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Mandy Cooper at TLHS, Friday, April 21

The next meeting of the Triangle Legal History Seminar will be this Friday, April 21, at the National Humanities Center from 4-6 pm.  Our presenter will be Mandy Cooper, PhD Candidate in History at Duke University.

Her paper is entitled "The Family State: Family Credit and the Public Good in the Antebellum U.S.":

What you'll be reading is the fourth chapter of my dissertation. My dissertation as a whole uses emotions as a lens to examine the economic and political work done by elite families in building the U.S. in the decades between the Revolution and the Civil War. I focus on two large family networks - the Coles and the Camerons - which were centered in the South, spread across the U.S., and extended across the Atlantic. My introduction will have the main historiographical points as well as introduce the different individuals in these large families. Since there won't be much background on many of the individuals in this chapter, I've included the attached family trees and charts to help you get a better sense of the relationships. The first chapter looks at affective labor (work related to the presence and performance of emotion) in familial correspondence and argues that such affective labor, which was gendered female, worked to extend and maintain the family ties necessary to conduct business and political endeavors. The first chapter examines the image created by such affective labor in correspondence of a happy, united, and affectionate family. The second chapter looks at the business side of those family networks, examining business culture and the affective labor that ensured trust and credit within business networks before turning to look at the actual economic actions and transactions within the networks to reveal the webs of credit and debt that sustained elite families. I argue that such actions reveal that family was central to business in this period, bringing the economic realm into the domestic realm. The third chapter looks at the political work of such families, including the use of the term public servant to describe political work. Essentially, I argue that by conceptualizing themselves as public servants, men cast themselves in positions of servitude, working for the good of the public. The last chapter examines the effect of violence on this conceptualization of nation as family that I examine in the chapter you'll be reading – a conceptualization that couldn't handle conflict of any kind and that they were forced to rethink as sectional tensions grew. 

Please find the paper here.  Contact Ashton Merck if you have questions or need access to the paper.

We look forward to seeing you on Friday!


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