In a landmark work of history, Russell Shorto presents astonishing information on the founding of our nation and reveals in riveting detail the crucial role of the Dutch in making America what it is today.
In the late 1960s, an archivist in the New York State Library made an astounding discovery: 12,000 pages of centuries-old correspondence, court cases, legal contracts, and reports from a forgotten society: the Dutch colony centered on Manhattan, which predated the thirteen "original" American colonies. For the past thirty years scholar Charles Gehring has been translating this trove, which was recently declared a national treasure. Now, Russell Shorto has made use of this vital material to construct a sweeping narrative of Manhattan's founding that gives a startling, fresh perspective on how America began.
In an account that blends a novelist's grasp of storytelling with cutting-edge scholarship, "The Island at the Center of the World" strips Manhattan of its asphalt, bringing us back to a wilderness island--a hunting ground for Indians, populated by wolves and bears--that became a prize in the global power struggle between the English and the Dutch. Indeed, Russell Shorto shows that America's founding was not the work of English settlers alone but a result of the clashing of these two seventeenth century powers. In fact, it was Amsterdam--Europe's most liberal city, with an unusual policy of tolerance and a polyglot society dedicated to free trade--that became the model for the city of New Amsterdam on Manhattan. While the Puritans of New England were founding a society based on intolerance, on Manhattan the Dutch created a free-trade, upwardly-mobile melting pot that would help shape not only New York, but America.
The story moves from the halls of power in London and The Hague to bloody naval encounters on the high seas. The characters in the saga--the men and women who played a part in Manhattan's founding--range from the philosopher Rene Descartes to James, the Duke of York, to prostitutes and smugglers. At the heart of the story is a bitter power struggle between two men: Peter Stuyvesant, the autocratic director of the Dutch colony, and a forgotten American hero named Adriaen van der Donck, a maverick, liberal-minded lawyer whose brilliant political gamesmanship, commitment to individual freedom, and exuberant love of his new country would have a lasting impact on the history of this nation.
This epic work--named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times--tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826.
In 1768, Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush stood before the empty throne of King George III, overcome with emotion as he gazed at the symbol of America's connection with England. Eight years later, he became one of the fifty-six men to sign the Declaration of Independence, severing America forever from its mother country. Rush was not alone in his radical decision -- many of those casting their votes in favor of independence did so with a combination of fear, reluctance, and even sadness.In Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor, acclaimed historian Richard R. Beeman examines the grueling twenty-two-month period between the meeting of the Continental Congress on September 5, 1774 and the audacious decision for independence in July of 1776. As late as 1774, American independence was hardly inevitable -- indeed, most Americans found it neither desirable nor likely. When delegates from the thirteen colonies gathered in September, they were, in the words of John Adams, a gathering of strangers. Yet over the next two years, military, political, and diplomatic events catalyzed a change of unprecedented magnitude: the colonists' rejection of their British identities in favor of American ones. In arresting detail, Beeman brings to life a cast of characters, including the relentless and passionate John Adams, Adams' much-misunderstood foil John Dickinson, the fiery political activist Samuel Adams, and the relative political neophyte Thomas Jefferson, and with profound insight reveals their path from subjects of England to citizens of a new nation. A vibrant narrative, Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor tells the remarkable story of how the delegates to the Continental Congress, through courage and compromise, came to dedicate themselves to the forging of American independence.
The year 2000 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of A Little Commonwealth by Bancroft Prize-winning scholar John Demos. This groundbreaking study examines the family in the context of the colony founded by the Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower. Basing his work on physical
artifacts, wills, estate inventories, and a variety of legal and official enactments, Demos portrays the family as a structure of roles and relationships, emphasizing those of husband and wife, parent and child, and master and servant. The book's most startling insights come from a reconsideration
of commonly-held views of American Puritans and of the ways in which they dealt with one another. Demos concludes that Puritan repression was not as strongly directed against sexuality as against the expression of hostile and aggressive impulses, and he shows how this pattern reflected prevalent
modes of family life and child-rearing. The result is an in-depth study of the ordinary life of a colonial community, located in the broader environment of seventeenth-century America.
Demos has provided a new foreword and a list of further reading for this second edition, which will offer a new generation of readers access to this classic study.
In this classic account of the American revolution, Pauline Maier traces the step-by-step process through which the extra-legal institutions of the colonial resistance movement assumed authority from the British. She follows the American Whigs as they moved by stages from the organized resistance of the Stamp Act crisis of 1765 through the non-importation associations of the late 1760s to the collapse of royal government after 1773, the implication of the king in a conspiracy against American liberties, and the consequent Declaration of Independence. Professor Maier's great achievement is to explain how Americans came to contemplate and establish their independence, guided by principle, reason, and experience.
"The Wordy Shipmates" is "New York Times"?bestselling author Sarah Vowell's exploration of the Puritans and their journey to America to become the people of John Winthrop's ?city upon a hill a shining example, a ?city that cannot be hid.?
To this day, America views itself as a Puritan nation, but Vowell investigates what that means? and what it should mean. What was this great political enterprise all about? Who were these people who are considered the philosophical, spiritual, and moral ancestors of our nation? What Vowell discovers is something far different from what their uptight shoe-buckles-and- corn reputation might suggest. The people she finds are highly literate, deeply principled, and surprisingly feisty. Their story is filled with pamphlet feuds, witty courtroom dramas, and bloody vengeance. Along the way she asks:
* Was Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop a communitarian, a Christlike Christian, or conformity's tyrannical enforcer? "Answer: Yes "
* Was Rhode Island's architect, Roger Williams, America's founding freak or the father of the First Amendment? "Same difference."
* What does it take to get that jezebel Anne Hutchinson to shut up? "A hatchet."
* What was the Puritans? pet name for the Pope? "The Great Whore of Babylon."
Sarah Vowell's special brand of armchair history makes the bizarre and esoteric fascinatingly relevant and fun. She takes us from the modern-day reenactment of an Indian massacre to the Mohegan Sun casino, from old-timey Puritan poetry, where ?righteousness? is rhymed with ?wilderness, ? to a Mayflower-themed waterslide. Throughout, "The Wordy Shipmates" is rich in historical fact, humorous insight, and social commentary by one of America's most celebrated voices. Thou shalt enjoy it.
In August 1680 the Pueblo Indians of northern New Mexico arose in fury to slay their Spanish colonial overlords and drive any survivors from the land. Andrew Knaut explores eight decades of New Mexican history leading up to the revolt, explaining how the newcomers had disrupted Pueblo life in far-reaching ways - they commandeered the Indians' food stores, exposed the Pueblos to new diseases, interrupted long-established trading relationships, and sparked increasing raids by surrounding Athapaskan nomads. The Pueblo Indians' violent success stemmed from an almost unprecedented unity of disparate factions and sophistication of planning in secrecy. When Spanish forces retook the colony in the 1690s, freedom proved short-lived. But the revolt stands as a vitally important yet neglected historical landmark: the only significant reversal of European expansion by Native American people in the New World.
From the perilous ocean crossing to the shared bounty of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim settlement of New England has become enshrined as our most sacred national myth. Yet, as bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals in his spellbinding new book, the true story of the Pilgrims is much more than the well-known tale of piety and sacrifice; it is a fifty-five-year epic that is at once tragic, heroic, exhilarating, and profound.
The Mayflower's religious refugees arrived in Plymouth Harbor during a period of crisis for Native Americans as disease spread by European fishermen devastated their populations. Initially the two groups--the Wampanoags, under the charismatic and calculating chief Massasoit, and the Pilgrims, whose pugnacious military officer Miles Standish was barely five feet tall--maintained a fragile working relationship. But within decades, New England would erupt into King Philip's War, a savagely bloody conflict that nearly wiped out English colonists and natives alike and forever altered the face of the fledgling colonies and the country that would grow from them.
With towering figures like William Bradford and the distinctly American hero Benjamin Church at the center of his narrative, Philbrick has fashioned a fresh and compelling portrait of the dawn of American history--a history dominated right from the start by issues of race, violence, and religion.
A sweeping account of America's oldest unsolved mystery, the people racing to unearth its answer, and the sobering truths--about race, gender, and immigration--exposed by the Lost Colony of Roanoke In 1587, 115 men, women, and children arrived at Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, their colony was to establish England's first foothold in the New World. But when the colony's leader, John White, returned to Roanoke from a resupply mission, his settlers were nowhere to be found. They left behind only a single clue--a "secret token" carved into a tree. Neither White nor any other European laid eyes on the colonists again. What happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke? For four hundred years, that question has consumed historians and amateur sleuths, leading only to dead ends and hoaxes. But after a chance encounter with a British archaeologist, journalist Andrew Lawler discovered that solid answers to the mystery were within reach. He set out to unravel the enigma of the lost settlers, accompanying competing researchers, each hoping to be the first to solve its riddle. In the course of his journey, Lawler encounters a host of characters obsessed with the colonists and their fate, and he determines why the Lost Colony continues to haunt our national consciousness. Thrilling and absorbing, The Secret Token offers a new understanding not just of the first English settlement in the New World but of how its disappearance continues to define--and divide--America.