Johann Neem appointed co-editor of *The Journal of the Early Republic*

If you read The Way of Improvement Leads Home regularly you know the work of Johann Neem. Listen to our conversation about the meaning of college in Episode 54 of the podcast. Read our posts featuring Neem’s work here.

I am glad to see the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) appoint Neem as the new co-editor of The Journal of the Early Republic.

Here is co-editor Andrew Shankman:

Dear SHEAR friends,

I’m writing to let you know about some changes at the JER. When David Waldstreicher and I formed our partnership as co-editors, David’s plan was to get things off to a good start and help me and the rest of our editorial team with his considerable experience as a journal editor.  David’s planned stint will be coming to an end on November 1 and he will be stepping down as Co-Editor.  David put his book on Phillis Wheatly on hold when SHEAR and the journal really needed him, and over the past three years I’ve benefitted enormously from seeing his process and editorial integrity up close.  Working with David, our editorial team has been able to maintain the high standards of excellent scholarship that we inherited from our predecessors.  David has been a leader in articulating a vision for the journal that ensures that it reflects the true diversity of the field while paying closer attention to the conversation between past and present historiographies.  Two examples especially stand out, which David saw through to publication: the recent forum “Africa in the Early Republic and the Early Republic in Africa” and the essay by Harvey R. Neptune, “Throwin’ Scholarly Shade: Eric Williams in the New Histories of Capitalism and Slavery,” which is one of the most downloaded pieces the JER has ever published.  Together, in their expansiveness of vision and geographical conception, as well as their engagement with conversation across scholarly generations, these two pieces exemplify what David has been all about as Co-Editor. I take great pleasure in having this opportunity to express my tremendous gratitude to David for generously volunteering his time and for his devotion to helping and mentoring the scholars who entrusted their work to the JER.

David’s departure provides us with the opportunity to welcome a new co-editor, and with great delight and excitement it’s my pleasure to announce that, with his appointment by President Greenberg and the SHEAR Advisory Council, Johann Neem will be joining the JER editorial team as co-editor with me beginning on January 1, 2021.  Johann is well known to many of us as a devoted and conscientious SHEAR citizen and member of the JER editorial board.  He is both a prolific scholar and a thoughtful public intellectual whose publications include Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts, Democracy’s Schools: The Rise of Public Education in America, and, as co-editor with Joanne B. Freeman, Jeffersonians in Power: The Rhetoric of Opposition Meets the Realities of Governing as well as What’s the Point of College: Seeking Purpose in an Age of Reform.  Johann reads widely, deeply, and thoughtfully and has for years provided those submitting to the JER some of the most valuable readers reports our authors have received.  The journal and its authors will benefit enormously from Johann’s erudition, kindness, and boundless intellectual curiosity and generosity, and it is a true pleasure to welcome him to our editorial team.

Andrew Shankman

Co-Editor, Journal of the Early Republic

Religion in the Early Republic at *The Panorama*


Mary Kupiec Cayton of Ohio State and Will Mackintosh of Mary Washington University will be editing a series on religion in the early republic at The Panorama, the blog of The Journal of the Early Republic.  This looks great.

Here is Cayton:

When The Panorama’s editor, Will Mackintosh, asked me late last spring whether I might be interested in working with him to put together a digital roundtable on Religion in the Early American Republic, I found the idea intriguing. I had long thought that it made sense for religion-related topics to have more visibility among scholars of our period.

We also live in very curious times as far as religion is concerned. Over one-third of younger Americans, according to the Pew Research Center, report that they have no religion. At the same time, religion’s role in the public square has seldom been more consequential. What are the topics of interest that this dissonance generates among scholars of religion in the early American republic? How do contemporary attitudes that we bring to the secular study of religion change, disrupt, or complicate the stories we’ve inherited? I was excited by the opportunity to use the Panorama’s digital platform to try to get a better fix on how scholars who are currently working in this area are answering these questions.

We began by compiling a list of the scholars currently working on religion-related topics in the early American republic. We looked for early- and mid-career and senior scholars, as well as scholars who write about diverse faith traditions and identity positions. We looked for those exploring the connections between religious beliefs, groups, institutions, or values on the one hand, and other aspects of life in our period on the other—politics, foreign affairs, social structures and movements, families, business and economics, gender identities and roles, racial and ethnic identities, regional and class cultures. We asked all who agreed to participate the following questions:

  • How does your most recent scholarship (or current scholarly project) involving religion in the early American republic speak to contemporary questions of religion in the public sphere? OR
  • How does that scholarship speak to important dimensions of the American past that have been overlooked or neglected in mainstream narratives of the period?

Read the entire post here.

An Interview with the Editors of the *Journal of the Early Republic*

JEROver at The Panorama, Will Mackintosh interviews Andy Shankman and David Waldstreicher, the new editors of the Journal of the Early Republic.

Here is a taste:

Will: What are some of your plans for your editorial tenure at the Journal of the Early Republic?

Andy: Above all stewardship (which is an idea I’ve stolen from David) because I think the journal is in such great shape and has had such an impressive run of editors. So above all, I hope to do no harm. I’d like to involve the SHEAR community in helping us to think about special issues on topics that a large portion of our readers would like to see. For me, the core mission of the journal is to publish excellent original research drawn primarily from primary sources. But I also feel that we’ve never produced more high-quality scholarship at a greater (even overwhelming) rate than we are right now. I want to think about ways the JER might help us to attempt some broad, synthetic thinking, and perhaps get scholars of different generations and scholarly focuses talking to each other. So many people are asking so many critical questions now about the nation’s origins—about race and slavery, gender relations, the role and nature of the state at all levels, about how all of that relates to capitalism and political economy, about the need to bring together historiographies about institutions, cultural and social relations and constructions, political though,t etc., scholarships that haven’t always engaged with each other as much as they might—it’s a tremendously exciting time to be a student of the early American republic, and I want to think about ways in which the JER can continue to capture and convey that excitement.

David: Doug Bradburn buttonholed me with this same question at SHEAR in Baltimore when I took over in 2012 and I answered in one word: stewardship. (I’m still wondering if he was disappointed.) The job of the editor is to get the best possible work in all subfields into the journal. Articles should be timely in the sense of speaking to matters of current interest to historians, but it is even more important that articles should be built to last a long time, to be resources for historians in all fields and for others who will be interested in we know not what in 10 or 20 or 50 years (witness the renewed fascination with aspects of economic and diplomatic history, utterly unpredicted when I was in grad school). Sooner or later, anything may become timely again. Journal editing is about creating and spreading brand new discoveries and interpretations but also about archiving original research it so it is there to be more easily found later when it is needed. But perhaps most of all, regardless of whether one focuses on the short or long term of scholarship in our field, the number one job of the editors is to draw on whatever expertise we can muster, including especially the readers who graciously review manuscripts for us, to make every piece that passes through our hands (or now, screens) better whether we publish it or not.

Read the entire interview here.

*Hamilton* in the *Journal of the Early Republic*


Over at Professor Park’s Blog, historian Benjamin Park calls our attention to a historian’s roundtable on Hamilton published in the latest issue of The Journal of the Early Republic.

Joanne Freeman, Andrew Shocket, Heather Nathans, Marvin McAllister, Benjamin Carp, and Nancy Isenberg contributed to the roundtable.

Here is a taste of Park’s post:

But is Hamilton historically accurate? Benjamin Carp says that might be the wrong question to ask. Attendees should know that it’s not accurate history–the characters are breaking out into song and dance, after all. Rather than wondering if it is “good history,” we should rather ask, “is it good for historians?” (292) At its best, the play asks intriguing questions regarding how history and myth are constructed. It is left to historians to take advantage of the doors that are opened.

Nancy Isenberg, as you might expect, is not as optimistic. She worries that by merely celebrating the play, historians are abdicating their duty to hold popular memory accountable. She says the historical errors in Hamilton are not peripheral, but “massive” (296). The play distorts Hamilton’s personality and, especially, his commitment to power structures. (I especially enjoyed her discussion of the “faux-feminism” politics in the play [299].) Hamilton is not helping the promotion of accurate and useful history. “Americans ought to feel uncomfortable about their collective past,” she concludes. “We look foolish otherwise, as cheerleaders of American exceptionalism” (303).

Read the entire post here.

The New *Journal of the Early Republic* is Here

Winter 2015:

Reassessing Responses to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions:
New Evidence from the Tennessee and Georgia Resolutions and from Other States

A ‘‘Voice of Benevolence from the Western Wilderness’’: The Politics of Native Philanthropy in the Trans-Mississippi West

Trick or Constitutional Treaty?: The Jay Treaty and the Quarrel over the Diplomatic Separation of Powers

‘‘The Music of a well tun’d State’’: ‘‘The Star Spangled Banner’’ and the Development of a Federalist Musical Tradition\


Digitizing Dolley, and Eliza and Harriott Pinckney

Saunt, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776

Miller, Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence

Nelson, The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding

Glover, Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries

Smith, Robert Morris’s Folly: The Architectural and Financial Failures of an American Founder

Connors, Ingenious Machinists: Two Inventive Lives from the American Industrial Revolution

Peart, Era of Experimentation: American Political Practices in the Early Republic

Criblez, Parading Patriotism: Independence Day Celebrations in the Urban Midwest, 1826–1876

Roth, Gender and Race in Antebellum Popular Culture

Chambers, The Weston Sisters: An American Abolitionist Family

Demos, The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic

Scott and He´brard, Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation

Joint Issue of the *The William & Mary Quarterly* and the *Journal of the Early Republic*

This is a really interesting topic for such a joint issue.  Here is the call for essays:

The William and Mary Quarterly and the Journal of the Early Republic invite proposals for a special joint issue, “Writing To and From the Revolution.”

“Writing To and From the Revolution” aims to approach the American Revolution as a series of unresolved historiographical and methodological questions, asking what it means that colonialists with an interest in the eighteenth century often find themselves writing toward the Revolution while scholars of the early Republic typically find themselves writing away from it. The assumption that American independence forms a watershed— perhaps the watershed—has had remarkable staying power, especially given the ways in which the histories of colonial North America and the early U.S. republic have been and are being transformed.

Our goal is less to craft a new interpretive synthesis or unveil a novel paradigm than to explore a series of questions: How and why does it matter that many of us still write to and from the Revolution? Are there better ways to conceptualize change and continuity—not only with regard to periodization, but also with regard to geographies, social structures, polities, economies, and cultures? How has writing to or from the Revolution shaped the ways in which we have written about the Revolution itself?

We will consider essays that are case studies or historiographical pieces, but we are especially eager to see work that marries the characteristics of those genres to those of a more open-ended think piece.

Although the WMQ and the JER will publish separate sets of articles speaking to each journal’s particular concerns and constituents, the two issues will share an introductory essay, written by Alan Taylor, and a concluding essay, written by Serena Zabin. Arrangements will be made to ensure that subscribers to one journal are able to access the essays in the other journal.

Contributors to both issues will convene at Mount Vernon as guests of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington on March 18 and 19 for a workshop to discuss pre-circulated drafts. Travel expenses up to $500 will be reimbursed; lodging will be provided, as will most of the participants’ meals.

Final articles, running c. 8,000 words, will be peer reviewed. The journals project a publication date of late 2017.

250–word proposals are due by Oct. 15. Proposals to the WMQ should be submitted to Proposals to the JER should be sent to Please direct inquiries to Joshua Piker ( or Catherine E. Kelly (

The New Issue of "The Journal of the Early American Republic* Is Here


An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
John Lauritz Larson

The View from Piqua Agency: The War of 1812, the White River Delawares, and the Origins of Indian Removal
Karim M. Tiro

A Crisis of Legitimacy: Defining the Boundaries of Kinship in the Low Country during the Early Republic
Adam Wolkoff

Of Salt Mountains, Prairie Dogs, and Horned Frogs: The Louisiana Purchase and the Evolution of Federalist Satire 1803–1812
David Dzurec

Saying ‘‘No’’ to the State 
Staughton Lynd