Category Archives: Books

New Book: Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt


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Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and DebtFinancial historians Richard Sylla and David J. Cowen’s new book Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt (Columbia Univ Press, 2018) traces the development of Alexander Hamilton’s financial thinking through a selection of his writings.

Hamilton’s influence on the United States financial system extends through public finance, central banking, money and currency, banking, bond and stock markets, business corporations, and the issuing of government debt.

The authors argue that despite a recent surge of interest in Hamilton, U.S. financial modernization has not been fully recognized as one of his greatest achievements. Continue reading

Muslims & Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America


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ben_franklins_worldIn this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Karoline Cook, author of Forbidden Passages: Muslims and Moriscos in Colonial Spanish America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016), serves as our guide as we explore some of the political, cultural, and religious history of New Spain. Specifically, how Spaniards and Spanish Americans used ideas about Muslims and a group of “new Christian” converts called Moriscos to define who could and should be able to settle and help the Spanish colonies in North America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/178

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The Social Life of Maps in America


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Did you know that maps have social lives? Maps facilitate a lot of different social and political relationships between people and nations. And they did a lot of this work for Americans throughout the early American past.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Martin Brückner, a Professor of English at the University of Delaware, joins us to discuss early American maps and early American mapmaking with details from his book The Social Life of Maps in America, 1750-1860 (Omohundro Institute, 2017).
 You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/177

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Adriaen van der Donck: 17th Century Dutch Legal Rebel


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Adriaen Van Der Donck A Dutch RebelJulie Van Den Hout’s new book Adriaen Van Der Donck: A Dutch Rebel in Seventeenth-century America (Excelsior Editions, 2018) tells the compelling story of Adriaen van der Donck (1618–1655), whose fight to secure the struggling Dutch colony of New Netherland made him a controversial but pivotal figure in early America.

At best, he has been labeled a hero, a visionary, and a spokesman of the people. At worst, he has been branded arrogant and selfish, thinking only of his own ambitions.

The wide range of opinions about him testifies to the fact that, more than three centuries after his death, Van der Donck (after whose honorific Jonkheer, Yonkers is named) remains an intriguing character. Continue reading

John White Alexander: An American Artist


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john white alexander bookMary Anne Goley’s new book John White Alexander: An American Artist in the Gilded Age (Philip Wilson Publishers, 2018) is an illustrated history of celebrated American artist John White Alexander that includes 90 color and black-and-white illustrations.

At the time of his death, the Pittsburgh-born John White Alexander (1856-1915) was an internationally-recognized portrait painter, on a par with his contemporaries John Singer Sargent and William Merrit Chase. However, the works that have earned him even greater acclaim than his portraits are his figure paintings of femmes fatales, usually richly attired in flowing dresses and striking elaborate poses. Continue reading

The Value of Slaves from Womb to Grave


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What did it mean to be a person and to also be a commodity in early America?

We can’t really understand the history of early America unless we also grapple with the institution of slavery because the two were so intertwined.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast,  Daina Ramey Berry, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas, Austin and author of The Price For Their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation (Beacon Press, 2017), takes us behind the scenes of her research so we can explore how early Americans valued and commodified enslaved men, women, and children. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/176

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The Revolution in Ben Franklin’s House


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Just how personal was the American Revolution?

What could the event and war mean for individual people and families?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World; A Podcast About Early American History, Daniel Mark Epstein, author of The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House (Ballentine, 2017), guides as as we explore what the Revolution meant for Benjamin Franklin and his family and how the Revolution caused a major rift between Franklin and his beloved son, William. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/175

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Yellow Fever in the Early American Republic


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ben_franklins_worldIt’s February 2018 and doctors have declared this year’s seasonal flu epidemic as one of the worst to hit the United States in over a decade. Yet this flu epidemic is nothing compared to the yellow fever epidemics that struck the early American republic during the 1790s and early 1800s.

So what happened when epidemic diseases took hold in early America? How did early Americans deal with disease and illness?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Thomas Apel, author of Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds: Science and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic (Stanford University Press, 2016), has some answers for us. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/174

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