Posted in History and Political Science, Main, Virginiana
jane Archaeologists have called her “Jane.”
She was only fourteen years old when she died at James Fort, part of the Jamestown settlement, during the winter of 1609-10. That winter has been called the “starving time” because of its particular brutality. The settlers dared not stray far from the fort, for fear of being preyed on by the Powhatans, and so they had been driven to eat rats and snakes in order to survive. Until now, the possibility that human flesh was also devoured had been just speculation. Recent excavation at the former site of Jamestown, however, confirms that during the “starving time” the fort’s inhabitants did indeed resort to cannibalism.
William Kelso, chief archaeologist of the Jamestown Rediscovery Project and author of our Jamestown: The Buried Truth, led a team that discovered, in a pile of bones of slaughtered animals, the skull and leg bone of the young girl “Jane.” The marks found on Jane’s remains–marks made by manmade objects that show deliberate hacking and cutting–are consistent with findings on the bones of cannibalism victims. Using the skull, researchers were able to construct a replica of the girl’s head, seen in the photo top left.
This unnerving, but fascinating, episode in American colonial history is the subject of reports by the BBC and by U.S. News & World Report. The Jamestown Rediscovery Project has produced the video below, in which Dr. Kelso and other experts illustrate the significance of this remarkable discovery.
Posted in Featured, History and Political Science
May 2 is National Prayer Day. John Ragosta, author of Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed, penned the following thoughts at the outset of the day and has shared them with us.
Today marks the official National Day of Prayer. Republicans and Democrats across the nation will soon sit down to meetings and meals bookended with an opening and closing prayer. Certainly there is much to pray for: action on global climate change, fiscal responsibility, justice for immigrants, wisdom, humility, and peace.
Yet with the National Day of Prayer, we inevitably witness another festival: the debate between those demanding its end in the name of separation of church and state, and others who will complain that government is censoring prayers in the name of political correctness. Upon what might be a welcome bipartisan interlude, shrill voices intrude.
Having spent time studying religious freedom at Monticello’s International Center for Jefferson Studies, I inevitably come back to the following question: What would Jefferson do? How would he react to a National Day of Prayer mandated by Congress and proclaimed by the President?
Several years ago, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled the official Day of Prayer unconstitutional (before the case was thrown out for lack of standing). Judge Crabb was clear: the problem is not prayer, or even prayer by government officials; rather, the issue is government seeking to use prayer for political purposes, literally taking what is sacred and making it profane. Judge Crabb quoted the Supreme Court: “in the hands of government what might begin as a tolerant expression of religious views may end in a policy to indoctrinate and coerce.” This echoed James Madison’s admonition almost two hundred years earlier that official prayer proclamations “seem to imply and certainly nourish the erronious [sic] idea of a national religion.” It was for this reason that Jefferson emphatically rejected any “official,” government call to prayer. Not only did Jefferson see government prayer proclamations as unconstitutional, but he added: “I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it’s exercises . . . Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. . . . Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them . . . and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it.” Jefferson undoubtedly would join Judge Crabb in insisting that prayer should not be government-directed or sponsored. Jefferson’s concern for mixing government and religion was both political and theological. Politically, government support of religion threatened “tyranny over the mind,” a country led by “priestcraft.” Theologically, Jefferson would have agreed with eighteenth century evangelicals, equally committed to strict separation of church and state, who understood that even government encouragement interfered with a “free will offering” to God, a wholly-voluntary decision to believe and pray.
To stop there, though, is to miss an important part of Jefferson’s learning. In both of his inaugural addresses, Jefferson invoked divine guidance. Some, ignoring his emphatic declaration to the contrary, insist that Jefferson supported official prayer. Others accuse Jefferson of inconsistency, saying that prayer proclamations which he insisted were unconstitutional and his inaugural prayers were “indistinguishable.” Jefferson did not see it that way. An official proclamation of a day of prayer is a government act – subject to the constraints of the First Amendment; a private prayer, even when made by a public official in a public setting, is not. Madison made a similar point when he concluded that an official congressional chaplain was unconstitutional, but Members of Congress, acting in their private capacity, could certainly gather to pray: “If Religion consist in voluntary acts of individuals . . . and it be proper that public functionaries, as well as their Constituents should discharge their religious duties, let them like their Constituents, do so at their own expense.” What they should not seek is government endorsement or funding for their prayers.Thus, Christian ministers rightly object that government should not tell them to omit Jesus’ name from their prayers, but that is the result of being officially-sponsored. Eighteenth century evangelicals rejected government assistance for this reason, recognizing that it would be “the first link which Draws after it a chain of horrid consequences, and that by Degrees it will terminate in who shall preach, when they shall preach, where they shall preach, and what they shall preach.”
Jefferson was a prayerful man, but he rejected as both inappropriate and dangerous government intrusion into the sacred realm. So, what would Jefferson do? Paul advised to “pray ceaselessly,” but he certainly did not ask the government to sponsor his prayer meetings. Jefferson would agree.
Posted in History and Political Science, Press News, Rotunda
We have released three new digital editions of volumes from the Adams Papers project (sponsored by the Massachusetts Historical Society and published by Harvard University Press) in Rotunda’s Adams Papers Digital Edition. As for previously released volumes in the Adams Papers, we include the full textual content of the letterpress volumes and all graphics for which permission is available, and a hyperlinked version of the indexes for each volume.
New in this release, and added to all previous volumes of the Adams Papers Digital Edition, are mouseover expansions of all of the Adams family code abbreviations used in the edition (such as AA2 for Abigail Adams [1765–1813], daughter of John and Abigail).
Adams Family Correspondence, volume 8, drawing from nearly 250 letters, follows the Adams family from March 1787 to the close of 1789. The correspondence covered in this volume evokes a period of transition both for both the nation and the Adams family. John Adams made the transition from the first Minister to the Court of St. James to first Vice President of the United States under the new Constitution, after only a brief respite at their newly acquired farm in Quincy, which John Adams named Peacefield. Meanwhile, their daughter Nabby, married in 1786, gave birth to John and Abigail’s first grandchildren, and their sons, John Quincy, Charles, and Thomas Boylston, furthered their studies at Harvard and embarked on their own legal careers.
Volume 9 of the Adams Family Correspondence chronicles the early years of the American republic under the new Constitution with Vice President John Adams faithfully presiding over the Senate. Internationally, the United States faced diplomatic challenges as the outbreak of the French Revolution raised questions about the position and response the nation should take in regard to both France and Europe in general. On the domestic front, all of the Adams children completed their transition to adulthood, with the youngest son, Thomas Boylston, graduating from Harvard. The correspondence of the children, both among themselves and to their parents, takes center stage in this volume of nearly 300 letters spanning from January 1790 to December 1793 and reveals not only their sentiments on national and world events, but also the intimate details of family and farm.
The 350 letters of The Papers of John Adams, volume 14, explore the slow and difficult diplomatic conclusion to the American Revolutionary War from October 1782 to May 1783. Wary of France’s motives and desirous of establishing a fully independent way, John Adams and the American Peace Commissioners determined to strike a peace with Great Britain separate from France, but issues ranging from loyalists to fishing rights slowed progress. Meanwhile, Adams continued his role as minister to the Netherlands overseeing the distribution of funds of the Dutch-American loan, followed fifteen-year-old John Quincy’s long journey from St. Petersburg to The Hague, and took a keen interest in how best to write an accurate history of the American Revolution. As always, Adams’s letters reveal a wealth of insight into not only the history of the period but his own thought processes.
(UVA Press wishes to thank Sara Sikes of the Adams Papers, and her staff, for assistance with proofreading of the digital volumes.)
Posted in History and Political Science, Press News, Rotunda, Virginiana
Our Dolley Madison Digital Edition, edited by Holly C. Shulman, has been updated with 300 new documents, 360 additional identifications of people, places, and terms, and six new editorial essays exploring aspects of Dolley’s life during her widowhood in the 1840s.
This latest installment of the DMDE takes the reader through 1844 and the sale of Montpelier, the Madisons’ estate in Orange County, Virginia. In 1844 Dolley finally realized that her debts (and those of her son, John Payne Todd) had become too great for her to continue running the property; her only choice was to sell. This she did to a Richmond merchant with local family connections, Henry Wood Moncure. After 1844 Dolley would never again return to Virginia. As of this installment the reader has now twenty editorial essays on topics ranging from the enslaved community at Montpelier to the nineteenth-century “autographomania” that led collectors to seek out James and Dolley Madison’s signatures. Among the new biographical identifications are entries on nearly twenty members of the Montpelier slave community. Also new are three high-resolution images of Montpelier survey plats from the Orange County Courthouse that accompany an editorial essay by Ann L. Miller.
The images in the gallery below are scans of plats based on surveys in preparation for the sale of the Montpelier estate. The largest plat, covering two pages, includes the entire plantation and immediate surroundings.
Forthcoming installments of the DMDE
Posted in Literary and Cultural Studies, Press News
When we published a new translation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé last year, we celebrated with a live reading of the play that was covered by CNN. Joseph Donohue’s translation is now being staged at Villanova University, where it has received raves, one of which you may read online here.
Posted in Featured, History and Political Science
jackie With the release this week of the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, we asked Bruce Adelson to contribute a few comments. Adelson’s Brushing Back Jim Crow: The Integration of Minor League Baseball in the American South documented many of the challenges that African American ball players faced, and overcame, in a society still practicing racial segregation.
The debut of the new movie 42 reminds us of a time when America was segregated, riven by racial differences, stereotypes, and violence. In 1947, the Brooklyn Dodgers placed Jackie Robinson front and center for our country to debate a bold new step in race relations. His color-barrier-shattering achievements reached far beyond the baseball fields of New York, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. Robinson’s efforts opened a new chapter for Americans, bringing us closer to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. later described as “the beloved community,” a community where integration and tolerance were the watchwords.
Jackie Robinson may have ended Major League Baseball’s color barrier, but in baseball’s minor-league towns throughout the South, both the law and rigid customs barred black men and white men from playing America’s national pastime together. And yet it was here—in places like Danville, Virginia, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Savannah, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama—that the next stage of America’s integration was to play out, in the years following Robinson’s ascendency.
“I tend to refer to us as Jackie’s disciples,” explained former big leaguer Ed Charles in Brushing Back Jim Crow. “We spent years and years trying to make breakthroughs down in the South. We were carrying his torch a little further. We all tried to emulate Jackie. All the guys patterned themselves after Jackie. They may have gotten to the point where they wanted to quit and they just thought about Jackie. I know I did.”
Ed Charles weathered many storms during his professional baseball tutelage in the South’s minor leagues where he played eight years in places like Corpus Christi, Louisville, and Jacksonville. Charles was often the first black man whom people had ever seen playing baseball on the same field with white ballplayers. Charles and his compatriots endured segregation, racial taunts, and almost ceaseless racial hostility, all while trying to learn their baseball crafts and follow in Jackie Robinson’s footsteps to the Major Leagues.
A teenaged Henry Aaron broke the color line in Jacksonville, Florida. Growing up in Mobile, Alabama, Aaron was well-acquainted with the Jim Crow South. He understood what he must endure on the ballfields of Charleston, Savannah, and Columbia, South Carolina, while a visiting player for Jacksonville. Aaron, like so many of his fellow line breakers, used the racial invective and segregation he experienced and turned it around, like hitting a high fastball and sending it screaming into the bleachers.
“Believe it or not,” Aaron explained in his interview for Brushing Back Jim Crow, “at night, you laugh about it. That’s one thing that made you go out the next day and say, ‘I can’t believe that people are this ignorant.’ And go out and do better. It was a motivator.”
Aaron’s is only one of the remarkable stories from this dramatic time in sports history. Brushing Back Jim Crow also recounts the successes and disappointments of such greats as Billy Williams, Felipe Alou, Chuck Harmon, Nat Peeples, Al Israel, Willie Tasby, Ed Charles, Don Buford.
As we enjoy 42 and celebrate Jackie Robinson’s achievements, let us also tip our caps to Jackie’s disciples, the men who broke the color barrier down South. As Congressman John Lewis explains in Brushing Back Jim Crow, baseball integration “helped to open and liberate people from stereotypes and attitudes. It broke down walls. It ended those feelings that somehow people could not be together. It had a profound effect on southerners. It was more than race relations. It was just pure human relations.”