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Old World, New World

Old World, New World: America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Old World, New World
    Book Description:

    Old World, New World: America and Europe in the Age of Jeffersongrew out of workshops in Salzburg and Charlottesville sponsored by Monticello's International Center for Jefferson Studies, and revisits a question of long-standing interest to American historians: the nature of the relationship between America and Europe during the Age of Revolution. Study of the American-European relationship in recent years has been moved forward by the notion of Atlantic history and the study of the Atlantic world. The present volume makes a fresh contribution by refocusing attention on the question of the interdependence of Europe and America.

    Old World, New Worldaddresses topics that are timely, given contemporary public events, but that are also of interest to early modern and modern historians. By turning attention from the Atlantic World in general to the relationship between America and Europe, as well as using Thomas Jefferson as a lens to examine this relationship, this book carves out its own niche in the history of the Atlantic world in the age of revolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-2852-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Throughout his career Thomas Jefferson imagined an impassable boundary between Europe and America, Old World and New. To avoid the “broils of the European nations,” he wrote to Elbridge Gerry in 1797, he wished “there were an ocean of fire between us and the old world.”¹ As the new nation teetered on the brink of war with Britain in 1812, he again hoped to insulate it from European entanglements: “The meridian of the mid-Atlantic should be the line of demarkation between war and peace.”²

    Jefferson understood that the two “worlds” could never be separated, and his imaginary boundaries implicitly acknowledged...

  6. Environmental Hazards, Eighteenth-Century Style
    (pp. 15-31)

    We today think we have problems with our environment. Our worries seem endless. We are anxious about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions; the effect of aerosol sprays on the ozone layer; hazardous wastes in our water supplies; and toxic substances in our foods. But compared with the environmental problems faced by our nation at the very beginning of its history, our present difficulties and anxieties do not seem all that over-whelming. At least we now have the Environmental Protection Agency to look after us. Americans living in the republic at the end of the eighteenth century had no such...

  7. Decadents Abroad: Reconstructing the Typical Colonial American in London in the Late Colonial Period
    (pp. 32-60)

    The figure of the alienated American colonist in London on the eve of independence has become a historian’s stereotype. Whether the subject is political radicals immersed in the unreal hothouse of City politics, southern planters who felt socially discounted, or pretty much any colonist scandalized by the swirling cauldron of political and cultural corruption that was the empire’s capital, the analytical framework of “alienated provincial” is a well-established one. Even Benjamin Franklin, whose love of London is well known, admittedly remained at the margins of its society, unable to gain acceptance in its best circles.

    From our vantage point, it...

  8. “Citizens of the World”: Men, Women, and Country in the Age of Revolution
    (pp. 61-82)

    “Fromexperience,” declaimed Betsey Galloway with all the world-weariness of youth in a 1779 letter to her mother, “I have formed such an opinion of Mankind that I wish for little society. Where ever I could get the most to live on with you, there I would go whether at Nova Zembla or Otaheite. . . . I shall never feel myselfat homewithout you.”¹ Invoking two places meant to convey the farthest ends of the earth, the arctic island of Nova Zembla and the Tahitian islands recently reached by the British in the Pacific, Betsey, living in London...

  9. Reimagining the British Empire and America in an Age of Revolution: The Case of William Eden
    (pp. 83-104)

    The early weeks of September 1778 found Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, safely within the City of New York—one of the few North American cities that still professed loyalty to his king and country—contemplating the causes and implications of months of failed diplomacy. The head of a commission sanctioned by King George III, Carlisle, along with his fellow commissioners William Eden and George Johnstone, had spent the summer of 1778 traveling through the colonies of the mid-Atlantic seaboard seeking to engage the Continental Congress in negotiations that they hoped would end the now three-year-old American Revolutionary War. Although...

  10. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and the Dutch Patriots
    (pp. 105-130)

    In September 1787 King Frederick William II of Prussia ordered twenty thousand troops to march upon the Netherlands. He justified the invasion as an attempt to avenge an insult allegedly committed against his sister, Princess Wilhelmina, wife of Prince William V of the House of Orange. William V was stadtholder of the Netherlands, a hereditary office that traditionally established its occupant as the executive authority in the country.

    In the spring and summer of 1787 the long-standing dispute over the issue of sovereignty in the republic and, more specifically, the stadtholder’s constitutional powers had reached such intensity that the Netherlands...

  11. John Adams in Europe: A Provincial Cosmopolitan Confronts the Metropolitan World, 1778–1788
    (pp. 131-154)

    For John Adams scholars, as well as many historians of American culture, the passage quoted above is among the most celebrated of all Adams’s declamations. One of its most striking features is its highly accurate prediction of the history of the Adams family, and to a lesser extent of America as a whole, over the next century and beyond. But in its immediate context the words project a different image: Adams’s determination, under the cover of a sincere appeal to the demands of his current diplomatic obligations, to deny himself an intimate acquaintance with the Europe in which he had...

  12. “Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe”: Thomas Jefferson and the Creation of an American Image Abroad
    (pp. 155-178)

    After a year in Paris Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend in his native Virginia, “Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe!” “But you are perhaps curious to know,” he continued,” how this new scene has struck a savage of the mountains of America.” This letter of September 30, 1785, to Charles Bellini, which Jefferson listed in his epistolary journal as “My view of Europe,” epitomized Jefferson’s ambivalent response to the Europe he was experiencing for the first time. He began answering the question he posed with a negative reply. The “new scene” was inferior to the...

  13. Negotiating Gifts: Jefferson’s Diplomatic Presents
    (pp. 179-199)

    In 1791 Thomas Jefferson accepted a gift from Louis XVI, a miniature portrait of the king set in “brilliants,” marking the end of his tenure as the U.S. minister to France. What might seem a banal, even innocuous ceremonial gesture preoccupied Jefferson, who at first refused to accept the gift. His own distaste for this aspect of diplomatic culture was in step with a clause in the U.S. Constitution prohibiting representatives of the federal government from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or Foreign State.”¹ Furthermore, Jefferson’s service in France coincided...

  14. Better Tools for a New and Better World: Jefferson Perfects the Plow
    (pp. 200-222)

    In the spring of 1788 an elegant carriage bounced along the post roads of eastern France. The American minister to the court of Louis XVI, returning from a tour up the Rhine River, gazed from its window at a group of peasants working in a field. Traveling always stimulated Thomas Jefferson to engage in comparisons, and this sight of oxen, plows, and working women provoked a remarkable confluence of philosophical and mathematical reflections—on society and contrasting states of civilization, on soil preparation and Newtonian geometry. He entered his musings on the role of women into his travel journal, directly...

  15. The End of a Beautiful Friendship: Americans in Paris and Public Diplomacy during the War Scare of 1798–1799
    (pp. 223-246)

    Even by the standards of the early twenty-first century the year 1798 marked a low point in Franco-American relations. Diplomatic negotiations between the two republics broke down completely amidst mutual recriminations and were replaced by undeclared warfare on the high seas. Since the ratification of Jay’s Treaty and the recall of American minister to France James Monroe in 1796, hundreds of American ships had been captured by French privateers in the Caribbean or confiscated in French ports. The French executive body, the five-man Directory, had refused to receive Monroe’s successor, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

    At the same time, there were more...

  16. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte: A Woman between Two Worlds
    (pp. 247-276)

    The decades after 1800 were a period of uncertainty and anxiety. “Fourmemorable evils” still threatened the “unexampledfreedom” of the republic, warned Thomas Ritchie, the editor of the RichmondEnquirer,in 1806: “war,” “party spirit,” disunion, and “luxury.”¹ Each of these “evils” appeared at one time or another in the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Scholars have fully examined the divisions of the first party system and the diplomatic challenges that culminated in the War of 1812. And they have recently turned more serious attention to the fears of disunion.² But they have had very little to...

  17. List of Contributors
    (pp. 277-280)
  18. Index
    (pp. 281-287)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-289)