The worst moment of Election Day violence in American history

It happened 100 years ago today in Ocoee, Florida. Here is Gillian Brockell at The Washington Post:

There are at least 129 accounts of what happened that day in Ocoee, and they vary wildly.

Some said the attack was a spur-of-the-moment reaction to a Black man trying to vote. Others said it had been carefully planned by White residents for weeks. Only a few Black folks were killed that day; or, dozens of bodies were piled into a mass grave. Every Black resident who survived fled the day after; or, survivors were harassed, threatened and cheated out of land for the next seven years until they all left.

This is what is certain: 100 years ago, on Nov. 2, 1920 — the same day women voted nationally for the first time — the worst instance of Election Day violence in American history unfolded in a small Florida town west of Orlando.

And the perpetrators got away with what they did for the rest of their lives. There are no roadside markers in Ocoee as you might find in Selma, Ala., no excavation projects to locate the purported mass grave as in Tulsa. Until recently, many descendants of survivors had no idea they were descendants of survivors or that they had been robbed of a valuable inheritance long before they were born.

Now, after years of research, a new exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando has unearthed a crime long buried.

Read the rest here.

Lara Trump and the court evangelicals try to win voters in Florida

Last night Lara Trump, the wife of Donald Trump’s son Eric, spoke to an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally in Pensacola, Florida. The event was followed by a “town hall event” that included court evangelicals Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, Tony Suarez, and Ralph Reed.

Does anyone think people who come to an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally are undecided?

Sadly, Lara Trump’s recent performance on Jake Tapper’s show “State of the Union” (CNN) reveals just the kind of stuff Trump evangelicals are willing to cheer:

Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida Cuts the Positions of 34 Professors

SoutheasternIt’s happening.

Small colleges, many of them Christian colleges, are making significant cuts in order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. Southeastern University is the largest Assembly of God educational institution in the United States. According to the school’s Wikipedia page, the school has 7,000 students.

Here is Southeastern theology professor Chris Green:

And here is a local news story:

LAKELAND — Southeastern University is cutting the positions of 34 professors as it prepares for the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The positions stretch across academic departments, SEU spokeswoman Dana Davis said Tuesday.

The university’s administration posted an update Monday describing steps the school is taking to address the expected financial toll of the pandemic and resulting restrictions.

“This undoubtedly will be the most difficult challenge in the history of our university, but make no mistake, we will adjust … we will adapt … and we will innovate so that we continue to equip students to discover their purpose and place in this world,” the statement said.

Davis said nearly all of the cuts will affect locally based faculty. Southeastern also operates about 150 extension sites around the world.

“They’re beloved members of our community, and it’s very, very difficult,” Davis said. “The whole community’s kind of mourning just the impact for these faculty members.”

Read the rest here.

 

Trump’s Choice of Church for His “Evangelicals for Trump” Rally Today

King JesusAs we have discussed a few times already here at the blog, Trump will be speaking at a big “Evangelicals for Trump” rally later today in Miami. The event will take place at the King Jesus Ministry Church,  evangelical megachurch.  A few things are worth noting about this church:

  • The King Jesus Ministry Church fits squarely within the Prosperity Gospel branch of American Christianity.  These Christians teach God always blessing his faithful followers with financial wealth and physical health.  Trump staffer and prominent court evangelical Paula White, the woman who claims she led Trump through a born-again experience, is the most important pro-Trump player in this movement.  As I chronicled in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, the president’s support among the prosperity gospelers is strong.  The pastor, Guillermo Maldonado, is from Honduras.  He calls himself “The Apostle.”  His wife, Ana Maldonado, is known as “The Prophetess.” Together, they run the University of the Supernatural Ministry,
  • The King Jesus Ministry Church is also a Hispanic evangelical megachurch.  Many members of the congregation are undocumented immigrants, or, to use the language of the court evangelicals, “illegals.”  Most of the evangelical leaders who will attend this event believe these undocumented workers need to be deported.  Donald Trump also believes that they should be deported.  Many of those in attendance at today’s rally cannot even vote.  As we have already seen, some of these church members fear that if they come to the rally they will be deported.  So let’s remember that two of Trump’s signature issues–the courting of evangelicals and immigration–will be at odds tonight.  (Some of you may recall Paula White’s attempt to use Romans 13 to justify the separation of children from their families at the Mexican border).
  • I don’t know how the program will unfold, but if the rally looks anything like a Pentecostal church service there is bound to be some awkwardness.  Many of the court evangelicals–including Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas–have serious theological disagreements with Pentecostal theology and worship.  And, of course, Trump never looks comfortable in these settings. Let’s see how this unfolds.
  • An atheist group is not happy about this event.  This group wants the IRS to commence an immediate investigation into King Jesus Ministry for violating the clause in the tax code prohibiting 501(c)(3) organizations from participating in and/or intervening in a political campaign.  It certainly seems like this group has a point.  If Pastor Maldonado is promoting Trump from the pulpit and using his authority to urge his people to attend a political rally at the church he may be in violation of the so-called Johnson Amendment.  Trump and many of his evangelical supports think that the president brought an end to the Johnson Amendment through executive order in May 2017 (Maldonado was present for the event).  This is not true.  The clause forbidding churches (and other organizations with tax exempt status) from endorsing political candidates is still on the books.  It can only be changed by Congress.  I can’t think of a more blatant violation of the Johnson Amendment than a pastor urging his congregation to attend a political rally.  I doubt anything will come of this, but it is worth noting.

For more on what to expect tonight, check out my posts here and here.  I will be on NBC News Now (live stream) with Alison Morris around 3:15pm tomorrow (January 3rd) to talk about the rally.

Why a Florida County Public Library Will Not Be Subscribing to *The New York Times*

citrus-location-map-dark.jpg

The librarians of Citrus County, Florida wanted to buy a digital subscription to The New York Times, but the country commission will not let them do it because, as everyone knows, The New York Times is “fake news.”  Yes, this is a true story.  Here is a taste of Antonia Noori Farzan’s reporting at The Washington Post:

The librarians of Citrus County, Fla., had what seemed like a modest wish: A digital subscription to the New York Times. For about $2,700 annually, they reasoned, they could offer their roughly 70,000 patrons an easy way to research and catch up on the news.

But when their request came before the Citrus County commission last month, local officials literally laughed out loud. One commissioner, Scott Carnahan, declared the paper to be “fake news.”

“I agree with President Trump,” he said. “I will not be voting for this. I don’t want the New York Times in this county.”

In a move that is generating intense online backlash, all five members of the commission agreed to reject the library’s request. The discussion took place Oct. 24, the same day the Trump administration announced plans to cancel federal agencies’ subscriptions to the Times and The Washington Post. While there’s no apparent connection — the Citrus County meeting began several hours before the Wall Street Journal broke the news of the new edict — the controversy unfolding in central Florida highlights how politicians nationwide are parroting the president’s disparaging rhetoric about the media.

Read the rest here.  I realize that Citrus County, Florida is a very conservative place, but what do these county commissioners have to fear?

The *Orlando Sentinel* on Court Evangelical Paula White

donald-trump-and-pastor-paula-white

The editorial board chides the court evangelical for “weaponizing faith for politics.”  Here is a taste of the editorial:

We’re particularly appalled — though not surprised — by Paula White.

Not because she’s a conservative but because of her naked use of religion as a weapon. She’s trying to frighten believers with apocalyptic consequences if they don’t get in line behind this president.

Unfortunately, the national attention on these self-promoting evangelical opportunists risks overshadowing the selfless work of Christian churches and missions that help people who are hungry, poor, sick and homeless.

Here in Central Florida, groups like the Catholic Charities, the Christian Service Center and IDignity better represent the Christian faith tradition.

Read the entire editorial here.

The Slave Societies Digital Archive

Slave Ship

Over at The Conversation, Vanderbilt historian Jane Landers writes about her work on the Slave Societies Digital Archive.  Here is a taste:

This archive, which I launched in 2003, now holds approximately 600,000 images dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Since its creation, the archive has led to new insights into African populations in the Americas.

The Slave Societies Digital Archive documents the lives of approximately 6 million free and enslaved Africans, their descendants, and the indigenous, European and Asian people with whom they interacted.

When searching for and preserving archives, our researchers must race against time. These fast-vanishing records are threatened daily by tropical humidity, hurricanes, political instability and neglect.

The work is usually challenging and sometimes risky. Our equipment has been stolen in several locations. Soon after we left the remote community of Quibdó, Colombia, a gun battle erupted in the surrounding jungles between the government military forces and Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, better known as FARC. It’s no wonder that one of our team members called what we do “guerrilla preservation.”

This hard work has allowed us to discover more about the lives of slaves in the Americas. For example, the Catholic Church mandated the baptism of enslaved Africans in the 15th century. The baptismal records now preserved in the Slave Societies Digital Archive are the oldest and most uniform serial data available for African-American history.

Read the rest here.

Why Did So Many Hispanics in Florida Pull the Lever for DeSantis Instead of Gillum?

Governors race

The pundits seemed baffled by the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race between Rep. Rick DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum (D).  Here is a taste of an article at the Atlanta Black Star:

Initial Election Day results showed that a significant chunk of Latino men and women voted in favor of DeSantis, who once cautioned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by electing Gillum as their next governor. According to the numbers, 46 percent of Hispanic men voted for the GOP candidate while 38 percent of women did the same.

Social media critics couldn’t help but notice the trend, and were left scratching their heads over how Latinos could vote for someone who’s backed President Donald Trump‘s tough stance on immigration.

“At some point we need to have a frank and non-judgmental conversation about these Hispanic numbers,” Twitter user @chukroxx opined. “I don’t understand them … And, emotionally, it mid-key stings. What’s happening here y’all?”

“I’m truly just tryna comprehend,” he continued. What about the republican platform is so inviting? Especially considering their immigration stances? Why wasn’t the racism Desantis off putting?”

Radio host Ebro Darden offered this explanation: “Some Latinos are white and even racist against Black & Brown. Many are evangelicals … just cause someone makes seasoned food and is stereotyped by the oppressor as murderous and criminal does not mean they don’t wanna be just like their oppressor.”

Other Twitter users chimed with their own ideas, pointing out some Latino’s allegiance to America prompts them to vote red.

I don’t know much about the Latino electorate in Florida, but I wonder if they voted for DeSantis because he is pro-life on abortion.  Many Latinos are evangelicals who take traditional positions on social and cultural issues.  Perhaps they placed their moral commitments over identity politics.  Just a thought.  Perhaps someone who knows more about this subject might be able to offer some insight.

It seems like the same argument could be made in other gubernatorial races as well.

Chris King: “the case study of whether faith is a deal killer in the modern Democratic Party.”

Gillum and King

Andrew Gillum, the African-American progressive mayor of Tallahassee who recently became the Democratic nominee in the upcoming Florida gubernatorial race, has chosen a running mate.  His name is Chris King.  He is a thirty-eight-year-old white evangelical Christian who was raised in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, was active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in high school, joined Campus Crusade for Christ at Harvard, and once worked with progressive evangelical Jim Wallis.  He is currently an elder at the non-denominational Summit Church in Orlando.

Over at The New Republic, Mark Pinsky and Loraine O’Connell report on Gillum’s choice of King.  Here is a taste:

Chris King wasn’t the person most Florida liberals expected Andrew Gillum to name as his running mate in the state’s gubernatorial race. A white, evangelical Christian who made a fortune buying up dilapidated Florida apartment complexes after the 2008 crash and refurbishing them as affordable housing, the Winter Park businessman had run against Gillum in the Democratic gubernatorial primary earlier this summer—and lost spectacularly, finishing fifth in the primary, with less than 3 percent of the vote.

His religion might have had something to do with his loss. King has called himself “the case study of whether faith is a deal killer in the modern Democratic Party.” But Florida, like many states, has a highly secular Democratic base that dominates the primaries. With the evangelical community nationally so firmly aligned behind the conservative right, the mere fact that King, who had never run for office before, was an evangelical, and a proud one at that, may have hindered his chances.

Evangelicalism might have held King back in the Democratic primary, but in a statewide general election, his ties to the Christian community could be an asset, and Gillum’s decisions of late suggest he understands that. Gillum himself is Baptist, and in August he spoke to supporters outside the Bethel Church in Richmond Heights, the South Dade neighborhood where he grew up. Apart from than his numerous visits to African American churches and appearances with black preachers, Gillum did not explicitly raise religion, nor, for the most part, did his opponents or interviewers. Still, his choice for lieutenant governor suggests that he will lean into it in his quest to win the governorship.

Since Gillum named him his running mate, King has insisted that “this is not a political marriage—this is not a marriage of convenience.” Regardless, it makes strategic sense. Barack Obama carried Florida with help from the young white evangelicals in the state. They may not be the voters who decide the primaries, but they are an important and often overlooked demographic in general elections within Florida and throughout the South. With King on the ticket, Gillum can craft a campaign message that mixes evangelicalism and left policies—a powerful combination that could provide a path forward for Democrats looking to win back seats in the Sun Belt.

Read the rest here.

Don’t Forget About Episode 27: “From Mount Vernon to Mar-a-Lago”

MugWe dropped it on Sunday:

Here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, we have traveled to both Mount Vernon and Monticello in our explorations of presidential history. Today, we explore a much more recent addition to the world of presidential real estate, Mar-a-Lago. While host John Fea explores the history of presidential vacations, guest Julian Chambliss (@JulianChambliss), historian and author of the Boston Review article “Draining the Swamp,” dives deeper into Mar-a-Lago as a lens for understanding Florida’s unique history, the disproportionate effects of climate change, and the origin of Trump’s unique and at times inscrutable blend of everyman populism and billionaire branding.

Listen at your favorite pod-catcher or at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.

Do you like the mug in the picture above?  Learn how to get one here.

The Meaning of Trump’s “Winter White House” in the Wake of Irma

West_PB_FL_Mar_A_Lago_entr01

Rollins College historian Julian Chambliss puts Mar-a-Lago in some historical context.  He argues that the winter White House is part of a “Florida dream” that is unsustainable.

Here is a taste of Chambliss piece at Boston Review:

Donald Trump calls his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, his “winter White House.” This proclamation has been met with derision as well as outrage about the security costs and conflict of interest. But the sheer hucksterism that has defined Trump’s ownership—buying the once federally owned estate, overcoming local objections by turning it into an exclusive club, and finally using it, in name only, as a public institution—should also interest us. Often casting himself as an aggrieved party fighting entrenched interests in Palm Beach, Trump’s battles there offer a funhouse-mirror version of the common man’s struggle against elites. Presented in the rarified air of Palm Beach, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago travails foreshadowed his current political narrative.

Moreover, Trump’s relationship to Mar-a-Lago and his pursuit of victory there at all costs reveal a regressive vision of community, one that resonates deeply with Florida’s history. For almost 150 years, wealthy outsiders have fought an anemic state over who gets to enjoy paradise. Aggressive development opened up Florida for millions of ordinary Americans, but in the absence of an effective state, wealthy interests have hollowed out prospects for working people, degraded the environment, and made the consumption of Florida a rich man’s game. Mar-a-Lago reflects the legacy of Florida’s past. Given the newly established winter White House, this legacy now belongs to all of us.

Now, with Hurricane Irma’s aftermath certain to shape the state for years to come, the reality of policy inaction and the cost to individuals and communities is clear. Even as Republicans at the national and state level are quick to promise relief, they are equally committed to not talking about the excesses that cause it. As one scientist explained to the New York Times, “We know that as humans, we are all too good at pretending like a risk, even one we know is real, doesn’t matter to us.” In Florida, that natural human tendency has been enhanced by Republican governors who so persistently avoid mentioning the words “climate change” that scientists even “self-censor” their work. Yet, Florida is testament to a reality that cannot be ignored. Even as the state pulls itself together, the uncertain future must contend with a pattern of denial and a history of consumption that many are eager to maintain. Mar-a-Lago reflects this legacy of Florida’s past. Indeed, while the newly established “Southern White House” will no doubt be fine this time, we should care about what Florida’s legacies mean for all of us.

Read the rest here.

The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast Mug in Post-Irma Florida

Mug in Florida

I am glad to learn from Nicole, a The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast patron suffering through the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, that our coffee mug is helping her get through the day.

Nicole writes:

The generator is running the well pump, but it also managed the coffee maker this morning. Lots of good old fashioned manual labor here on the homestead, no electricity in the house, and everyone had been rightfully obsessed with the weather forecast. The storm also destroyed more than half the fall citrus crop. [Philip Vickers] Fithian came to mind between tree limbs and checking on neighbors. 

Hang in their Nicole!  Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

Do you want a mug like Nicole’s?  Here is what we suggest:

  1. Make a donation to a charity or relief organization helping the victims of Harvey and Irma
  2. If you have any money left over,  consider giving it to another charity or relief organization dealing with the wake of the Harvey and Irma hurricanes.
  3.  If you still have a few dollars left, and want to use it to promote responsible history podcasting in a time of great social and political change, feel free to head over to our Patreon page and make a pledge.  Thanks.

The Author’s Corner With Laurel Shire

ShireLaurel Clark Shire teaches history at Western University in London, Ontario.  This interview is based on her new book, The Threshold of Manifest Destiny: Gender and National Expansion in Florida  ( University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)

JF: What led you to write The Threshold of Manifest Destiny?

LS: I knew that I wanted to write about women and US imperialism in the 19th century. I was deeply influenced by scholars such as Amy Kaplan, Kristin Hoganson, and Laura Wexler, and I wanted to test some of the ideas about gender and U.S. expansion coming out of literary and visual studies using the tools of social and political history. I began to look at different contexts in which I might do that. I discovered Florida, an early 19th century frontier, had been remarkably underexplored by historians of Manifest Destiny and of women and gender. I also had friends and family I could stay with in Florida, and their generosity made the research possible on a grad student budget.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of The Threshold of Manifest Destiny?

LS: American political leaders leveraged gender norms – not only masculinity but also femininityin order to Americanize Florida, setting a precedent for U.S. policy in many subsequent frontier zones further West. They used white women’s presence in Florida to justify violence against Seminole peoples and to rationalize generous social policies for white settler families, many of them slaveholders. At the same time, they relied on white women’s material, domestic and reproductive labor to create homes and families there; the building blocks of permanent colonial settlement. In short, white women were indispensable to the process of settling Florida for the U.S., a process that displaced both Indigenous people and enslaved people of African descent.

JF: Why do we need to read The Threshold of Manifest Destiny?

LS: Gender history continues to be treated as a separate and ancillary subfield in a lot of American history, especially in political, military, and diplomatic history, even though very good historians have been making what was once a “hidden” history available to us for more than 40 years. My hope is that readers outside of women’s and gender history will read this book and will understand it as a model for how we might begin to integrate intersectional social history (history that accounts for how social categories of gender, race, class, and sexuality work together in significant, historically contingent ways) into general historical accounts of the American past. This book tries to marry cultural history to policy history, and I hope it’s successful and occasionally even entertaining.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

LS: I never decided to become an American historian! I decided to get a Ph.D. in American Studies because I wanted the freedom to do interdisciplinary work in American cultural studies. Frankly, I was concerned that a History department would be too conservative for the kind of history I wanted to write. As a pragmatist and a materialist, though, I’ve never had much patience for theory that doesn’t prove itself useful “on the ground,” so my work ends up being deeply historically grounded. I fell in love with the 1830s and 1840s in a 19th-century American Studies seminar with Terry Murphy at GWU and wanted to write about that period. I assumed that when I hit the job market I would be a candidate for a job in American Studies or Women’s Studies, but then the market sorted me into history – in my first year on the job market, I only got interview invitations from History departments, and I ended up accepting a position in one. No one was more surprised than me. And then I learned that I really loved teaching U.S. history using American Studies tools.

JF: What is your next project?

LS: The next book is about women and migration in the 19th century. The work in Florida brought me into contact with many different kinds of migrants in the 19th century, but did not allow me to follow those who exited Florida, about whom I remain curious. I am broadly interested in how imperial and national borders shaped the lives of women in North America and the Caribbean, and also in how women’s experiences of race (privilege, enslavement, and displacement) or gender (subordination, widowhood, motherhood) may have transcended territorial limits, or served to expand or penetrate borders. In many ways, their diversity challenges and even explodes the very category of “woman” and reveals how the intersections of gender, race, nation, and borders continually remade social categories and opportunities. This project is shaping up to be a combination of microhistorical biography and macrohistorical context using digital methods in mapping and text analysis.

JF: Thanks, Laurel!

The Author’s Corner with Lyn Millner

Lyn Millner is Associate Professor of Journalism at Florida Gulf Coast University. This interview is based on her new book, The Allure of Immortality: An American Cult, a Florida Swamp, and a Renegade Prophet (University Press of Florida, 2015).

JF: What led you to write The Allure of Immortality?

LM: I was looking for a magazine story idea, and there was this little-known historic settlement down the road from me. The Koreshans formed a utopian society around the belief that they could achieve immortality. They followed a man who believed he was a messiah, they practiced celibacy, and they believed that we live inside the earth.

I figured I’d research and write a 2,000-word piece and then move on to my next project. But it didn’t work that way. The Koreshans wouldn’t let me go. What haunted me was the question of why a group of people would give up everything to follow a man into a mosquito-infested forest to build a city. It seemed crazy to me, but the more I researched it, the less crazy they seemed. We all know someone who has made a radical change that puzzles us, but we rarely explore why. The more I followed my curiosity about them, it became apparent that in 2,000 words, I wouldn’t get beyond “Gee, aren’t they kooky?” I saw that they deserved their own book.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of The Allure of Immortality?

LM: This story shows how unshakable belief can be, even when it runs counter to reality. Even when fact bleeds through, belief has the power to triumph.

JF: Why do we need to read The Allure of Immortality?

LM: There are people we would like to dismiss as crazy because it’s convenient for us not to explore our own beliefs and contradictions. The Koreshans, kooky as they seem, wanted what we all want. To live somewhere beautiful away from pollution and crime, to eat healthy food, to have more time to play, to raise our children the way we see fit, to have answers. To transcend. That’s hard to turn away from.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

LM: When I read Erik Larson’s “Devil in the White City.” I’m a reader and writer first, but it just so happens that history is what I most like to research and write about. My favorite books to read are nonfiction narratives, and I’m inspired to write history in a way that’s readable—using character, scene and dialog. That’s my formal training.

JF: What is your next project?

LM: I’m still pondering that.

JF: Thanks, Lyn! 

The Author’s Corner with David Narrett

David Narrett is Professor of History at University of Texas Arlington. This interview is based on his new book, Adventurism and Empire: The Struggle for Mastery in the Louisiana-Florida Borderlands, 1762-1803 (The University of North Carolina Press, December 2014).
JF: What led you to write Adventurism and Empire?

DN: I wrote Adventurism and Empire because of my fascination with colonial adventurism as a phenomenon involving commerce, settlement schemes, and military freebooting across national boundaries. I also realized that there was a need for a detailed and systematic study tracing the transition from British-Spanish rivalry to U.S.-Spanish competition in Louisiana and “the Floridas” during the late eighteenth century.

JF: In two sentences, what is the argument of Adventurism and Empire?

DN: Louisiana and Florida were borderland regions characterized by a high degree of geopolitical instability, personal adventurism, and intrigue from the denouement of the Seven Years War through the Louisiana Purchase. British-Spanish rivalry, both before and during the American Revolution, had a profound impact on subsequent U.S.-Spanish competition. Diverse nationalities vied over the control of rivers and pathways linking coastal to interior zones. Southern Indians sought trade goods through Pensacola and Mobile no less avidly than U.S. frontier folk clamored for free navigation on the Mississippi and access to the New Orleans market. Power struggles emerged in which commerce and immigration were as important determinants as war and violence.

JF: Why do we need to read Adventurism and Empire?

DN: Adventurism and Empire shows how the United States emerged as a successor empire to Great Britain through rivalry with Spain in the Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast. Adventurism and Empire charts events in peace and war over four critical decades–from the close of the Seven Years War through the Louisiana Purchase. The story sheds new light on individual colonial adventurers and schemers who shaped history through cross-border trade, settlement projects involving slave and free labor, and military incursions into Spanish and Indian territories.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

DN: I decided to become an American historian through my undergraduate studies at Columbia University, and through a deeply felt personal connection to our national past. While pursuing my Ph.D. at Cornell University, I was inspired by the late Michael Kammen, one of the foremost American historians of the last half-century.

JF: What is your next project?

DN: My next project is a study of frontier republicanism and settler-Native conflict in the trans-Appalachian West during the late eighteenth century.

JF: Thanks David.
And thanks to Megan Piette for facilitating this installment of The Author’s Corner

Photo of the Day

I hope Devin Manzullo-Thomas does not mind me stealing this photo from his blog The Search for Piety and Obedience.  (It actually comes from the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives at Messiah College).


This is the Orlando Brethren in Christ Church in Orlando, Florida.  The picture was taken in the early 1950s. I am having a hard time processing this photo.  I realize my understanding of the reach of the Brethren in Christ Church (the founding denomination of Messiah College) in the 1950s is probably limited, but there is something about Orlando palm trees and this Anabaptist-oriented denomination that does not seem to fit.

Check out Manzullo-Thomas’s post on the connection between this church and educational reformer Ernest Boyer.  Here is a taste:

…Boyer’s brief term of missionary service captures a unique period in the history of the Brethren in Christ. Boyer’s generation transformed the church community in significant ways. Only a few months before the Boyers’ move to Florida, a handful of Boyer’s contemporaries (and some from an older generation) attended a National Association of Evangelicals convention that proved ground-breaking for the denomination, and brought their changed perspectives back to their struggling denomination. Leaders of Boyer’s generation would invent Brethren in Christ historiography, innovate church growth and outreach methods, and provide much-needed theological guidance for a church in cultural transition.
That Boyer would — as his 1951 report suggests — seek to “carry on an appealing youth program” [3] reflects his socio-cultural location, and perhaps the influence of the young-obsessed Evangelical para-church movement. (Think Youth for Christ and their efforts to “win” youth to an attractive old-time religion through a blend of Evangelical piety and pop culture.) This was an increasing concern for Brethren in Christ leaders of Boyer’s generation. It resulted in the creation of Brethren in Christ initiatives like Christ’s Crusaders, and accelerated many of the cultural changes initiated by the Brethren in Christ in the 1950s and 1960s.