Ohio Seminar Schedule

Ohio Seminar in Early American History and Culture
2018-19 Schedule 

We welcome all faculty and students in the region interested in early American studies, to the Ohio Seminar. Graduate students in Early American History are strongly urged to attend.

September 14  

Cole Jones, Purdue University 
"The Politics of Retribution:  Congressional Nullification of the Convention of Saratoga, 1777-1778."
3:00-4:30PM            235 Dulles Hall

On October 17, 1777, in a field near Saratoga, New York, General John Burgoyne surrendered his army of nearly six thousand British and German troops to an American force under the command of General Horatio Gates.  Under the terms of the surrender agreement, known as the Convention of Saratoga, Gates permitted the Crown troops to depart for England with the sole proscription that they not take the field in America until formally exchanged for revolutionaries in British custody. These generous terms would permit the king’s ministry to employ Burgoyne’s men in Europe, freeing an equal number of fresh troops for the fight in America. Understandably, the Convention proved instantly unpopular with ardent revolutionaries throughout the continent.  Enraged by both real and exaggerated accounts of British abuse of American prisoners, revolutionary Americans demanded retribution.  On January 8, 1778, bowing to popular pressure, the Continental Congress resolved to nullify the Convention by tying the troops’ embarkation to several perquisites to which the British would never agree.
This paper analyzes Congress's efforts to dismantle the Convention of Saratoga. I argue that by repudiating Gates’s agreement, the delegates openly flouted the norms of the European culture of war that the revolutionary leadership had held sacrosanct since the commencement of hostilities.  Unlike prior acts of congressional retaliation, which were aimed at redressing specific examples of prisoner abuse on the part of the British thereby improving the plight of American prisoners in British hands, Congress's decision to invalidate the Convention was instead an acknowledgement that the rules by which the revolutionaries had conducted the war had changed.  The time had come for a new policy: a policy of retribution. By refusing to exchange the prisoners, even when it would have been militarily and politically advantageous, while simultaneously failing to provide for their support and subsistence, Congress set the Convention army on a march to its demise.  Once the delegates settled on suspending their embarkation, Congress had little option but to foist the prisoners upon state officials and local communities that were either incapable or unwilling to provide for the men.  Of the six thousand soldiers who surrendered at Saratoga, fewer than eight hundred would return to British lines at war's end.
Copies of Professor Cole’s paper will be available in 106 Dulles Hall, opposite the Receptionist’s Desk. 
October 19

Noeleen McIlvenna, Wright State
“America’s First Republicans: Fendall’s Rebellion of 1660.”
3:00-4:30PM            168 Dulles Hall

Revolutionary eras are always marked by a rich and widespread public discourse on power, with a full spectrum of philosophies on offer. Just as in England, Maryland during the 1640s and 1650s saw all manner of people with every mix of concern over money, power and religion voice their feelings and take up political stances as each new constitutional crisis unfolded. The 1650s saw the arrival of more of Oliver's Army, reinforcing the strength of many who had rebelled in 1645. The arguments got convoluted sometimes and some individuals behaved cynically, using constitutional niceties to defend their wealth. But as the debate raged, so did the political education of all. And gradually the fog lifted to reveal that, if one wanted to protect one’s property, one’s economic opportunities, or one’s freedom to worship, one had to have access to the political process. Thomas Gerard's egalitarian neighbors saw the distinct possibility of a Commonwealth in Maryland. Josias Fendall and Thomas Gerard brought together many Marylanders in search of a meritocracy in what has become known as Fendall’s Rebellion.
Copies of Professor McIlvenna’s paper are available in 106 Dulles Hall, opposite the Receptionist’s Desk.  

November 16 

Ronald J. and Mary Saacino Zboray, University of Pittsburgh 
"Performing Disabled Veterancy: The 'Armless Sailor,' Street Vending, and Politics, 1866-1869" 
3:00-4:30PM            235 Dulles Hall

After the American Civil War, many veterans with disabilities became mendicant organ grinders in order to supplement inadequate pensions or eke out a meager living. Although they may have numbered in the thousands by 1870 little has been written about their lives, their street-vending practices, and the ways they intersected with the public, partly because evidence about them is scant and difficult to locate. One mendicant, however, named Bernard Tobey, “The Armless Sailor,” left behind a trail of newspaper, genealogical, and photographic documentation of his successful plying of the trade and popularity with the press. Our research shows that Tobey, who lost his arms in 1856 while firing a cannon during a festival in California, and who posed as a veteran after the war, nonetheless demonstrates what life may have been like for Reconstruction era street-performing veterans with disabilities. The case of Tobey also shows ways in which mendicant veterans may have become imbricated in post-war politics of the street. Traveling with his son, Bernard, Jr., throughout the Northeast and Midwest from 1866 to 1869, Tobey was heartily patronized as a hero of the Second Battle of Fort Fischer (January 1865), and appropriated by politicians, newspaper editors, and patrons to further veterans’ rights, as well as Republican and Radical political agendas. This paper contributes to the growing scholarship on disabled veterans in history as well as to Disability Studies, in its concern with historical, cultural, and social contexts.

February 1 

John Blanton, City College (CUNY) 
"First Enslavements and First Emancipations: Property and Personhood in 1619"  
3:00-4:30PM            168 Dulles Hall

March 8

Adam Thomas, OSU-PSPP Post-Doctoral Scholar
"'I do not know what they call duty': The Politics of Necessity in the 1831 Emancipation Wars"
3:00-4:30 PM        168 Dulles Hall
Copies of Adam Thomas’s paper are available in 106 Dulles Hall, opposite the Receptionist’s Desk.

April 5

Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, University of Toledo 
"Mary Willing Byrd and the Era of the American Revolution."
3:00-4:30PM            168 Dulles Hall


The papers for the 2018-2019 seminars will be available in PDF format via the local list-serve two weeks prior to each meeting, and a limited number of copies of the papers will be available at the department front desk in 106 Dulles Hall. For people driving into Columbus, there is now visitor parking available at both the Union North and Arps Parking structures, both on College Ave.  For further details, see http://osu.campusparc.com/home/visitors
We will continue our tradition of a "Dutch-treat" dinner following the seminar, open to all, at a restaurant of the presenter's choosing!!   Further details will be distributed prior to each seminar.  Anyone with questions regarding these sessions should contact John Brooke.  Brooke.10@osu.edu