Failed Republicans: Images of the British and the French in New England, 1789-1820
In the years of the Early American Republic (1789-1820), New Englanders often compared themselves with the British and the French. Such comparing and contarsting was an ambiguous process. New Englanders simultaneously extolled republican political institutions and sought to mimick French and English architecture, dress styles, and furniture. They thought that the British failed as republicans because they had restored monarchy after the Civil War and succumbed to the siren song of luxury. Similarly, New Englanders criticized the French Revolution for giving birth to an oppressive government and a cluster of non-republican vices such as gambling and the theatre. In this portrait, French women who worked in male professions and neglected their duty as republican mothers were portrayed as defeminized by the violence of the French Terror. These selective images enabled New Englanders to confirm their republican political and cultural virtues and to give voice to a feeling of American superiority.
Keywords: Nationalism, Regionalism, Trans-Atlantic History
Assistant Professor, Social Sciences