Failed Republicans: Images of the British and the French in New England, 1789-1820

Stephanie Kermes
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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
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Failed Republicans

Stephanie Kermes

Assistant Professor, Social Sciences
College of General Studies, Boston University

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

I am an American historian, born in Germany. I recieved a Master's degree from the University of Munich, Germany and a Ph.D. from Boston College, USA. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Social Science at Boston University, where I am teaching an interdisciplinary Social Science course. I just completed a book manuscript on early American nationalism in New England and I am working on a new project on the education of Massachusetts girls in the 19th century. I published a few book reviews and an article on Massachusetts loyalists who returned to the USA after the American Revolution. The Huntington Library and Bostonian Society supported my work with research scholarships. I also received a John Nicholas Brown Dissertation Fellowship from Brown University.

Ref: I07P0812