Figs. 9 and 10. This California ballot for the 1864 presidential election depicts a famous sea battle off the coast of Cherbourg, France, in June 1864, a Union victory by the sloop-of-war Kearsarge against the Confederate merchant-raider Alabama. Images of this battle had been made famous in widely circulated newspaper etchings, amateur sketches, and lithographic prints, as well as in paintings by Edouard Manet and others. Somewhat chilling here are the bobbing Confederate sailors, especially in light of Confederate claims (disputed by the Union) that the Kearsarge had been purposely slow to pick them up. The British yacht the Deerhound, at the center, along with French boats, helped to rescue them. Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Click to enlarge in a new window.


Welcome to Commonplace, a destination for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit less formal than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Commonplace speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900. It is for all sorts of people to read about all sorts of things relating to early American life—from architecture to literature, from politics to parlor manners. It’s a place to find insightful analysis of early American history as it is discussed in scholarly literature, as it manifests on the evening news, as it is curated in museums, big and small; as it is performed in documentary and dramatic films and as it shows up in everyday life.

In addition to critical evaluations of books and websites (Reviews) and poetic research and fiction (Creative Writing), our articles explore material and visual culture (Objects); pedagogy, the writing of literary scholarship, and the historian’s craft (Teach); and diverse aspects of America’s past and its many peoples (Learn). For more great content, check out our other projects, (Just Teach One) and (Just Teach One African American Print).


How to cite Commonplace articles:

Author, “Title of Article,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, date accessed, URL.

Sophie White, “Trading Looks Race, Religion and Dress in French America,” Commonplace: the journal of early American life, accessed September 30, 2019, https://commonplace.online/article/trading-looks-race-religion-dress-french-america/


Joshua R. Greenberg, editor


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