Monday, November 23, 2015

Two from Grant: "Civilizing the Colonial Subject," "The Treaty of Hartford"

Via the Law & History Collaborative Research Network, we have word of two recently published articles by Daragh Grant (Harvard University). (Both articles are behind paywalls, unfortunately.)
'Civilizing' the Colonial Subject: The Co-Evolution of State and Slavery in South Carolina, 1670–1739,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57, no. 3 (July 2015): 606-636.

South Carolina was a staggeringly weak polity from its founding in 1670 until the 1730s. Nevertheless, in that time, and while facing significant opposition from powerful indigenous neighbors, the colony constructed a robust plantation system that boasted the highest slave-to-freeman ratio in mainland North America. Taking this fact as a point of departure, I examine the early management of unfree labor in South Carolina as an exemplary moment of settler-colonial state formation. Departing from the treatment of state formation as a process of centralizing “legitimate violence,” I investigate how the colonial state, and in particular the Commons House of Assembly, asserted an exclusive claim to authority by monopolizing the question of legitimacy itself. In managing unfree laborers, the colonial state extended its authority over supposedly private relations between master and slave and increasingly recast slavery in racial terms. This recasting of racial slavery rested, I argue, on a distinction, pervasive throughout English North America, which divided the world into spheres of savagery and civility. Beneath the racial reordering of colonial life, the institution of slavery was rooted in the same ideological distinction by which the colonial state’s claims to authority were justified, with the putative “savagery” of the slave or of the Indian being counterpoised to the supposed civility of English settlers. This article contributes to the literatures on Atlantic slavery and American colonial history, and invites comparison with accounts of state formation and settler colonialism beyond Anglo-America.

"The Treaty of Hartford (1638): Reconsidering Jurisdiction in Southern New England,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd. Ser., 72, no. 3 (July 2015): 461-498.

On September 21, 1638, the Mohegans, the Narragansetts, and the English colonists on the Connecticut River reached an agreement at Hartford to settle their affairs following the Pequot War. The original copy of the treaty having been lost, scholars have depended almost exclusively on a copy prepared for the 1705 hearing of the Mohegan land case. However, this document represents only a fragment of the original agreement, leaving out four of the thirteen provisions agreed to by the parties in 1638. The original text of the treaty is reconstructed here by drawing on all of the surviving copies of the agreement: the 1705 copy already familiar to historians, a 1734 copy prepared during a later hearing of the Mohegan land case, and a newly rediscovered copy dating from 1665 and held among the British Library's Lansdowne Manuscripts. This reconstructed treaty illuminates how indigenous polities and English settlers sought to navigate the jurisdictional politics of early America. Moreover, it presents scholars with an important resource for reconsidering the evolution of Anglo-Indian relations in New England, particularly the breakdown of the relationship between the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Narragansetts in the early 1640s.

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