The title for this week’s blog is adapted from this 1780 pamphlet by Joseph Galloway, one of dozens of such publications available for use in the Archives & Special Collections. While we don’t claim anything like the comprehensive coverage of the published debates around the American Revolution available at places like the American Antiquarian Society, we do have a respectable teaching collection.
Between these examples and the eighteenth-century manuscripts in the Plimpton French and Indian War Items and the Lord Jeffery Amherst collections, researchers can gain insight into the tumultuous decades between the 1750s and the close of the American Revolution in 1783. [Note that many items from the Jeffery Amherst Collection are now available online, and digitization of that collection is ongoing.]
Beyond these sources, our collections are rich in sermons and speeches from Fourth of July celebrations, particularly those printed in Western Massachusetts:
It is fascinating the way that these orations capture both the current concerns of their authors and shifting views of the American origin story. The telling and re-telling of that origin myth appears in many other sources in our collections.
This is just one of four editions of Trumbull’s History available in the Archives & Special Collections. I picked this one because of its particularly lurid, hand-colored frontispiece:
What makes this Fourth of July different in the Archives, is that we have added the writings of hundreds of Indigenous authors to the many accounts of the Anglo-American origin story.
William Apess features prominently in our collections and is a major figure of early nineteenth-century Native writing. In this work, he reaches back 100 years before the Declaration of Independence to eulogize the leader of the seventeenth-century war with the colonists of New England.
In stark contrast to the violence depicted in the illustrations above, this pamphlet contains a speech by Elias Boudinott during his fundraising campaign to establish a printing press for the Cherokee Nation. The development of the Cherokee syllabary and the establishment of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper in the 1810s and 20s run counter to popular accounts of Native people as unwilling to adapt to the modern world. In his latest book, This Indian Country: Native Activists and the Space They Made, Frederick Hoxie (AC 1969) focuses on the history of non-violent Native resistance to Anglo-American domination. [Listen to Kiara Vigil interview Professor Hoxie about his book on the Amherst Reads site]
Although we do not hold a copy of the extremely rare first edition of this work — originally printed in 1828 — this work is generally regarded as the first history of an Indigenous nation by an Indigenous author published in English. Daniel Radus of Cornell University recently published an article about the complex ways in which Cusick’s History combines traditional Haudenosaunee concepts of history with the conventions of Anglo-American print culture.
Our focus in the Archives is on gathering material evidence that will support new scholarly work on the history and literature of the Native peoples of North America that may transform our understanding of the history of the United States. Soon, we will begin adding the 500+ books from the Joseph Bruchac Collection to our online catalog, adding more recent works to our extensive holdings.