OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

Eliga H. Gould

Portrait of Eliga H. Gould

Eliga H. Gould is a professor and chair of the history department at the University of New Hampshire. His most recent book is Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (2012). Named a Library Journal best book of the year, it received the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Best Book Prize and was a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize. A Japanese-language edition was published in 2016. His current book project, "Crucible of Peace: The Treaty of Paris and the Founding of the American Republic," considers the least examined of the nation's founding documents.

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

To most Americans, the Revolution’s main significance lies in its impact on the internal structure of the thirteen colonies that became the United States. Yet the American Revolution was also an international transformation of the first importance, both for Britain and the British Empire, and for Western Europe, West Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. These wider, trans-Atlantic ramifications are the subject of this talk. Topics will include European involvement in the Revolutionary War, the Revolution’s impact on African American slavery and the slave trade, and its implications for Latin American independence. I will also discuss the United States’s origins as a confederation of sovereign states, whose relations with each other were often as fluid and contested as relations between the Federal government and foreign countries in Europe and, eventually, the Americas.
Crucible of Peace is about the least-studied of the United States' founding documents: The Treaty of Paris (1783) that ended the American Revolutionary War. At the center of this story is a tension common to all treaties: between the terms imposed by treaty makers and the wishes of the people whom the treaty purported to bind. In 1783, this tension assumed particular urgency because the peace treaty was a treaty of partition that drew new, sometimes arbitrary lines through what had been unified British territory. The resulting upheaval produced two legacies. On one hand, it showed that the United States was a nation bound by the law of nations from the start. But Americans acquired a strong distrust of the treaty-making process. That legacy is with the republic to this day.
What does it mean to be a treaty-worthy nation? No question mattered more to Americans in 1776. This lecture will discuss the manifold ways in which quest for international recognition shaped the United States' early history -- from the drafting of the Constitution, to relations between settlers and Indians, to the looming debate over slavery.