting aside the other chapters that primarily focus on …

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The Hermitage’s Podcast Series: “Aaron and Andrew: A Southern Story of Treason”

The second installment of The Hermitage's podcast series focuses on the Burr conspiracy. In September 1806, Vice-President Aaron Burr visited Nashville, where a dinner was held in his honor. Just three months later, his life would turn completely around as he would be put on trial for treason. For a time, he had an unwitting …

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The Many Faces of Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz is an historian familiar to those who have studied Jacksonian politics. The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting piece on him this week. Even his harshest critics, however, pay their respects to Wilentz's academic career. His first book, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850 (Oxford University …

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