ABOUT THIS EDITION
Three signed articles highlight our premiere issue. A paper written by Bryan LeBeau, associate professor of history at Creighton University, is an academic piece which examines the balance between personal conscience and religious orthodoxy in early 18th century America. In “Franklin and the Presbyterians: Freedom of Conscience and the Need for Order,” professor LeBeau explores the Samuel Hemphill affair and Benjamin Franklin’s participation in the controversy.
Professor LeBeau has authored and edited four books and over fifty articles on early American religious history. He is currently completing a book on Jonathan Dickinson, 18th century New Light minister and first president of Princeton University. It should also be noted that professor LeBeau is director of Creighton University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Society.
Introduction by Circian
Another signed article is a riveting account of Nathan Hale’s capture and execution. Actually, it’s an introduction to “The Quintumviri,” a just-completed novel by Circian. Like many of the essayists whose writings appeared in 18th century America, the author of “The Quintumviri” prefers the pseudonym Circian, at least for now. Lest we forget, “The Quintumviri” is Circian’s third novel.
Cutting through the fog of mystery, we discovered that Circian is a trustee of an historical society, and serves as an officer of a trust for historic preservation. Of interest to history enthusiasts who are Internet-savvy, Circian recently started a new history newsgroup on the Internet focusing on the Revolutionary War (soc.history.war.us-revolution). At present Circian is working “on a serious, modern biography of Nathan Hale.”
If you like your American history in short, solid bites….check out Richard Battin’s story entitled “Early America’s Bloodiest Battle.” Battin writes about Gen. Arthur St. Clair’s disastrous encounter with Chief Little Turtle’s 1000-man Indian force in 1791 in a fast-paced entertaining style. Managing editor of the News-Sentinel, a Knight-Ridder newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Battin wrote this piece during that city’s bicentennial. Battin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a member of both Indiana and Allen County/Fort Wayne historical societies, and admits to a life-long interest in history and research.
In this first edition of The Review we offer a glimpse of the artist behind the painting behind the event– the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Not only was John Trumbull a foremost painter of great events he was a foremost participant in those great events. As an aide to Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War, he observed at close hand history-in-the-making.
As you click on Trumbull’s painting to view it in detail, look carefully. Is that really Cornwallis astride his horse leading the funereal procession? After all, the painting is entitled The Surrender of Cornwallis. But history tells us that Cornwallis, in a display of bad etiquette, feigned sickness to avoid the ignomy of the moment (after all, surrender ceremonies weren’t at the top of a military commander’s list of Things-I-Want-To-Do-Today). In his place, Cornwallis sent his second-in-command Gen. Charles O’Hara to offer up the sword of surrender.
So, who exactly, is leading the column of British troops in John Trumbull’s painting? Cornwallis? Or Gen. O’Hara? If you have the answer, we’d like to know. In turn, we’ll pass it on to our readers who….we fervently hope….would also like to know.
Now that letter writing has all been preempted by the telephone, here comes e-mail, along with a myriad of wireless communications, to further tighten the screws (unless you consider “Meet me for lunch at Alfie’s….11:45….don’t be late….I can only take 45 minutes”, an adequate substitute for a warm, usually-amiable extended written conversation between friends).
That’s one reason we decided to run Thomas Jefferson’s letter to James Madison in this edition. Yes, the letter deals with business– government business. But it’s also a letter between friends, good friends of long-standing. In his letter to Madison, Jefferson writes his now-famous line: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing for America.” In the context of the day, with Shay’s Rebellion as a reference point, Jefferson’s statement given to any number of friendly newspaper editors would have enjoyed a considerable amount of media coverage. And public discussion. Instead, Jefferson elected to make his statement in a letter. To a friend. We hope you enjoy it.
In the poem “Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier” we offer a poignant lament common to all tribes and people and cultures the world over– a loved one gone to the wars. Although the author of this poem, a reverse of “the girl he left behind,” has long since been lost to us, the theme endures, reliving its emotion from one generation to the next. As you click on the title of the poem and you listen to the ballad, imagine a time some two-hundred and twenty years ago when America was young and a girl stood on a hill searching the horizon, calling out to her Johnny “….shool, shool, shool a-roo.”
Since The Review is dedicated to the proposition that serious business ought to be sprinkled with a dash of play (if only because it’s good for the soul), our first issue introduces a most unique crossword puzzle. It’s unique in that its focus is early American history and the crossword is interactive. We know of none other like it anywhere, though that’s not surprising since we created it especially for our readers. Try it out and let us know what you think.