Journal of the American Revolution welcomes Cornell University Press as its newest advertiser, promoting two new Revolutionary War titles:
For Fear of an Elective King
George Washington and the Presidential Title Controversy of 1789
by Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon
In the spring of 1789, within weeks of the establishment of the new federal government based on the U.S. Constitution, the Senate and House of Representatives fell into dispute regarding how to address the president. Congress, the press, and individuals debated more than thirty titles, many of which had royal associations and some of which were clearly monarchical. For Fear of an Elective King is Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon’s rich account of the title controversy and its meanings.
The short, intense legislative phase and the prolonged, equally intense public phase animated and shaped the new nation’s broadening political community. Rather than simply reflecting an obsession with etiquette, the question challenged Americans to find an acceptable balance between power and the people’s sovereignty while assuring the country’s place in the Atlantic world. Bartoloni-Tuazon argues that the resolution of the controversy in favor of the modest title of “President” established the importance of recognition of the people’s views by the president and evidence of modesty in the presidency, an approach to leadership that fledged the presidency’s power by not flaunting it.
How the country titled the president reflected the views of everyday people, as well as the recognition by social and political elites of the irony that authority rested with acquiescence to egalitarian principles. The controversy’s outcome affirmed the republican character of the country’s new president and government, even as the conflict was the opening volley in increasingly partisan struggles over executive power. As such, the dispute is as relevant today as in 1789.
For Fear of an Elective King is a tightly focused and impressively researched book about the controversy over what to call the president during the opening days of the first Washington administration. Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon has examined an extraordinary array of materials on the question of titles more generally as well as on the debate itself in its legislative and public phases.”—Peter S. Onuf, author of The Mind of Thomas Jefferson
Published by Cornell University Press, September 2014. $29.95 hardcover; also available as an ebook.
Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence
by Ken Miller
In Dangerous Guests, Ken Miller reveals how wartime pressures nurtured a budding patriotism in the ethnically diverse revolutionary community of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During the War for Independence, American revolutionaries held more than thirteen thousand prisoners—both British regulars and their so-called Hessian auxiliaries—in makeshift detention camps far from the fighting. As the Americans’ principal site for incarcerating enemy prisoners of war, Lancaster stood at the nexus of two vastly different revolutionary worlds: one national, the other intensely local. Captives came under the control of local officials loosely supervised by state and national authorities. Concentrating the prisoners in the heart of their communities brought the revolutionaries’ enemies to their doorstep, with residents now facing a daily war at home.
Many prisoners openly defied their hosts, fleeing, plotting, and rebelling, often with the clandestine support of local loyalists. By early 1779, General George Washington, furious over the captives’ ongoing attempts to subvert the American war effort, branded them “dangerous guests in the bowels of our Country.” The challenge of creating an autonomous national identity in the newly emerging United States was nowhere more evident than in Lancaster, where the establishment of a detention camp served as a flashpoint for new conflict in a community already unsettled by stark ethnic, linguistic, and religious differences. Many Lancaster residents soon sympathized with the Hessians detained in their town while the loyalist population considered the British detainees to be the true patriots of the war. Miller demonstrates that in Lancaster, the notably local character of the war reinforced not only preoccupations with internal security but also novel commitments to cause and country.
“Ken Miller has written a highly interesting book that adds considerably to our understanding of the role that Hessian and other military prisoners played in the British and American conduct of the Revolutionary War. Dangerous Guests is a rich community-based study that shows the value of this type of detailed historical research.”—Wayne Bodle, author of The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War
Published by Cornell University Press, August 2014. $35.00 hardcover; also available as an ebook.