All posts by D. Davis

Summer Reading for Summer Travel: Aristocracy in America

Aristocracy in America: Francis Grund’s Critique of European Travel Accounts in the Early Republic

By Armin Mattes


MattesArmin Mattes is assistant research professor and assistant editor of the Papers of James Madison at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Citizens of a Common Intellectual Homeland: The Transatlantic Origins of American Democracy and Nationhood and the editor of Francis J. Grund’s Aristocracy in America: From the Sketch-Book of a German Nobleman.

Top image: Samuel Beals Thomas, with His Wife, Sarah Kellogg Thomas, and Their Two Daughters, Abigail and Pauline by Edward Dalton Marchant

By the 1830s, America as the “New World” had long held a special place in the imagination of Europeans. Initially, this fascination concentrated more on America’s natural wonders and economic potential, but increasingly shifted to social and political phenomena after the American Revolution and the establishment of a republican regime. With the French Revolutionary Wars finally over in 1815, travel to America became easier and safer, and accordingly in the 1820s and 1830s the number of travel accounts on American society proliferated. The most famous of these was Alexis de Tocqueville’s two volume (1835, 1840) Democracy in America, but there were many more such as Michel Chevalier’s (1836) Lettres sur L’Amérique du Nord, Basil Hall’s (1829) Travels in North America, in the Years 1827 and 1828, Thomas Hamilton’s (1833) Men and Manners in America, Harriet Martineau’s (1837) Society in America, and Frances Trollope’s (1832) Domestic Manners of the Americans, to mention just the most important of them.

The style and quality of these travel accounts varied considerably, but all of them in one form or another were fascinated by one aspect in particular: the lack of a nobility in America. Nowadays, this does not seem like a big deal, but it is worth remembering that in the 1830s the republican United States was the oddity and all these visitors came from countries with a titled nobility and a more or less hierarchical social and political order. However, the trend especially in Great Britain and France was towards a greater liberalization. Hence these European writers were curious to see if and how a country without a politically defined upper class could work and what democracy in practice would mean for an upper class, a topic the more pertinent to these writers, all of whom belonged to the upper classes of European nations.

Unsurprisingly, the opinions of European visitors on American society and its elite differed. For example, Hall, Hamilton, and Trollope were clearly not impressed with what they saw and published highly critical accounts of the state of American society, describing American manners and social norms as rough and almost denying that something like an American (social) aristocracy that would deserve that name existed. Others such as Martineau differentiated more and while criticizing the manners of the masses, sympathized with and praised members of the American elites. All of them, however, agreed that the United States were thoroughly democratic and that the elites were virtually powerless. For instance, Alexis de Tocqueville noted that since upper class Americans were “unable to assume a position in public life comparable to that which they occupy in private life,” they retreated from politics altogether. As a result, they formed “a society apart, with its own distinctive tastes and pleasures,” but without political power; and since they were without power, the elite also posed no danger to American democracy. Even though, as Tocqueville realized, “the rich feel a deep disgust with their country’s democratic institutions.”

Interestingly, these European writers’ observations were in contradiction with Americans’ own perception of both the existence and dangers of an “aristocracy” in America. Jacksonian Democrats routinely conjured up the specter of “aristocracy,” and the trappings of European aristocratic culture held considerable allure for many members of the American elite. Francis Grund’s Aristocracy in America, published in 1839 in an English (London) and German edition aimed to bridge this transatlantic divergence of perceptions.

Few persons were better suited to this task than Francis Grund. Born in 1805 in Bohemia, he attended university in Vienna and was thus familiar with the nature of European aristocracy. Unlike most other European travel writers, however, Grund did not just tour the United States for a couple of months but immigrated to the nation in the mid-1820s and became a U.S. citizen, an influential journalist, and an active politician, thus gaining a deeper understanding of American society. Being a strong supporter of Jackson and Van Buren’s Democratic Party in the 1830s, Grund was also much more familiar with, and sympathetic to, the Jacksonians’ preoccupation with “aristocracy” than the other mostly conservative, upper-class European writers.

In short, Grund’s Aristocracy in America provides an ideal source to explore the aspirations, power, and danger that parts of the early republican elite posed to American democracy, which generally eluded European travelers. In contrast to most other European observers of American society, Grund painted a picture of America in which the danger to the republic did not come from below but from the pseudo-aristocratic pretensions of certain subsets of the American elite. Illustrating vividly, in a sarcastic and often highly entertaining way, the elite’s incessant hunger for exclusiveness, he revealed significant counter-democratic tendencies in the Jacksonian period. By thus bringing a class conflict fueled from above to the fore, Aristocracy in America can help one to better understand the ubiquitous rhetoric of a struggle between “aristocracy” and “democracy” in the Early Republic.

Next blog post: an excerpt from Aristocracy in America


Mattes coverAristocracy in America
From the Sketch-Book of a German Nobleman
By Francis J. Grund
Edited and with an Introduction by Armin Mattes
452 pages • Hardcover • ISBN: 9780826221568 • $40.00
Part of the Studies in Constitutional Democracy series

Fall & Winter 2019 Catalog

Our Fall & Winter 2019 catalog has just arrived! It features new titles on subjects that range from journalism to the history of the Early Republic. It also includes our newest paperbacks and backlist highlights. Have a look for yourself!

F19 Catalog cover image

The Myth of Coequal Branches: The Standoff between Congress and the White House

SiemersLately, almost every evening on the nightly news, politicians, pundits, and hosts can be heard talking about the “coequal” branches of government. But what if this idea is a myth and not part of the Constitution at all? David Siemers asserts precisely this and comments on the standoff between the White House and Congress to explain his argument.

The House Oversight Committee, suspecting the presence of criminal behavior, has demanded documents from President Trump’s accounting firm.  The president has filed suit in federal court to prevent their release.  This standoff has placed two ways of constitutional thinking in stark juxtaposition.  The first is more familiar to most Americans—two coequal branches are jousting over the proper settlement of a constitutional dilemma.  This understanding is pithily captured by political scientist Sarah Binder in a recent Tweet:  “the branches typically negotiate out their disagreements; Co-equal branches can’t easily compel the other branch to accede to demands.”  Despite being more familiar, I demonstrate in The Myth of Coequal Branches that this way of thinking is actually a recent innovation, stemming from similar disagreements between Congress and the Nixon Administration, which resisted requests of Congress by citing the president’s coequal status.

The second way of thinking has just been articulated by US District Judge Amit P. Mehta in an initial ruling on the Trump case:  “It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct.”  Rather than concentrating on how much power each branch has, and asserting that it is equal, this ruling focuses on the legitimate function of each branch.  In pursuing their investigation into the Trump organization, Judge Mehta has noted that Congress is operating well within its constitutionally authorized sphere.  We can call this latter approach a “separation of functions” understanding of the Constitution, to distinguish it from the idea that there are three branches with equal power.

The choice between these two modes of constitutional thinking is not esoteric.  At issue is whether the Constitution’s own outlines for governance are followed, or whether they are replaced by a constitutional myth devised by interested actors.  Politicians offer up the idea that their branch is coequal because they know that the idea will be accepted on faith.  “Coequality” allows each branch to claim partial control over every matter before government, regardless of constitutional authorization. This rhetoric also forestalls further constitutional analysis.  Disputes may end in resolution, but not ones that are satisfactorily explained to the public, who assume that each branch should have equal say.

The American founders did not believe that the branches were equal in power.  James Madison and Alexander Hamilton baldly contradicted the idea in The Federalist.  We should take care to better understand the constitutional system we are in.  Each branch has an equally legitimate role to play, but the branches are not equals in their power or in their function.

Notes:
Sarah Binder’s Tweet was “published” at 5:29 AM on May 7 2019: https://twitter.com/bindersab/status/1125739509033963523
The Mehta quote is on p. 24 of Trump v. Committee on Oversight filed May 20, 2019:  https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6019021/Mehta-Order-20190520.pdf

To read David Siemers’s full argument, check out his book! It can be found on our website and retail outlets such as Amazon.

SiemersThe Myth of Coequal Branches

Restoring the Constitution’s Separation of Functions

David J. Siemers

242 pages

Published: December 2018

ISBN: 9780826221698

Studies in Constitutional Democracy

David J. Siemers is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and the author of four books, including Presidents and Political Thought. He lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

 

The Wall Street Journal review of ‘The Panic of 1819’: Easy Money, Bad Decisions

The Panic of 1819 has been reviewed by the Wall Street Journal!

A boom in lending was followed by a bust and hard times. The crisis inspired a new spirit of self-reliance and impressive economic debate.

bank

The Second Bank of the United States was heavily criticized in the aftermath of the Panic of 1819. PHOTO: KEAN COLLECTION/GETTY IMAGES

By
James Grant

April 17, 2019 6:54 p.m. ET

Few will feel the urge to spray confetti in this year of the bicentennial of the 1819 panic. The wondrous thing, by Andrew Browning’s telling, is that the young country survived it. The title of Mr. Browning’s fine and formidable history only hints at its scope. “The Panic of 1819” is, in fact, a political, social and financial history of the U.S., before, during and after America’s first great depression.

If you have a subscription to the WSJ, you can continue reading here:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-panic-of-1819-review-easy-money-bad-decisions-11555541693

A Republic in Crisis: A Postscript to Farewell to Prosperity

9780826220295Lisle A. Rose’s 2014 A Farewell to Prosperity: Wealth, Identity, and Conflict in Postwar America is an in-depth study of the Liberal and Conservative forces that fought each other to shape American political culture and character during the nation’s most prosperous years. The book’s central theme is the bitter struggle to fashion post–World War II society between a historic Protestant Ethic that equated free-market economics and money-making with Godliness and a new, secular Liberal temperament that emerged from the twin ordeals of depression and world war to stress social justice and security. Now, Rose has written a postscript that focuses on the current political situation under “Trumpism.”

The University of Missouri Press encourages the free exchange of ideas. Occasionally, we host additional content from our authors, giving them the chance to discuss their work, others’ work or the world at large. The views and opinions expressed in these posts are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by the University of Missouri Press.

Read the entire postscript here:

Farewell to Prosperity Postscript: A Republic in Crisis


Other titles by Lisle A. Rose

Rose - Americas Sailors in the Great War 72 dpiAmerica’s Sailors in the Great War
Seas, Skies, and Submarines
$36.95 • 9780826221056 • Hardcover • 344 pp. • 25 illus.

 

 

 

9780826217820Explorer
The Life of Richard E. Byrd
$34.95 • 9780826217820 • Hardcover • 568 pp. • 32 illus.

 

 

Rose jktsPower at Sea, Volume 1
The Age of Navalism, 1890-1918
$24.95 • 9780826217011 • Paperback • 384 pp. • 16 illus.

 

 

Rose jktsPower at Sea, Volume 2
The Breaking Storm, 1919-1945
$24.95 • 9780826217028 • Paperback • 536 pp. • 21 illus.

 

 

Rose jktsPower at Sea, Volume 3
A Violent Peace, 1942-2006
$24.95 • 9780826217035 • Paperback • 392 pp. • 14 illus.

Robert H. Ferrell, 1921-2018

We are sorry to announce the death of author and American historian, Robert H. Ferrell, who died on August 8th at the age of 97. The New York Times gives a very nice account of his life in their obituary.

Today, we feature a tribute to Ferrell from friends and former students in the form of a book the University of Missouri Press published several years ago: Presidents, Diplomats, and Other Mortals, edited by J. Garry Clifford and Theodore A. Wilson.

The Ferrell contribution rests on the special qualities of his scholarship, expressed with grace and economy, and often with humor, over the past half century. To say that he is a prolific scholar does not do justice to the stream of books—monographs, surveys, diaries, memoirs, texts, and documents—he has written or edited since the publication of his first book in 1952. They number more than fifty…

Yet it is arguable in light of the recollections of his students that his influence as a teacher may have been more significant than his accomplishments as a writer.—Lawrence Kaplan

The authors of this tribute sought to exemplify the scholarly standards of narrative diplomatic history espoused by Ferrell—especially the notion that historians should attempt to explain fully the circumstances, opportunities, and pressures that influence foreign policy decisions while remembering that historical actors cannot with certainty predict the outcomes of their actions.

Presidents, Diplomats

Presidents, Diplomats, and Other Mortals
J. Garry Clifford, Theodore A. Wilson
9780826217479 • hardcover • 352 pp. • $50.00


Robert Ferrell wrote and edited more than 60 (!) books in his lifetime and published more than 20 with the University of Missouri Press. Here are a just a few:

HST a life         Autobio of HST         Five Days

Collapse at Meuse         9780826212030         9780826220608

Harry S. Truman: A Life
97808262105000 • paperback • 520 pp. • 32 illus. • $29.95

The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman
9780826214454 • paperback • 160 pp. • 32 illus. • $19.95

Five Days in October: The Lost Battalion of World War I
9780826220738 • paperback • 152 pp. • 17 illus. • $19.95

Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division
9780826221421 • paperback • 176 pp. • 21 illus. • $24.95

Harry S. Truman and the Cold War Revisionists
9780826220608 • paperback • 160 pp. • $19.95

Dear Bess: The Letters from Harry to Bess Truman, 1910-1959
9780826212030 • paperback • 608 pp. • 55 illus. • $34.95

Early Missouri

Rich details of early life in Missouri’s river valleys define two of our newly available paperbacks.

Ekberg cover

$36.95 • ISBN: 978-0-8262-2132-2

François Vallé (1716–1783) was born in Beauport, Canada and immigrated to Upper Louisiana as a penniless common laborer sometime during the early 1740s. Settling in Ste. Genevieve, he engaged in agriculture, lead mining, and the Indian trade, and ultimately became the wealthiest and most powerful individual in Upper Louisiana, although he never learned to read or write.

Based entirely on primary source documents, Carl Ekberg’s François Vallé and His World: Upper Louisiana Before Lewis and Clark traces the life of Vallé, his family, and the lives of his slaves. In doing so, Ekberg provides a portrait of Missouri’s very first black families, something that has never before been attempted.

Duden cover

$39.95 • ISBN: 978-0-8262-2143-8

The mass migrations to the United States from Europe that began in the 1830s were strongly influenced by what is known today as emigration literature—travelers’ writings about their experiences in the New World. Gottfried Duden’s account, published in 1829, was among the most influential of these books. Written as a collection of letters, the idyllic descriptions of pioneer farming in Missouri made it an instant success that attracted thousands of Germans to the Midwest, particularly to Missouri. This edited and annotated translation is the first complete version to be published in English.

The Mississippi-Missouri valley reminded Duden of his native Rhineland where the rivers facilitated trade and transportation, and fertile river bottom land offered the perfect environment for agriculture. Duden farmed the land he bought during his stay in Missouri, and he includes meticulous descriptions of clearing, fencing, and harvesting. His pro-emigration bias and his ability to hire help on his farm made his view of the farmer’s life more idyllic than practical. Many would-be gentlemen farmers, inspired by his book to come to Missouri, found pioneer farming more strenuous than they had expected.


Ekberg cover

FRANÇOIS VALLÉ AND HIS WORLD
Upper Louisiana before Lewis and Clark
Carl J. Ekberg

Winner, Kemper and Leila Williams Prize in Louisiana History

$36.95 | ISBN: 978-0-8262-2132-2 |  336 pp. | 16 illus. | 6.13 x 9.25

Duden coverREPORT ON A JOURNEY TO THE WESTERN STATES OF NORTH AMERICA
and a Stay of Several Years Along the Missouri (During the Years 1824-1827)
By Gottfried Duden; James W. Goodrich, General Editor
George H. Kellner, Elsa Nagel, Adolf E. Schroeder, and W. M. Senner, Editors and Translators

$39.95| ISBN: 978-0-8262-2143-8 | 400 pp. | 6 x 9

François Vallé and Report on a Journey are both available at Amazon and IndieBound,  and on our website, or by calling 800-621-2736.

The Unheeded Cry

Yesterday, Sunday June 3rd, was National Animal Rights Day. In honor of this day, we’re featuring two of our books on animal ethics, The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain, and Science and A New Basis for Animal Ethics: Telos and Common Sense

How can science teach us that animals feel no pain when our common sense observations tell us otherwise? Bernard Rollin offers welcome insight into questions like this in his ground-breaking account of the difficult and controversial issues surrounding the use of animals. He demonstrates that the denial of animal consciousness and animal suffering is not an essential feature of a scientific approach, but rather a contingent, historical aberration that can and must be changed if science is to be both coherent and morally responsible. Widely hailed by advocates of animal welfare and scientists alike on its first appearance, the book—now in paperback—includes an epilogue by the author describing what has changed, and what hasn’t, in the use of animals in scientific research and food production.

I have watched this book reach and unlock the minds of my most skeptical science and engineering students. The Unheeded Cry demonstrates to them, as nothing else has, the sense in which science is value-laden, and why that matters.—Laurie Anne Whitt, Michigan Technological University

Rollin Unheeded

 

THE UNHEEDED CRY
Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain, and Science
Bernard E. Rollin

$26.00 • Paperback: 978-0-8262-2126-1 • 348 pp. • 6 x 9

Available at Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes&Noble, and on our website, or by calling 800-621-2736.

Happy Birthday, Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s 182nd birthday is coming up on November 30th and we are celebrating by highlighting the Press’s recent publications on the great writer from Missouri.

Forthcoming:

Scharnhorst coverTHE LIFE OF MARK TWAIN
The Early Years, 1835–1871
Gary Scharnhorst
March | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2144-5 | $36.95 T | 724 pp. 25 illus.

“Gary Scharnhorst’s monumental biography sets a new standard for comprehensiveness. This will prove to be the standard biography for our generation.”—Alan Gribben, author of Mark Twain’s Literary Resources: A Reconstruction of His Library and Reading

“Clear and engaging, Scharnhorst’s prose keeps you rolling happily through this consummate American adventure.”—Bruce Michelson, author of Printer’s Devil: Mark Twain and the American Publishing Revolution

Over three volumes, Gary Scharnhorst elucidates the life of arguably the greatest American writer and reveals the alchemy of his gifted imagination. This is the first multi-volume biography of Samuel Clemens to appear in over a century. All Clemens biographers since then have either tailored their narratives to fit a single volume or focused on a particular aspect of Clemens’s life; this new, comprehensive biography is plotted from beginning to end. The first volume follows Clemens from his childhood in Missouri to his work in printshops, his career as a Mississippi River pilot, his writing stint in Nevada, and his trip to Europe and the Holy Land, and ends with his move east to Buffalo, New York.

With dozens of Twain biographies available, what is left unsaid? On average, a hundred Clemens letters and a couple of his interviews surface every year. Scharnhorst has located numerous documents, including some which have been presumed lost, relevant to Clemens’s life.

Gary Scharnhorst is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He is the author or editor of fifty books, including Mark Twain on Potholes and Politics: Letters to the Editor. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

06 Beidler coverRAFTS AND OTHER RIVERCRAFT IN HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Peter G. Beidler
JANUARY | Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2138-4 | $40.00 S
212 pp. | 57 illus. | 6 x 9

“Dr. Beidler’s critiques of inaccurate literary analyses and book illustrations will be of real value to historians and archaeologists with an interest in the navigation and trade on the western rivers, as well as to professionals in the field of American literature, and especially to all readers who want to know about the river world of Huck Finn.”—Kevin Crisman, author of The Eagle: An American Brig on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812

The raft that carries Huck and Jim down the Mississippi River is often seen as a symbol of adventure and freedom, but the physical specifics of the raft itself are rarely considered. Peter Beidler shows that understanding the material world of Huckleberry Finn, its limitations and possibilities, is vital to truly understanding Mark Twain’s novel. He illustrates how experts on Twain’s works have misinterpreted important aspects of the story due to their unfamiliarity with the various rivercraft that figure in the book.

Huck and Jim’s little raft is not made of logs, as it is often depicted in illustrations, but of sawn planks, and it was originally part of a much larger raft. Beidler explains why this matters and describes the other rivercraft that appear in the book. He gives what will almost certainly be the last word on the vexed question of whether the lengthy “raft episode,” removed at the publisher’s suggestion from the novel, should be restored to its original place.

Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English, Emeritus, at Lehigh University and has written many books, including A Reader’s Guide to the Novels of Louise Erdrich. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Recently available:

Harrington Jenn coverMARK TWAIN AND FRANCE
The Making of a New American Identity
Paula Harrington and Ronald Jenn
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2119-3 | 50.00 S | 248 pp.
12 photos | 6 x 9

“Alternately takes up panoramic historical and cultural vistas and carefully analyzes passages from all sorts of text with judgment and a sense of proportion.”—Tom Quirk, University of Missouri, author of Mark Twain and Human Nature

“The authors work seamlessly back and forth between historical data, biographical detail, and attention to multiple works by Twain that illuminate his complex relationship to the French and to France.”—Linda A. Morris, University of California, author of Gender Play in Mark Twain

While critics have generally dismissed Mark Twain’s relationship with France as hostile, Harrington and Jenn see Twain’s use of the French as a foil to help construct his identity as “the representative American.” Examining new materials that detail his Montmatre study, the carte de visite album, and a chronology of his visits to France, the book offers close readings of writings that have been largely ignored, such as The Innocents Adrift manuscript and the unpublished chapters of A Tramp Abroad, combining literary analysis, socio-historical context and biographical research.

Paula Harrington is director of the Farnham Writers’ Center and an assistant professor of writing at Colby College. In 2013, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, doing research that led to her collaboration with Jenn on this book. She lives in Portland, Maine. Ronald Jenn is a professor at Université de Lille, France. He is the author of La Pseudo-traduction, de Cervantès à Mark Twain. He lives in Lille, France.

Wuster - Twain Amer HumorMARK TWAIN, AMERICAN HUMORIST
Tracy Wuster
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2056-1 | $60.00 S

“What makes this book a fresh and welcome addition to Mark Twain criticism is its focus on particular aspects of cultural production: periodicals, the lyceum circuit, after-dinner speeches, subscription publishing, and the book mock-ups prepared for the canvassers. Wuster is particularly good at bringing us in close for an inspection of the machinery of cultural judgement in periodicals, reviews of authors and their comic writing, as well as reviews of performance on the lecture circuit.”—James Caron, author of Mark Twain, Unsanctified Newspaper Reporter

Scharnhorst_Mark Twain_FNLMARK TWAIN ON POTHOLES AND POLITICS 
Letters to the Editor
Edited by Gary Scharnhorst
Hardcover | 978-0-8262-2046-2 | $35.00 S

“As aggressive a moralist and critic as Twain seems in hi more conventional fiction, here Twain is assertive, fantastically comic, lawlessly imaginative—unruly, strident, and irascible. This raw newspaper journalism is central to understanding the writing style fo ‘Mark Twain’ as it had to be adjusted by editors like Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Livy Clemens for his work to rise to universal stature as art. More important, the journalism is central to understanding the pragmatic, human-centered ideology that drives Twains’ work.”—Choice

To browse our entire collection of Mark Twain titles, see our Mark Twain and His Circle series, edited by Tom Quirk and John Bird. This series incorporates books on Mark Twain and the several circles he inhabited (domestic, political, artistic, and other) to provide a venue for new research in Twain studies and, from time to time, to reprint significant studies that have been too long out of print.