Lecture Description

This lecture examines the material culture and ceremonies of state—including, for example, funeral processions, diplomatic protocols, and presentment swords—by which the Continental Congress endeavored to rally the American people for war against Great Britain and to legitimate the infant United States. The congressmen who gathered in the Pennsylvania State House readily perceived that the former British colonists, who had long adorned their lives with emblems of Hanoverian monarchy, required a new iconography with which to imagine a nation. They likewise understood that if the United States were, in the language of the Declaration, “to assume, among the powers of the earth, [a] separate and equal station,” the upstart Congress would first have to assume the trappings of a sovereign government. Yet, the American public did not passively accept Congress’s visions of nationhood. Rather, the people out of doors often rioted or staged richly demonstrative street protests in order to challenge the symbols and rituals by which Congress asserted authority.


Material Culture and Architecture Revolutionary and Early National

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