New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America | The New Map of Empire: How Britain Imagined America before Independence | Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write, and Think about History | Avenging the People: Andrew Jackson, the Rule of Law, and the American Nation | Bind Us Apart | Elusive Alliance | Shadows at Dawn
Why did Elizabethan adventurers believe that the interior of America hid vast caches of gold? Who started the rumor that British officers purchased revolutionary white womenâs scalps, packed them by the bale, and shipped them to their superiors? And why are people today still convinced that white settlersâhardly immune as a group to the diseaseâroutinely distributed smallpox-tainted blankets to the natives?
Rumorâspread by colonists and Native Americans alikeâran rampant in early America. In Groundless, historian Gregory Evans Dowd explores why half-truths, deliberate lies, and outrageous legends emerged in the first place, how they grew, and why they were given such credence throughout the New World. Arguing that rumors are part of the objective reality left to us by the pastâa kind of fragmentary archival recordâhe examines how uncertain news became powerful enough to cascade through the centuries.
Drawing on specific case studies and tracing recurring rumors over many generations, Dowd explains the seductive power of unreliable stories in the eastern North American frontiers from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. The rumors studied hereâsome alluring, some frighteningâcommanded attention and demanded action. They were all, by definition, groundless, but they were not all false, and they influenced the classic issues of historical inquiry: the formation of alliances, the making of revolutions, the expropriation of labor and resources, and the origins of war.
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