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“The Government of this Colledge is very Strict”

Yesterday I quoted the start of John Adams’s description of his first visit to Princeton in August 1774, when he was on his way to the First Continental Congress. Adams viewed the college’s Nassau Hall, the mansion of Judge Richard Stockton,...Show More Summary

John Adams’s First Visit to Princeton

On 27 Aug 1775, John Adams visited the College of New Jersey in Princeton. He arrived in town about noon, checking into Jacob Hyer’s tavern at the “Sign of Hudibrass,” near the college’s Nassau Hall (shown here).In his diary Adams recorded...Show More Summary

“Very fit for a Saturday morning’s declamation”

Yesterday we left William Wirt at about age thirteen in 1785 or so, chafing at an unjust accusation and physical punishment by his school’s usher, or assistant master. Wirt was living with the master of his school, the Rev. James Hunt, and from his books had already developed literary ambitions.Our youth was an author, be it remembered. Show More Summary

The Work that Confederate Monuments Continue To Do

One of the most common questions that I received from reporters this past two weeks was why so many Confederate monuments were dedicated within such a short period of time […]

William Wirt’s Schooldays

William Wirt (1772-1834) was an author, biographer of Patrick Henry, lawyer, and U.S. Attorney General for nearly twelve years. Shortly before dying, Peter H. Cruse (1795-1832) wrote a biographical sketch of Wirt that was published in a volume of early newspaper essays. Show More Summary

The Two Weeks in August When Historians Mattered

The last two weeks have been a blur. The public discussion about the fate of Confederate monuments continues with no end in sight, fueled in part by the president’s own […]

Thomas Coram and a Symposium in Greenwich

On 30 October there will be a symposium in London on “Art, Charity & the Navy: The Greenwich & Foundling Hospitals.” This event is hosted and co-sponsored by the Foundling Hospital and Royal Museums Greenwich with its Queen’s House and...Show More Summary

A City Covers Robert E. Lee and Mourns Heather Heyer

This afternoon the city of Charlottesville placed a black tarp over the Robert E. Lee monument in Emancipation Park to honor Heather Heyer. Heather was murdered by white nationalists who […]

The Legal Realities of the Touro Synagogue

This month the U.S. Circuit Court in Boston decided which congregation owned the historic Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and (the crux of the case) the eighteenth-century rimonim that silversmith Myer Myers made to adorn its Torah scrolls. Show More Summary

A Trial and Execution in India

What was happening in India while the siege of Boston got under way on the far side of the world? The Executed Today blog describes a controversial court case:On [5 Aug] 1775, inconvenient Indian official Nandakumar (or Nand Kumar, or...Show More Summary

Dr. Joshua Frost’s Calculation of an Eclipse

While exploring the fictionalized account of the early military career of Jacob Frost, I mentioned his younger brother, Dr. Joshua Frost.Dr. Frost graduated from Harvard College in 1793. The university still holds his drawing of the lunar eclipse that would occur on 14 Feb 1794. Show More Summary

The Stoneham Meeting and the Rev. John Carnes

The Congregational Library recently announced that it had added the church records of two more Massachusetts towns—Brockton and Stoneham—to its “Hidden Histories” digital collection.The description of the Stoneham materials says:The town of Stoneham, previously known as Charlestown End, was incorporated in 1725. Show More Summary

“British Occupation of Newport,” 26 Aug.

On Saturday, 26 August, the Newport Historical Society will host another of its highly regarded living history events, this one depicting “The British Occupation of Newport’s Old Quarter.” The overview:During the Revolutionary War, the British occupied Newport, Rhode Island, for nearly three years—a time that dramatically changed the city. Show More Summary

My Position on Confederate Monuments

In 2011 I published a piece at the Atlantic about the vandalism of the Robert E. Lee monument in Charlottesville. This week I was asked to reflect on how my […]

Tarleton’s Designs and Daughter

As a follow-up to yesterday’s posting about the British actress Mary Robinson, here’s an investigation by Sarah Murden of All Things Georgian about Robinson, her daughter, and her (their?) lover, Col. Banastre Tarleton:In 1797 MajorShow More Summary

Richmond’s Monument Avenue Will Be Transformed

This has been one hell of a week. I have done more media interviews over the past few days than I have over the past decade. In addition to interviews […]

Mary Robinson, Fashion Icon

Earlier this month, Prof. Terry F. Robinson wrote on the 18th-Century Common website about the British actress Mary Robinson (1757?-1800) and how she was an early example of a celebrity who shaped clothing fashion:Mary Robinson’s meteoric...Show More Summary

Elizabeth Armistead, Wife of Charles James Fox

Last month Geri Walton, author of Marie Antoinette’s Confidante, profiled Elizabeth Armistead (1750-1841).A courtesan and actress in London, Armistead was mistress to the second Viscount Bolingbroke; Gen. Richard Smith, head of the East...Show More Summary

Reviewing John Adams’s Political Ideas

Today’s leg of my trip takes me from Philadelphia to the Washington, D.C., area—a move the federal government made in John Adams’s administration.Here are extracts from Tom Cutterham’s review for the American Journal of Legal History...Show More Summary

Empty Pedestals Need to be Interpreted

In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville we are now witnessing a wave of Confederate monument removals across the country. Yesterday a group tore down a Confederate soldier statue […]

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