PublicationsOverview PublicationsOverview

Publications Overview

October 2010 – Abstract

The Merchant, the Map, and Empire:
Augustine Herrman’s Chesapeake and Interimperial Trade, 1644–73

By Christian J. Koot

New Netherland and Maryland mapmaker and merchant Augustine Herrman has been previously studied either for the map he produced—Virginia and Maryland As it is Planted and Inhabited (1673)—or for his experiences as a trader, examining these two intertwined aspects of Herrman’s life simultaneously reveals the colonial meanings of his map and the transimperial vision that produced it. Most scholarship on early modern cartography has focused on maps as objects of imperial control. But in the same manner that empire builders resorted to maps to understand the relationships between their colonies, visually analyzing Herrman’s map enables modern scholars to see that, even as empires divided the region, many colonists imagined the mid-seventeenth-century Atlantic as a unified whole. Inscribed in Virginia and Maryland As it is Planted and Inhabited was the colonial idea of a linked multinational world, a view that shaped not only the map but also the empire it represented.

The Patient’s Case:
Sentimental Empiricism and Knowledge in the Early American Republic

By Sarah Knott

Modes of natural knowledge-making are revealed in the patient’s case of the early Republic. From 1780 to 1813, leading American physician Benjamin Rush received dozens and dozens of letters from middling and elite men and women. This unusual and neglected archive shows how ordinary people drew on sentimental empiricism to understand their bodies and minds. Across the wide reaches of the early Republic, from Maine to South Carolina to the western frontier, Rush’s patients composed a case form of their own. That case form refined observation, reason, and sympathy into narrative and drew creatively on the heritages of law and epistolarity as well as medicine. Sentimental empiricism produced a near-equal footing between the patient and the physician and located a physician’s reputation in sociability as much as formal expertise. The history of the patient’s case suggests that new scholarship on “science,” which has so fruitfully focused on natural history, should consider taking medicine more thoroughly into account and engage with the history of society and politics, especially that of sensibility.

Religion, Politics, and Witchcraft in Bermuda, 1651–55

By Virginia Bernhard

A series of witchcraft trials in Bermuda from 1651 to 1655 was linked to transatlantic Puritanism and the political turbulence of civil war in England. After Charles I’s execution, Bermuda, which had been Puritan since its founding in 1612, was bitterly divided between Independents and moderate Presbyterians. Similar divisions in the Somers Islands Company, Bermuda’s governing body in England, further unsettled the colony. Courts met sporadically. Neighbors quarreled. Most churches had no clergy. Governors came and went. In May 1651, one year after a governor friendly to the Independents took office, the first execution for witchcraft in Bermuda’s history took place. Then, with drumbeat rapidity, eleven more people were accused of witchcraft, and four were hanged by a governor and council who controlled the machinery of the witchcraft trials and may have set it in motion. Religious polemics, political documents, and witchcraft lore as well as trial records, suggesting that Bermuda’s Independents, aware of recent witch trials in England, Scotland, and England’s North American colonies, may have used witch hunts as a means of mending a fragmented society while avenging themselves on their political enemies.

Anglo-Scottish Union and John Witherspoon’s American Revolution

By Gideon Mailer

John Witherspoon, president of the College of New Jersey, was a teacher of many statesmen and leaders of the founding generation and the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence. He has long been hailed as a primary conduit to America of what came to be called Scottish Common Sense philosophy. The sociability and sensibility of the Scottish Enlightenment’s common moral sense, it has been argued, undergirded patriot ideology. Witherspoon himself, it is said, turned away from the Calvinist rigors of Scottish evangelicalism to herald this enlightened sense of individual and social moral potential as he shifted his allegiance from Great Britain to America. But a closer look at his teaching and preaching shows that Witherspoon in America was no less a Calvinist than he had been in Scotland. And the key to this Presbyterian’s patriotism lies in tracing the links between the Scottish Solemn League and Covenant in 1643, Britain’s Act of Union in 1707, and the American Articles of Confederation in 1783. All were different forms of union that to Witherspoon were—or ought to be—grounded in and facilitating Scottish evangelicalism.

Sources and Interpretations

“A record in the hands of thousands”:
Power and Negotiation in the Orderly Books of the Continental Army

By John A. Ruddiman

General orders and orderly books from the Continental army are remarkably revealing sources that scholars have not yet analyzed as a genre. Orders in the American Revolution were a flexible body of texts that commanders carefully crafted to win cooperation and obedience from soldiers and to create a professional army. Rank-and-file soldiers and junior officers also used the genre, appropriating the texts of orders and the physical orderly books to protest authoritarian control and record their own understanding of service in the Continental army. Orders were a key medium for generals to convey military education, political indoctrination, and salutary interpretations of news. For subordinates, ignoring, altering, or destroying the text of orders provided a relatively safe moment of defiance. Soldiers could also use the genre of orders to communicate anonymously (and safely) with their officers. Whether in day-to-day life in the ranks, fear-inducing battles, the horror of Benedict Arnold’s treason, or the notorious Newburgh conspiracy, the genre of orders proved sufficiently flexible to become a site of negotiation over authority in a republican army.