Stephen Cushman on one of the quieter anniversaries of the Civil War

Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War, by Stephen CushmanOver at our Civil War blog, Stephen Cushman, author of Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War highlights a Civil War anniversary likely to be overlooked in this year’s sesquicentennial observances. He writes:

It is one thing to skim, in a few distracted seconds, an online chronology of the war and think, for example, That’s right, spring and summer 1864, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, the Crater, check, check, check, check, check. It is another to observe, in any way one chooses to observe it, the anniversary of Cold Harbor on June 3, and then to discover that June 8 was the 150th anniversary of the nomination of Lincoln, at the convention of the National Union Party in Baltimore, for a second term as president. Merely to list the two events one after the other in a bare-bones chronology is to risk missing altogether what a long, overshadowed, dispiriting interval the five days between the two events must have been—for the eventual nominee, for the delegates who nominated him, for the people they represented. Yet this silent, fretful interval remains invisible amidst a procession of bigger anniversaries that sail past like parade floats.

Overshadowed, dispiriting, fretful intervals have their anniversaries, too, but they rarely get much attention, even though they took up most of the 1500 days of the war for one side or the other. For one thing, such intervals do not offer us the stuff of spectacular reenactments. How do we stage public reenactments of the epidemic tightness in the chest or roiling in the stomach, the insomnia or melancholy or panic experienced by millions after First Manassas–Bull Run or the fall of Vicksburg? For another, anxious, doubtful intervals rarely come neatly packaged in single moments or artifacts we can point to and date and commemorate on their anniversaries. But there is at least one, and its memorable form came from Lincoln’s pen.

So far in the sesquicentennial we have observed anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg address, and early in March 2015 we will be observing the anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. But it is quite likely that Saturday, August 23, 2014, will come and go for most of us without our pausing to think about two sentences written by Lincoln 150 years earlier, on a busy Tuesday on which he also thanked the 147th Ohio Regiment for its services, recognized a new consul of Peru at San Francisco, and signed the order for the sale of valuable land in “the late Winnebago Indian Reservation, in Minnesota.” Lincoln’s two sentences, memorized and recited by very few, go this way: “This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards.”

Read Cushman’s full post, “The 150th Anniversary of Probable Failure,” at


Chantal Norrgard: The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission: Tribal Sovereignty in Action

Seasons of Change: Labor, Treaty Rights, and Ojibwe Nationhood, by Chantal NorrgardWe welcome a guest post today from Chantal Norrgard, author of Seasons of Change: Labor, Treaty Rights, and Ojibwe Nationhood. From the 1870s to the 1930s, the Lake Superior Ojibwes of Minnesota and Wisconsin faced dramatic economic, political, and social changes. Examining a period that began with the tribe’s removal to reservations and closed with the Indian New Deal, Norrgard explores the critical link between Ojibwes’ efforts to maintain their tribal sovereignty and their labor traditions and practices. Norrgard shows how the tribe strategically used treaty rights claims over time to uphold its right to work and to maintain the rhythm and texture of traditional Ojibwe life.

In the following post, Norrgard explains what tribal sovereignty means and one way that the Ojibwe exercise it.


Sovereignty is a contested term in Native American and Indigenous Studies, but as political scientist David Wilkins has asserted, tribal sovereignty is not the same as Western concepts of sovereignty. It exists as a “spiritual, moral, and cultural force” that propels a tribal community towards political economic and cultural integrity and “mature relationships” with itself, with other groups, and with the environment. The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) exemplifies this definition and shows how tribal sovereignty applies to the complex process of decolonization among Lake Superior Ojibwe.

GLIFWC was born out of Ojibwe struggles to exercise their treaty rights in the 1980s. In 1837 and 1842 treaties, Ojibwe Bands in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan collectively reserved the hunting, fishing, and gathering rights in territory they ceded to the United States. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Ojibwe people struggled to exercise these rights in the face of federal Indian policy restricting their mobility and livelihoods. State conservation laws targeted Indians and arrested them for exercising the rights reserved in treaties to hunt, fish, and gather.

This changed in 1983, when the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit affirmed that Ojibwes in Wisconsin had the right to hunt, fish, and gather off-reservation in what is known as the Voigt Decision. Following the Decision, tribes and the state hashed out the nature and scope of these rights in a series of tense litigation that lasted until 1991.

In order to counter state regulation of treaty rights, Ojibwe leaders from communities around Lake Superior sought to create a governing body that would enable them to reaffirm their treaty rights and to co-manage natural resources and  communicate with nontribal governments. In 1984, 11 tribal governments of Ojibwe Bands from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan met and asserted that they had the authority to organize themselves. They decided that they would use their tribal sovereignty to create a self-regulatory, inter-tribal agency: GLIFWC.

GLIFWC has been instrumental in uniting Ojibwe communities in the midst of their continual struggles to exercise treaty rights. In 1990, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe filed suit against the State of Minnesota because it refused to recognize the Voigt Decision. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Not only did GLIFWC play an active role in supporting the litigation, but it also brought together Ojibwe people to address one of the darkest events in their history on which the case hinged. Continue reading ‘Chantal Norrgard: The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission: Tribal Sovereignty in Action’ »

Excerpt: Common Threads, by Sally Dwyer-McNulty

Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American CatholicismA well-illustrated cultural history of the apparel worn by American Catholics, Sally Dwyer-McNulty’s Common Threads: A Cultural History of Clothing in American Catholicism reveals the transnational origins and homegrown significance of clothing in developing identity, unity, and a sense of respectability for a major religious group that had long struggled for its footing in a Protestant-dominated society often openly hostile to Catholics. Focusing on those who wore the most visually distinct clothes—priests, women religious, and schoolchildren—Dwyer-McNulty tracks and analyzes changes in Catholic clothing all the way through the twentieth century and into the present, which finds the new Pope Francis choosing to wear plain black shoes rather than ornate red ones.

In the following excerpt (pp. 60-63), Dwyer-McNulty reveals how nuns’ attire in the nineteenth century could lead to ill health and harassment. Adaptation of attire became a necessity for the well being of women religious.


Adaptation and Anti-Catholicism

Similar to early-nineteenth-century Catholic priests, sisters believed that a certain amount of adaptation was necessary if they were to successfully settle in the new United States. The hierarchy concurred. Bishop Rese of Detroit wrote to Rome in 1835, “Every religious order in America must unite the active life to the contemplative; otherwise the Americans would reject them, and we do not have means to support them in any other way.”[1] Without a tradition of Catholicism, monasteries, or nuns bringing dowries, the United States presented nuns and sisters with a unique set of challenges. The sisters would have to devise reliable methods of sustaining themselves. Begging was a temporary solution, but sisters found teaching and hospital work monetarily more reliable.

Other bishops agreed with Rese, arguing that flexibility was the key to the sisters’ survival. Bishop Rosati believed that the austerity that some orders observed, for instance, was not conducive to life in America. In the case of the Sisters of Loretto, their founder, Belgian priest Father Nerinckx, established severe rules that did not account for frontier conditions. Referring to the Sisters of Loretto in an 1823 letter to Bishop Dubourg, Bishop Rosati of St. Louis commented, “They go barefooted, have no other dresses but what they make themselves, of dyed linen in Summer and of wool in Winter, and they sleep upon a straw tick, spread on the bare floor. Their fare is no more delicate: no coffee, tea, or sugar. It is true pleasure to witness their fervor, which equals that of the strictest communities of Europe in the palmist days of their first establishment.”[2] While Rosati praised the band of hard-working Sisters of Loretto, other clerics became concerned, concluding that such extreme deprivation and arduous labor endangered the sisters’ lives. Eleven Lorettines perished during the first seven years of a mission in Bethania, North Carolina, due to the austerity and exposure.[3] Bishop Benedict Flaget of Louisville, Kentucky, lamented that “going barefoot, and sleeping with their clothes on and then praying in oratories open to the wind . . . made the sisters prone to contract tuberculosis.” Flaget wrote to Bishop Rosati, “In the space of eleven years we have lost twenty-four religious, and not one of them had yet reached the age of thirty years. Besides, of the eighty religious of the same family, that we have in Kentucky, there are at present thirty-eight who have bad health and who are perhaps not yet four years in vows. I learned that in your convent you have five or six whose health is almost ruined. All these deaths and other illnesses so multiplied, do not prove . . . that the rules are too austere?”[4] Flaget, with Rome’s endorsement, saw to it that the rule of the Sisters of Loretto changed. Thereafter the rule required behaviors less destructive to the sisters’ health.[5]
Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Common Threads, by Sally Dwyer-McNulty’ »

  1. [1] Robert Trisco, The Holy See and the Nascent Church in the Middle Western States (Rome: Gregorian University, 1962), 308, quoted in Ewen, Role of the Nun, 135.
  2. [2] Maes, Life of Rev. Charles Nerinckx, 508, consulted and quoted in Ewen, Role of the Nun, 51.
  3. [3] Ewen, Role of the Nun, 53.
  4. [4] Flaget to Rosati, 11 September 1824, St. Louis Archdiocesan Archive, quoted in ibid., 54.
  5. [5] Ibid.

Luther Adams: Claiming the South as Home: African Americans and Southern Identity

Way Up North in Louisville: African American Migration in the Urban South, 1930-1970, by Luther Adams We welcome a guest post today from Luther Adams, author of Way Up North in Louisville: African American Migration in the Urban South, 1930-1970. In the wake of World War II, when roughly half the black population left the South seeking greater opportunity and freedom in the North and West, the same desire often anchored African Americans to the South. Adams offers a powerful reinterpretation of the modern civil rights movement and of the transformations in black urban life within the contexts of migration, work, and urban renewal. While acknowledging the destructive downside of emerging post-industrialism for African Americans in the Jim Crow South, Adams concludes that persistent patterns of economic and racial inequality did not rob black people of their capacity to act in their own interests.

In the following post, Adams considers how African Americans have claimed the South as Home—on their own terms.


As I sat down to write about Louisville, Kentucky, I thought of Tennessee. Not the place, but the song. In 1992 Arrested Development recorded “Tennessee,” a prayer to the Lord for guidance. God said, “go back from whence you came.” Tennessee. Home.

Arrested Development’s song meditates on the power of returning to the place from “whence you came.” As home the South is a site of oppression and the place where African American people and culture was born. Through repetition “Tennessee” insists the South is home and that being rooted in history and the earth where your ancestors lived, worked, and died can heal black people suffering from life in urban ghettos. For African Americans, defining the South as home demands an acknowledgement of slavery, Jim Crow, and ongoing racial violence. It demands the value of black lives and families be recognized. Go home, the MC Speech implores, to “walk the roads my forefathers walked/ climb the trees where my forefathers hung from.” Home, the place of “my family tree, my family name.”

In “Tennessee,” Arrested Development left us a jam that added to a rich body of black political thought conceptualizing and acknowledging the South as Home. More than a hundred years before, in 1864, a black church leader from Port Royal, South Carolina, crystallized African Americans’ connection to the South, saying, “[T]his very land is rich with the sweat of we face and the blood of we back. We born here, we parents’ grave here; this here our home.” The phrasing “we face,” “we back,” “we born,” and “our home,” expresses a collective basis of identification among African Americans in Port Royal. Well aware of the wealth generated by their labor and blood, African Americans looked to the past, their shared experiences in slavery, and understanding of themselves as a people to shape their sense of the Home.

Similarly, in her incisive Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Angela Davis points to the role of collective memory in African Americans’ view of the South as Home. The South was not only a place of oppression but for Davis, “Home is evocatively and metaphorically represented as the South, conceptualized as the territorial location of historical sites of resistance to white supremacy.”

Home is not just about the past but also the present and future. Continue reading ‘Luther Adams: Claiming the South as Home: African Americans and Southern Identity’ »

Excerpt: Talkin’ Tar Heel, by Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser

Talkin' Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North CarolinaDrawing on over two decades of research and 3,000 recorded interviews from every corner of the state, Talkin’ Tar Heel: How Our Voices Tell the Story of North Carolina introduces readers to the unique regional, social, and ethnic dialects of North Carolina, as well as its major languages, including American Indian languages and Spanish. Considering how we speak as a reflection of our past and present, Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser show how languages and dialects are a fascinating way to understand our state’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. The book is enhanced by maps and illustrations and augmented by more than 100 audio and video recordings, which can be found online at

In the following excerpt from the book (pp. 74-76), Wolfram and Reaser explore how urbanization affects dialect and cultural identity among North Carolinians. (Note: The print edition of the book contains QR codes that link to related media at We’ve embedded hyperlinks in the body of the text below.)

Some of the regional differences in North Carolina can be quite striking, but we don’t have to travel very far to hear distinctive dialects. Lots of differences can be explained by appealing to a couple of distinctions: rural and urban and young and old. To hear the contrast, residents of metropolitan centers like Charlotte, Raleigh, or Greensboro only need to go to a farmers market where an older farmer is selling fresh produce from his family farm, putting your snaps, taters, and butter beans in a poke for you to carry home. Or go to a local country barbecue pit and learn about the intricacies of eastern and western style ‘cue. Rural folks are known for maintaining more traditional ways of southern speaking to complement a range of other lifestyle differences, and city folks may shift their ways of speaking and acting to sound more cosmopolitan.

A worker in the Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte who asks you to “mash the button” for the elevator or to “he’p him tote the computer right yonder” would get a quizzical look or a patronizing chuckle for “talking country” in the towering edifice representing the second-largest financial center in the United States. But those who react in condescension may not realize that this way of speaking was the dialect norm in the city just a couple of generations ago—and probably in the residential home that once stood on this site. As one elderly Charlotte resident, born in 1919, recalled: “I remember when Discovery Place was just a little neighborhood store.”[1] Discovery Place, of course, is the modern science and technology museum built in the uptown area of Charlotte in the 1980s.

The label country in “they speak country” is more than a synonym for rural. It embeds a set of personal and social traits that index assumptions about a lack of cultural sophistication, a limited education, and a rustic lifestyle. A recent study of students from the North Carolina mountains attending a southern urban university found that they had diverse reactions to “country speech” ranging from mild amusement to anger about the linguistic profile of an imagined country persona and nonstandard southern speech.[2] When combined with the noun bumpkin, as in “We don’t want to sound like country bumpkins,” it takes on a highly pejorative connotation.
Continue reading ‘Excerpt: Talkin’ Tar Heel, by Walt Wolfram and Jeffrey Reaser’ »

  1. [1] Quote from Neal Hutcheson, producer, Voices of North Carolina (Raleigh: North Carolina Language and Life Project, 2005).
  2. [2] See Stephany B. Dunstan, “The Influence of Speaking a Dialect of Appalachian English on the College Experience” (Ph.D. diss., North Carolina State University, 2013). Also see Lauren Hall-Lew and Nola Stephens, “County Talk,” Journal of English Linguistics 40, no. 1 (2012): 1–25.

Sarah S. Elkind: Air Pollution and Prosperity

Elkind, How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy cover imageWe welcome a guest post today from Sarah S. Elkind, author of How Local Politics Shape Federal Policy: Business, Power, and the Environment in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles. In the book, Elkind focuses on five Los Angeles environmental policy debates between 1920 and 1950, investigating how practices in American municipal government gave business groups political legitimacy at the local level as well as unanticipated influence over federal politics. In this guest post, Elkind considers air pollution in mid-twentieth-century Los Angeles and twenty-first-century China.


I was recently interviewed for a series of radio essays called “We Used to Be China,” on China’s air pollution, by Sarah Gardner at American Public Radio’s Marketplace. These stories got me thinking about China’s air pollution problem, and about Marketplace‘s premise. Did we, the United States, used to be China? In what ways?

China’s appalling air pollution has been in heavy rotation in American news this spring and summer as an adjunct to stories of China’s economic growth, and because air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities has become so unimaginably bad. China, of course, is not the only country struggling with smog. The World Health Organization reported in May 2014 that air quality in most cities has declined since 2011. WHO attributes the deterioration of air quality in “middle income countries” like China and India to increased use of motor vehicles and electricity from coal-fired power plants.[1] Prosperity in these countries breeds pollution.

In Los Angeles, air pollution was also caused by industrial production, automobiles, and affluence. After the Clean Air Act of 1970, air quality in Los Angeles steadily improved, until the boom of the 1990s; so many Angelenos purchased low-mileage sport utility vehicles in that prosperous era that air quality declined. In the 1940s, Los Angeles’s first smog crisis was caused by a wartime surge in industrial production, oil refining, and automobile use. Perhaps more significantly, the connection between pollution and prosperity has been linked in Americans’ minds for a hundred years. The Right uses this connection to weaken all sorts of regulations, including those which would improve public health and environmental quality by reducing emissions from coal-fired power plant and cars.

Does that make the mid-twentieth-century United States like today’s China? In some ways, absolutely. Continue reading ‘Sarah S. Elkind: Air Pollution and Prosperity’ »

  1. [1] See World Health Organization, “Air Quality Deteriorating in Many of the World’s Cities,” news release, 7 May 2014,

Excerpt: The Indicted South, by Angie Maxwell

The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of WhitenessBy the 1920s, the sectional reconciliation that had seemed achievable after Reconstruction was foundering, and the South was increasingly perceived and portrayed as impoverished, uneducated, and backward. In The Indicted South: Public Criticism, Southern Inferiority, and the Politics of Whiteness Angie Maxwell examines and connects three key twentieth-century moments in which the South was exposed to intense public criticism, identifying in white southerners’ responses a pattern of defensiveness that shaped the region’s political and cultural conservatism. Maxwell exposes the way the perception of regional inferiority confronted all types of southerners, focusing on the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, and the birth of the anti-evolution movement; the publication of I’ll Take My Stand and the turn to New Criticism by the Southern Agrarians; and Virginia’s campaign of Massive Resistance and Interposition in response to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Tracing the effects of media scrutiny and the ridicule that characterized national discourse in each of these cases, Maxwell reveals the reactionary responses that linked modern southern whiteness with anti-elitism, states’ rights, fundamentalism, and majoritarianism

In the following excerpt (pp. 54–58), Maxwell discusses the origin of the Scopes Trial in the Butler Act, which prevented the teaching of evolution in public schools.


The War between the States . . . Again

In the years preceding the Scopes Trial, the anti-evolution message was proclaimed incessantly throughout Tennessee, which appeared prominently on the speaking schedule for Dr. William Bell Riley, president of the World Christian Fundamentals Association, in 1923. Summoned by several prominent Tennessee attorneys, William Jennings Bryan also delivered a historic address in Nashville, “Is the Bible True?” The sermon proved so stirring that it inspired the sponsors to disseminate thousands of printed copies throughout the state; an additional 500 pamphlets were provided to members of the Tennessee statehouse upon its 1925 opening session. The result was the Butler Bill, House Bill 185, sponsored by John Washington Butler and introduced on January 21, 1925. Initially, the bill was recommended for rejection by the house committee to which it was assigned. But local evangelical ministers held powerful sway in the state of Tennessee.[1] Despite vocal opposition, from university academics to editorials in the Nashville Banner, warning about the threat the bill posed to free speech, one particular line of argument proved effective. Rev. A. B. Barrett of the Fayetteville Church of Christ “charged that many college students were returning home atheists and agnostics because of the teachings of Darwinism.”[2] The Tennessee preacher, whether knowingly or not, touched on one of the greatest anxieties of God-fearing parents of the 1920s.

The very foundations of the anti-evolutionist argument had long been focused on the fear that children would lose their religious faith if they were exposed to Darwin’s theories, and the movement proudly proclaimed that its primary intention was to save American youth from self-destruction. Many of Bryan’s early speeches heralding the literalist interpretation of the Bible and denouncing Darwinism were offered as reactions to books such as The Belief in God and Immortality: A Psychological and Anthropological and Statistical Study by James Henry Leuba, published in 1916. Leuba’s research concluded that during their experience with higher education, particularly throughout the four years of college, many students lost interest in their religious faith.[3] The Butler Act was, in fact, sponsored by a father whose children began questioning the church of their upbringing after their high school science classes presented the theory of evolution. Anti-evolutionists played on this fear of southern Christian parents—the fear that examining the origins of man would lead to a more far-reaching rejection of the Bible and a subsequent embrace of modernity. And, of course, embracing modernity could affect not only one’s religious commitment but also the racial contract upon which the Jim Crow system relied.
Continue reading ‘Excerpt: The Indicted South, by Angie Maxwell’ »

  1. [1] Israel, Before Scopes, 145–46.
  2. [2] Bailey, “Enactment of Tennessee’s Anti-Evolution Law,” 477.
  3. [3] Coletta, Political Puritan, 200.

UNC Press Scholarly Monographs Now Live on Oxford’s UPSO Platform

UNC Press

The University of North Carolina Press is pleased to announce the launch of North Carolina Scholarship Online on Oxford University Press’s University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform to take advantage of a fully enabled XML environment with cutting-edge search and discovery functionality. UNC Press books are now live on the UPSO platform.

“The University of North Carolina Press is honored and excited to be a part of the University Press Scholarship Online platform,” said John Sherer, Director of The University of North Carolina Press. “Part of our 10-decade long tradition has been to disseminate the work of our authors as broadly as possible and this new partnership will achieve that in a dynamic new way.”

Responding to increased demand for online scholarly content, UPSO streamlines the research process by making disparately published monographs easily accessible, highly discoverable, and fully cross-searchable via one online platform. Research that previously would have required users to jump between a variety of books and disconnected websites can now be concentrated through a single search engine.

UPSO’s mission is to create an individually-branded home for monographs from each participating university press just as it has done for Oxford Scholarship Online while allowing highly intuitive tools to deep search across all the content in the program. As such, UPSO will be the premier online research tool—for scholars, teachers, graduate and undergraduate students—and an essential resource for all academic libraries.

Benefits of UPSO for academics, libraries, and partner presses:

  • Provides the highest quality scholarly content across 28 subject areas
  • Includes a vast and growing number of titles (14,000+ to date), all with abstracts and keywords at both the book and chapter level for each title
  • All UPSO content is available in XML, which provides deep tagging and better search results. Content can also be saved and downloaded to PDF
  • Content is fully cross-referenced and cross-searchable, with clickable citations from bibliographies and footnotes, including OpenURL and DOI-linking support
  • Allows users to streamline research through a single online platform
  • Can be easily integrated into library systems and updated frequently with new content
  • Offers full customer support services as well as flexibility and choice in purchasing models
  • Fully mobile optimized for use on smartphones and tablets
  • Increases discoverability and usage of university press scholarly materials

“The University of North Carolina Press is an exemplar of scholarly publishing, a perfect representative of the best American university presses have to offer,” said Niko Pfund, President of Oxford University Press USA. “UPSO’s holdings will be much enhanced by UNC’s top-quality scholarship, defined as it is by rigorous peer review and attentive editing.”


Excerpt: New Netherland Connections, by Susanah Shaw Romney

New Netherland Connections:  Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century AmericaSusanah Shaw Romney locates the foundations of the early modern Dutch empire in interpersonal transactions among women and men. As West India Company ships began sailing westward in the early seventeenth century, soldiers, sailors, and settlers drew on kin and social relationships to function within an Atlantic economy and the nascent colony of New Netherland. In the greater Hudson Valley, Dutch newcomers, Native American residents, and enslaved Africans wove a series of intimate networks that reached from the West India Company slave house on Manhattan, to the Haudenosaunee longhouses along the Mohawk River, to the inns and alleys of maritime Amsterdam.

Using vivid stories culled from Dutch-language archives, New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America brings to the fore the essential role of women in forming and securing these relationships, and she reveals how a dense web of these intimate networks created imperial structures from the ground up. These structures were equally dependent on male and female labor and rested on small- and large-scale economic exchanges between people from all backgrounds. This work pioneers a new understanding of the development of early modern empire as arising out of personal ties.

New Netherland Connections was awarded the 2013 Jamestown Prize from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the Annual Hendricks Award for 2013 from the New Netherland Institute.

In the following excerpt (pp. 41-43), Romney discusses how Dutch travelers across the Atlantic often depended on women relatives for management of their financial interests back in the Netherlands.


Eventually, soldiers, sailors, and travelers left the houses and inns of maritime Amsterdam behind and took their place on board ships headed to New Netherland and elsewhere. With the chartering of the [West India Company (WIC)] in 1621, the number of Atlantic-bound ships rose, and increasing numbers of Amsterdammers followed in Marritgen Wouters’s footsteps, waving goodbye to family, spouses, and friends sailing out across the Zuider Zee. As those ships began taking settlers to North America in 1623, more and more travelers needed someone to help them manage their newly transatlantic finances. They turned to their kin, immediate connections, and family. Ties within and between maritime families enabled people to negotiate the small-scale, informal, and grey economies that flourished in these years. Once the WIC changed its regulations to allow wider access to the beaver-skin trade in 1638, travelers used these same intimate networks to enter the transatlantic fur trade. Growing migration by middling families and the creation of a burgher population in New Netherland in the 1640s and 1650s caused an even wider range of travelers and Amsterdammers to become caught up in trading networks involving an ever greater variety of goods. Complex webs and financial instruments show that these networks developed into a functional Atlantic economy that ran in tandem with the economy of formal companies and larger interests. The structure of this new Atlantic economy paralleled that of the local early modern economy, from the participation of women to the reliance on face-to-face, personal systems of credit and trust. Thus, the intimate networks of travelers and Amsterdammers allowed for the development of a diffuse, participatory commercial economy that diversified the trade system beyond the large-scale merchant houses and equally helped establish the Dutch Atlantic empire.

When Amsterdammers and travelers waved goodbye to one another, the financial ties between them did not suddenly end; people continued to manage their personal and financial lives together. The wealthiest travelers left behind families and kin, houses and partnerships, accounts and credits due. The poorest left crushing debts and needy family members. People had to find someone they could trust to represent them honestly and further family interests in their absence. Travelers most often turned to the very family members, kin, and intimate connections who waved goodbye from shore. Relatives and in-laws, parents and spouses, friends and neighbors were among those whom travelers counted on most. For instance, Wouter Jansz, a sailor going to “the Virginias” in the service of the WIC in 1627, asked his two uncles to oversee the inheritance due him from the estate of his wife’s late grandmother. Both his financial capital and his financial representatives were drawn from among his close relatives.[1]
Continue reading ‘Excerpt: New Netherland Connections, by Susanah Shaw Romney’ »

  1. [1] Empowerment, May 7, 1627, Not. Arch. 721, 158, Not. P. Carelsz, SA.

Raúl Necochea López: Therapeutic Abortion Finally Regulated in Peru after Being Legal (Kinda) for 90 Years

A History of Family Planning in Twentieth-Century Peru, by Raul Necochea LopezWe welcome a guest post today from Raúl Necochea López, author of A History of Family Planning in Twentieth-Century Peru. Adding to the burgeoning study of medicine and science in Latin America, this important book offers a comprehensive historical perspective on the highly contentious issues of sexual and reproductive health in an important Andean nation. Necochea López approaches family planning as a historical phenomenon layered with medical, social, economic, and moral implications. At stake in this complex mix were new notions of individual autonomy, the future of gender relations, and national prosperity.

In the following post, Necochea López reports on Peru’s recently established guidelines that finally bring the country’s laws regarding therapeutic abortion out of a 90-year legal limbo.


I was in Santiago recently, attending a workshop on the history of family planning in Latin America, with colleagues from Chile and Argentina, myself representing Peru. One of my tasks was to discuss how therapeutic abortion came to matter to physicians in my country in the 1920s. After all, it had been this generation of physicians who witnessed the legalization of therapeutic abortion in 1924. Article 163 of the Penal Code defined therapeutic abortions as those demanded by women and performed by clinicians, in consultation with a committee of their peers, “if there is no other way to save a mother’s life or avoid a permanent and severe lesion in her.” However, Peruvian authorities at the time did not answer crucial questions to make the law applicable, such as which lesions counted as permanent and severe, or what interventions should be used to cause an abortion, or how far into a pregnancy an abortion could be provoked. As a result, the law remained in a legal limbo that made it difficult to enforce, while endangering women’s lives and vexing medical professionals.

By some fascinating coincidence, this all changed on the very day of my talk in Santiago, on June 27, 2014, with the publication of Peru’s Ministry of Health’s new guideline, which standardizes the procedures to be used should the need for an abortion arise for pregnancies under 22 weeks. (You can read the text of the guideline here.) Continue reading ‘Raúl Necochea López: Therapeutic Abortion Finally Regulated in Peru after Being Legal (Kinda) for 90 Years’ »