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In 1823, the History of the Celebrated Mrs. Ann Carson rattled Philadelphia society and became one of the most scandalous, and eagerly read, memoirs of the age. This tale of a woman who tried to rescue her lover from the gallows and attempted to kidnap the governor of Pennsylvania tantalized its audience with illicit love, betrayal, and murder. Carson's ghostwriter, Mary Clarke, was no less daring. Clarke pursued dangerous associations and wrote scandalous exposés based on her own and others' experiences. She immersed herself in the world of criminals and disreputable actors, using her acquaintance with this demimonde to shape a career as a sensationalist writer. In Dangerous to Know, Susan Branson follows the fascinating lives of Ann Carson and Mary Clarke, offering an engaging study of gender and class in the early nineteenth century. According to Branson, episodes in both women's lives illustrate their struggles within a society that constrained women's activities and ambitions. She argues that both women simultaneously tried to conform to and manipulate the dominant sexual, economic, and social ideologies of the time. In their own lives and through their writing, the pair challenged conventions prescribed by these ideologies to further their own ends and redefine what was possible for women in early American public life.
Buried Lives offers the first critical examination of the experience of imprisonment in early America. These interdisciplinary essays investigate several carceral institutions to show how confinement shaped identity, politics, and the social imaginary both in the colonies and in the new nation. The historians and literary scholars included in this volume offer a complement and corrective to conventional understandings of incarceration that privilege the intentions of those in power over the experiences of prisoners. Considering such varied settings as jails, penitentiaries, almshouses, workhouses, floating prison ships, and plantations, the contributors reconstruct the struggles of people imprisoned in locations from Antigua to Boston. The essays draw upon a rich array of archival sources from the seventeenth century to the eve of the Civil War, including warden logs, petitions, execution sermons, physicians' clinical notes, private letters, newspaper articles, runaway slave advertisements, and legal documents. Through the voices, bodies, and texts of the incarcerated, Buried Lives reveals the largely ignored experiences of inmates who contested their subjection to regimes of power.
“Ghosts of Futures Past is a path-breaking book of vast learning and scrupulous scholarship by a gifted writer. With an impressive command of a variety of cultural domains, Molly McGarry brilliantly rethinks and reframes the relations of gender and intellectual culture, of spiritualism and secularism, and of rationalization and modernity in ways that realign our understanding of the American cultural landscape in the nineteenth century.”—Thomas Bender, author of The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea "In discussing the transfiguration of bodies and genders in American Spiritualism, McGarry provides a fascinating critique of the secularist bias of much of the history of sexuality. This is perhaps the weightiest, the most thoughtful, the most powerfully original, of all the many contributions her book makes."—Henry Abelove, author of The Evangelist of Desire: John Wesley and the Methodists and Deep Gossip “What might American history of the nineteenth century look like if we were not in such a rush to declare religious faith supplanted by science? McGarry's book provides tantalizing answers, inviting us to consider a nineteenth-century America where Spiritualists persisted and where people had good reasons to mourn. She not only shows us the popularity and centrality of connecting the living to the dead, she argues convincingly that this spiritual practice shaped a whole host of other cultural narratives: gender, sexuality, medicine, race, and ethnicity.”—Kathi Kern, author of Mrs. Stanton's Bible
Based on the journals of a nineteenth-century African-American man, a firsthand history chronicles the life and times of Amos Webber--Civil War veteran, conductor on the Underground Railroad, political activist, and founder of the African-American fraternal movement. Reprint.
This second edition of Historical Dictionary of the Early American Republic contains a chronology, an introduction, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 500 cross-referenced entries on important personalities, politics, economy, foreign relations, religion, and culture. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about American history.
On July 4, 1796, a group of women gathered in York, Pennsylvania, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of American independence. They drank tea and toasted the Revolution, the Constitution, and, finally, the rights of women. This event would have been unheard of thirty years before, but a popular political culture developed after the war in which women were actively involved, despite the fact that they could not vote or hold political office. This newfound atmosphere not only provided women with opportunities to celebrate national occasions outside the home but also enabled them to conceive of possessing specific rights in the young republic and to demand those rights in very public ways. Susan Branson examines the avenues through which women's presence became central to the competition for control of the nation's political life and, despite attempts to quell the emerging power of women—typified by William Cobbett's derogatory label of politically active women as "these fiery Frenchified dames"—demonstrates that the social, political, and intellectual ideas regarding women in the post-Revolutionary era contributed to a more significant change in women's public lives than most historians have recognized. As an early capital of the United States, the leading publishing center, and the largest and most cosmopolitan city in America during the eighteenth century, Philadelphia exerted a considerable influence on national politics, society, and culture. It was in Philadelphia that the Federalists and Democratic Republicans first struggled for America's political future, with women's involvement critical to the outcome of their heated partisan debates. Middle and upper-class women of Philadelphia were able to achieve a greater share in the culture and politics of the new nation through several key developments, including theaters and salons that were revitalized following the war, allowing women to intermingle and participate in political discussions, and the wider availability of national and international writings, particularly those that described women's involvement in the French Revolution—perhaps the most important and controversial historical event in the early development of American women's political consciousness. Given these circumstances, Branson argues, American women were able to create new more active social and political roles for themselves that brought them out of the home and into the public sphere. Although excluded from the formal political arenas of voting and lawmaking, American women in the Age of Revolution nevertheless thought and acted politically and were able to make their presence and opinions known to the benefit of a young nation.
The story of the rise of prisons and development of prison systems in the United States has been studied extensively in scholarship, but the experiences of female inmates in these institutions have not received the same attention. Historically, women incarcerated in prison, jails, and reformatories accounted for a small number of inmates across the United States. Early on, they were often held in prisons alongside men and faced neglect, exploitation, and poor living conditions. Various attempts to reform them, ranging from moral instruction and education to domestic training, faced opposition at times from state officials, prison employees, and even male prison reformers. Due to the consistent small populations and relative neglect the women often faced, their experiences in prison have been understudied. This collection of essays seeks to recapture the perspective on women’s prison experience from a range of viewpoints. This edited collection will explore the challenges women faced as inmates, their efforts to exert agency or control over their lives and bodies, how issues of race and social class influenced experiences, and how their experiences differed from that of male inmates. Contributions extend from the early nineteenth century into the twenty-first century to provide an opportunity to examine change over time with regards to female imprisonment. Furthermore, the chapters examine numerous geographic regions, allowing for readers to analyze how place and environment shapes the inmate experience.

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