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The American Plutarch

Jeremy Belknap and the Historian's Dialogue with the Past

by Russell M. Lawson

 

An unconventional portrait of the life and thought of an Enlightenment historian and scientist, this study focuses upon Jeremy Belknap's letters, journals, and essays, which provide a clear sense of how a dialogue with the past can yield an appreciation of life and acceptance of self.

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August 1998

Praeger

Pages 184
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/General

Creating an unconventional portrait of the life and thought of an Enlightenment historian and scientist, this study focuses upon Jeremy Belknap's letters, journals, and essays, which provide a clear sense of how a dialogue with the past can yield an appreciation of life and acceptance of self. Author of the three volume History of New Hampshire and the two volume American Biography, Jeremy Belknap (1744-1798) was the American Plutarch because he used the past to learn more about his own life and the lives of others. He experienced the past vicariously through his imagination and experientially through his journeys throughout New England in search of clues to the explanation of the natural and human past of America.

The book is built around Belknap's engaging correspondence with his friend Ebenezer Hazard, as well as Belknap's own travel journals of his expeditions to upstate New York and throughout New Hampshire. His journey to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in 1784 was the climax of his active inquiry into the past. Far from a dry, historiographical account, this study provides a fluid and descriptive narrative of Belknap, his journeys, and his times. This is a unique portrayal of human nature in general and 18th century society in particular.

Table of Contents

IntroductionThe Life of a CabbageFellow Travelers into the PastA Religious Dialogue with the PastThe View from AgamenticusEssays on ManJourney into the WildernessElder ScriptureA Conservative View of HistoryThe American PlutarchAdmonition from the PastEpilogueAppendixAbbreviationsNotesSelected BibliographyIndex

Reviews/Endorsements

Reviews

The author provides a solid discussion of his subject's intellectual world and gives an interesting account of the late 18th century New Hamshire frontier. His description of the visit to Mt. Wasington and the region is espcially good. General readers interested in late 18th century New Hampshire or some aspects of Belknap's life will find this useful.—Choice

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