Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I have been writing on Mitchell's undermining of patriarchy in his text by use of themes of American nationalism, medical practice, reason and duty, religion, marriage, family structure, gender roles, and nature, yet I branched into using Mitchell's political publishing history and the backdrop of the American Revolution to further the patriarchal themes and his subversion of them. The following are some musings so far.

Mitchell was largely involved in the writing, editing, publishing, and distribution of anti-patriarchal Republican texts. American Farmer and Dutchess County Advertiser, which Mitchell edited, was published weekly in Poughkeepsie from June 8, 1798 to July 22, 1800 . The Guardian was published weekly in Poughkeepsie, New York from 1807-1808. Upon Mitchell’s purchase of the paper he renamed it Political Barometer and edited and published it weekly from June 8, 1802 to Aug. 21, 1811. The Asylum first appeared in print in this publication under the title of Alonso and Melissa. Mitchell’s name also appears in some publications of Republican Crisis of Albany and Saratoga, New York, Plebean (Plebeans are middle or lower class people. Pleb was a derogatory English term for someone thought of as inferior, common or ignorant.) of Kingston, New York, and as editor of Republican Herald of Poughkeepsie, New York weekly from 1808-1811. While the even the most telling of sources, the American Antiquarian Society, was only able to afford the previous information, the names alone of each publication are telling enough to show Mitchell’s political perspectives as a Jeffersonian Republican. The Federalist Party (1792-1816) was popular with New England businessmen who distrusted the public, were undemocratic, and favored factories, a national bank, trade, and a strong central government. The Democratic-Republican Party (1792-1824) was popular with farmers who favored state-run government, agriculture over trade, and distrusted British patriarchy.

Not by accident is the story of Alonzo and Melissa set against the background of the American Revolution. As their wedding day approaches and preparations are beginning, so is the American Revolution firing up. Alonzo expects his services to be needed and hastens the nuptial day, yet because of the British impounding of his father’s ships he does not enlist in the Revolution. He does, however, play out a revolution of his own against Melissa’s tyrannical, unfeeling father. In the text, Colonel Bloomsfield and the Baron represent the patriarchy of the British Empire attempting to control the welfare of the independent United States, Melissa and Selina. Contextually during its writing and publication, Colonel Bloomsfield represents the patriarchal Federalists who are steadily loosing control to the patriarchal-opposing Democratic-Republicans.


ash said...

Click on the picture to enlarge it. It is a Federalist poster from around 1800. Washington (in heaven) tells partisans to keep the pillars of Federalism, Republicanism and Democracy.