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John Laurance
John Laurance: The Immigrant Founding Father America Never Knew

This long overdue biography of English-born New York lawyer John Laurance (1760-1810) restores an important missing piece to the founding narrative. With verve and sweep, Keith Marshall Jones III lays bare the middling Cornish émigré’s passage to Federalist America’s governing inner circle. Essential to the telling are five wartime years as General George Washington’s “courtroom Baron von Steuben” and battlefield father of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Corps. Laurance spoke as New York City’s post-war pro-mercantile voice in the Confederation Congress, state legislature, and both houses of the fledgling federal Congress.

Keith Marshall Jones III is a direct descendant of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. He is the author of Congress As My Government(2008), the definitive account of Marshall’s military service in the War for Independence; Farmers Against the Crown (2002, 2014); and The Farms of Farmingville (2001). His 2017 article “John Laurance and the Role of Military Justice at Valley Forge” in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography introduced the forgotten immigrant New York lawyer to scholars and period history buffs.

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Art, Science, Invention
Art, Science, Invention: Conservation and the Peale-Sellers Family

The Peale-Sellers Family Collection, held at the APS Library, is the world’s largest archival collection related to the Peales. Two recent American Philosophical Society Museum exhibitions, Curious Revolutionaries and Conservation and the Peale-Sellers Family Collection, included selected items from the collection. The conservation staff reviewed the selected items to ensure that they were stable enough to display for months without fading, discoloring, or suffering physical damage. When books or manuscripts could not be exhibited without conservation treatment, conservators repaired or stabilized them. Conservation of objects and material is essential today, as it was for Charles Willson Peale when he opened his museum in Philosophical Hall. Renée Wolcott tells readers in her introduction, “As the owner of the nation’s first natural history museum, Charles Willson Peale served as both curator and conservator, concerned with selecting specimens for exhibition and preserving them for future museum visitors. He was also his own archivist, saving letters, diaries, and museum records that passed through his family for generations before becoming enshrined in the APS Library. This book examines the materials Peale and his family have left us, considers their preservation challenges, and discusses the evolution of conservation care for archival collections. Case studies of conservation treatment for six historic Peale-related artifacts illustrate some of the ways in which today’s conservators preserve the materials of the past for the sake of the future.”

Renée Wolcott is Associate Conservator for Library and Archival Materials at the American Philosophical Society. She graduated from the Winterthur-University of Delaware Master’s Program in Art Conservation in 2011. Prior to joining the APS, Renée worked as a book conservator at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts. She also taught an undergraduate class in book history and conservation at the University of Delaware.

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A More Perfect Union:Essays on the Constitution_Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 1987
A More Perfect Union:Essays on the Constitution_Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 1987
In commemoration of the 275th anniversary of the American Philosophical Society, this monograph is a reprint of articles from a symposium marking the 1987 bicentennial of the United States Constitution. Added to the collection is a significant and educational foreword by Laurence H. Tribe (Member of the American Philosophical Society, Class III, elected 2010), Carl M. Loeb University Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. Also included is a transcript of Professor Tribe's Commencement Address delivered on May 17, 1987, at the American University Washington College of Law Commencement at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC (published in 37 American University Law Review1; reprinted with permission). more info

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Jean-François de Bourgoing’s Grand Mémoire on the War of American Independence (an unpublished manuscript written 1777–1783), two-volume set
Jean-François de Bourgoing’s Grand Mémoire on the War of American Independence (an unpublished manuscript written 1777–1783), two-volume set

Between 1777 and 1783, Jean-François de Bourgoing served at the Court of Spain as France’s military attaché and principal assistant to the French ambassador. Bourgoing was a French patriot and a friend of Spain. From his unique vantage point he recorded events related to the War of American Independence as they occurred, creating Le Grand Mémoire.

The French and the Americans hoped that Spain would recognize the independence of the United States and enter the war as their ally. Instead, Spain entered the war against England only as France’s ally stipulating that France would help her recover some of her lost possessions. Until the summer of 1781, France continued to try in vain to persuade Spain to join the Franco-American alliance. But the Spanish remained convinced that supporting the independence of the United States would be detrimental to her interest and actively opposed the independence of the United States by attempting to obtain through extensive mediation with England “something less than full independence,” by advocating minimal aid to the Insurgents only “to keep the war going,” and by attempting to change France’s strategy. In 1780 Floridablanca tried very hard to prevent France from sending the Rochambeau expeditionary corps to help Washington.

All the while Spain demanded French naval support and land troops for all her significant operations while refusing to participate in French operations. The French diplomats in Madrid thought that France’s alliance with Spain was counterproductive and harmful to French relations with Americans.

The Grand Mémoire is essential to fully understand not only inter-ally relations but also the effects of the war on France, spectator countries, and individuals who played essential roles in the war: Charles III, Floridablanca, Aranda, John Jay, Louis XVI, Vergennes, Montmorin, d’Estaing and Castries.

Jean-Pierre Cap is the Oliver Edwin Williams Professor Emeritus of Languages at Lafayette College.

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Other Presidency: Thomas Jefferson
The Other Presidency: Thomas Jefferson & The American Philosophical Society
The Other Presidency: Thomas Jefferson and the American Philosophical Society, by Patrick Spero, With research assistance by Abigail Shelton and John Kenney.
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The Cabinetmaker’s Account
The Cabinetmaker’s Account: John Head’s Record of Craft and Commerce in Colonial Philadelphia, 1718-1753 (Memoir 271)
English joiner John Head (1688–1754) immigrated to Philadelphia in 1717 and became one of its most successful artisans and merchants. However, his prominence was lost to history until the discovery of his account book at the Library of the American Philosophical Society. more info

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The Cuneiform Uranology Texts
The Cuneiform Uranology Texts: Drawing the Constellations: Transactions, APS (Vol. 107, Part 2)
This book presents a newly recovered group of cuneiform texts from
first millennium Babylonia and Assyria that provide prose descriptions
of the drawing (eseru) of Mesopotamian constellations. The group
describes
these constellations in terms of their parts: body parts for
constellations in human or animal form, parts of a wagon for “The Wagon”
and “The Wagon of Heaven” (the Big and Little Dipper), and so forth.
The descriptions also typically speak of the clothing
that constellations in human form wear, their beards if they are male,
and paraphernalia that they hold or carry. In the case of “The Crab” and
“The Wagon,” there is also reference to the Babylonian geometric shape
apsamakku, a four-sided figure. Illustrations.
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Tower of the Winds in Athens
The Tower of the Winds in Athens: Greeks, Romans, Christians, and Muslims: Two Millennia of Continual Use: Memoirs, APS (Vol. 270)
The Tower of the Winds has stood in the shadow of the Acropolis in
Athens for more than 2,100 years. This tall octagonal building, one of
the best preserved monuments from the classical period, was built by the
architect-astronomer Andronikos of Kyrrhos
as a horologion for keeping time. Almost all its features have been
attributed to the period of construction by the Greeks or renovations
made by the Romans. The building, however, was in use almost
continuously for two millennia, which includes Byzantine
and Ottoman phases. Pamela Webb, a classical archaeologist, examines
the Tower throughout its entire functional existence. A series of
appendices helps to put the Tower in broader context for the
post-classical periods. Winner of the 2016 John Frederick Lewis
Award. Illus.
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Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in Tongues: APS, Transactions (Vol. 106, Part 4) 2016
Raised in a Lebanese mountain village, Fedwa Malti-Douglas came to America at the age of 13. After a rich academic career, Professor Malti-Douglas turned her attention to other muses, publishing a novel (Hisland, SUNY Press) in 1998, and poetry (including a chapbook of visual poetry). Fedwa’s honors include the 1997 Kuwait Prize in Arts and letters, and the National Humanities Medal for 2014, presented in 2015 by President Barack Obama. This volume tells the story of a family torn apart by divorce, death, and exile, and reunited by an inherited form of muscular dystrophy. It has been praised as “a memoir of unpitying clarity,” “deeply moving and arresting,” which “crosses landscapes of sadness, of happiness, of pain and peace, of alienation and acceptance, toward a healing enlargement of the soul.” Color photos. more info

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Citizenship and the American Revolution
Citizenship and the American Revolution: A Resolute Tory’s Abiding Status APS (Vol. 106, Part 3)
When did a person living in one of the rebellious colonies cease to be the subject of George III and become a citizen of a newly constituted American state? Well into the 19th cent., uncertainty persisted regarding citizenship acquired (or lost) during the Revolution. Turning to original sources, Maxey brings into clear focus a family dispute over inheritance rights and the task the Supreme Court faced in determining the status of Daniel Coxe -- either as a citizen of New Jersey entitled to inherit, or as an alien barred from doing so. Having heard the arguments on two separate occasions, the Supreme Court announced its decision in 1808. Twenty years later, the Court measurably diverged from the rationale supporting that decision. Illus. more info

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