“[L]ittle difficulties will get to be great difficulties”: Joel Palmer and the Office of Indian Affairs in the Oregon Territory, 1853-56

Using primary sources from ‘Frontier Life’ - an Adam Matthew collection

The collection focuses on the letters and correspondence of Palmer (1810 – 1881), the superintendent of Indian affairs in the Oregon Territory, from 1853-57. He believed that, since white settlers had occupied the valley lands, the only means of saving the Indians was for the government to provide reservations and assistance for them, in order that they could become settled people[1]. Palmer was responsible establishing many reservations, negotiating nine secession treaties from tribes in the surrounding areas. ‘Frontier Life’ has a cross-section of correspondence and other texts relating to Palmer’s career. Continue reading

‘Strangers’ Revisited: Reading Donald Trump through John Higham

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

Foreshadowing the expressed foreign policy by the incumbent President of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers confessed in 1920 that immigration might endanger the nation and exclaimed that policy must rest on “the needs and interests of America first”. We learn this from reading John Higham’s seminal work, Strangers in the Land, which quietly celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. The book’s subject is American nativism, defined by its author as “intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign (i.e. un-American) connections”. Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Crossing Boundaries: Challenging American Norms During the 1950s and 1960s’

In the second of our review series for the HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Winning Minds and Hearts: Constructing National Identity in US History’, Natasha Neary reviews a panel featuring Simon Buck (Northumbria University) and Elizabeth Smith (Liverpool Hope University). Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Leonard Matlovich: Military Heroism and the Making of a Gay Icon’

Megan Hunt Introduces the HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference Review Series On September 9th 2016, Northumbria University hosted the annual Postgraduate Conference for Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HOTCUS), around the theme of ‘Winning Minds and Hearts: Constructing National Identity in US History.’ With traditional academic panels, developmental roundtables, and a … Continue reading

Storify of #bookhour chat on THE MANDIBLES by Lionel Shriver

October 2016 marked our two year anniversary of #bookhour, and to celebrate this ongoing feature former U.S. Studies Online co-editor Michelle Green hosted a discussion of ‘financial crisis dystopia’ The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver with a panel of US and UK researchers. During the discussion Dr Kirk Boyle, Amy Bride, Sarah McCreedy and Michelle Green discussed Shriver’s depiction of material culture, emotions and capitalism, and to what extent the novel is a dystopia or plays with dystopian tropes. Debates arose around how self-conscious Shriver’s novelistic writing is, and if the novel is a Libertarian Candide or postmodern parody. The panellists ended the discussion by returning to The Mandibles as a neonaturalist novel, and left the chat asking, do the Mandibles achieve their capitalist utopia, and is a capitalist utopia achievable? Continue reading

Review: Images of America: Reality and Stereotypes

In 1947 Harvard graduate Clemens Heller envisioned an academic community in which former enemies could discuss, analyse, and critique the culture of the United States as the new post-war superpower. Almost seventy years on and the Salzburg Global Seminar is still going, stronger than ever and attracting leading academics and professionals from major institutions across the world. Continue reading

Review: The US and Us: American History in Britain in the Twenty-First Century

Studying American history in the UK poses a number of challenges for scholars – not least in terms of accessing primary sources. More than this, the workshop provided a space for early career researchers to discuss and identify the problems they face at this stage in their career, as well as the opportunities they have to shape the nature of US history in UK Higher Education. Continue reading

Application Advice: Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation

This month I am visiting the United States for eighteen days to conduct primary source research central to my PhD thesis, ‘Spies, civil liberties and the Senate: the 1975 Church Committee’. It is the first time I have been to the US, and it is mainly due to the award I received from the Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation that I am able to spend such a significant amount of time there. Continue reading

Book Review: U.S. Military Bases, Quasi-Bases and Domestic Politics in Latin America by Sebastian E. Bitar

Since 1999 all attempts by the US government to open formal military bases in Latin America have failed. This leads one to assume the US has lost much of its military influence in the region. However, the existence of so-called quasi-bases, or informal bases, discussed in Sebastian Bitar’s book, demonstrates that the US has managed to maintain its military influence. Quasi-bases differ from formal bases in no other way than that they lack a formal lease agreement for use of facilities. Essentially, quasi-bases serve the same purposes as formal bases, but exist in a cloud of secrecy. Continue reading

When a novel changes a social system: Mary Jane Ward’s The Snake Pit (1946) and the US state psychiatric hospital

It is rare for a novel to radically affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, yet Mary Jane Ward’s novel, The Snake Pit (1946), drew widespread critical attention to the plight of the mentally ill in American state asylums. It is not claiming too much to say that treatment of the insane began its long, unsteady road to improvement after Ward’s fiction had reached out to a huge, popular audience, tackling a subject that had previously been taboo. Continue reading