Francis D. Cogliano and Patrick Griffin, Editors
Early American Governance in the Turbulent Atlantic
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA PRESS
Charlottesville and London
ISBN 978-0-8139-4644-3 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-8139-4645-0 (ebook)
1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available for this title.
Cover image: USS Constellation firing upon L’Insurgente,
by Rear Admiral John William Schmidt. (Wikimedia / Naval History and Heritage Command, National Archive ID# 428-KN-2882)
This book is published as part of the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot. With the generous support of the
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Pilot uses cutting-edge publishing technology to produce open access digital editions of high-quality, peer-reviewed monographs from leading
university presses. Free digital editions can be downloaded from: Books at JSTOR, EBSCO, Hathi Trust, Internet Archive, OAPEN, Project MUSE, and many other open repositories.
While the digital edition is free to download, read, and share, the book is under copyright and covered by the following
Creative Commons License: BY-NC-ND. Please consult www.creativecommons.org if you have questions about your rights to reuse the material in this book.
When you cite the book, please include the following
URL for its Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
More information about the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot can be found at https://www.longleafservices.org.
This project had its origins in the Papers of George Washington. As I leafed through these volumes, I came across a slew of letters between Washington and the French officers who had served alongside him in the Continental Army. It took me several years and a few unsuccessful article submissions to realize that these letters explained Washington’s steadfast commitment to American neutrality. From that kernel, this book was born.
I had the good fortune to be working on this project when the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington opened at Mount Vernon in 2013. I was one of seven inaugural fellows, and during my five-month tenure, I made significant progress researching and framing this project. Living and working at Washington’s beloved estate was a wonderful bonus. I am grateful to Doug Bradburn for his conversation and insights. The always efficient and pleasant Mary Jongema helped me with all manner of challenges, including mastering DeVos House. DeDe Petri, Wisconsin’s representative on the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, has been a generous supporter. She hosted me at her home for a research presentation; she also invited me to speak at a gathering in Madison, Wisconsin. I am also grateful to Gwen White and Jon Taylor for their friendship during the fellowship period.
During the 2017–18 academic year, I enjoyed a second fellowship, this time at the Institute for the Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. (Thank you Lesley Walker for making me aware of this opportunity.) This nine-month respite from teaching and administrative duties allowed me to write for this book full time. I am grateful to Ann Harris for her cheerful assistance during my time in Madison and to Ullrich Langer, the program’s director, who always called on me during the weekly research presentations. I also appreciate the comments and insights of the institute’s other fellows. A special shout out to Melissa Vise for her friendship while in Madison and her willingness to share her office with me. This book would not have been completed without these two long-term fellowships. Both gave me time to research, write, and, most importantly, think.
The availability of online historical sources has exploded since I finished graduate school. The National Archives’ Founders Online epitomizes the quality and accessibility the Internet can offer to anyone interested in the nation’s founding generation. Nonetheless, print resources and in-person research remain indispensable for historians. This book offers its existence to the first-rate (and multivolume) Papers of George Washington. In addition to the library at Mount Vernon, my research led me to the excellent holdings at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Lastly, I benefited from the generous borrowing privileges that exist across the thirteen University of Wisconsin libraries. At Parkside’s library, Heather Spencer and Liz Antaramiam deserve special recognition for their heroic efforts in tracking down sources from the other University of Wisconsin campuses.
I want to thank my departmental colleagues at Parkside, Ed Schmitt, Beth Brownson, and David Bruce, for their continued support as I took breaks from teaching to work on this book. Dean Peggy James has been supportive of my research, ensuring a sabbatical, course releases, and research time and money. I am also proud to call her a friend.
As I have worked on this project, I have gained from the insights of many scholars, including Ben Irvin and Rachel Hope Cleves. Lige Gould deserves special recognition for his generosity as a colleague. I discussed American neutrality with him once at Mount Vernon, and he became an enthusiastic supporter of me and this project. He good-naturedly wrote countless letter of recommendations on my behalf, and his help ensured the successful completion of this book.
Deep appreciation goes to my friends who have supported me, including Lesley Walker, Anna Stadick, Dana Oswald, Kenny French, Catherine Stephens, Peter O’Keefe, Lisa Kornetsky, and Sahar Bahmani. Henry Moats and Liam Moats have been supportive in their unique ways, with both ensuring that I got exercise. As I contemplated sailors and privateering, I was able to see Lake Michigan from my study, a vast body of water that is both inspiring and comforting. New York City boasts a first-rate classical public-radio station, WQXR. It has proved to be an essential companion as I researched, wrote, revised, and resubmitted.
Of course, this book would not be seeing the light of day without a publisher. Thanks to Cathy Kelly of the Omohundro Institute for steering me to Nadine Zimmerli at the University of Virginia Press. Nadine has been a strong supporter of this project, and her editorial insights and substantive comments have greatly improved the quality of the final manuscript. I am also grateful to the press’s two anonymous reviewers, who offered generous comments and constructive suggestions, and to Frank Cogliano and Patrick Griffin for including me in The Revolutionary Age series.
The book’s dedication honors two people who have proved indispensable to my scholarly career. Anna Stadick has been a steady and reliable friend throughout this long process, including enabling me to be away from home for long stretches. Sadly, my mentor, Joyce Appleby, passed away while I was working on this book. I want to thank her for the excellent training she gave me as an historian. I hope the final results are worthy of her efforts.