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Past and ProloguePolitics and Memory in the American Revolution$
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Michael D. Hattem

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300234961

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300234961.001.0001

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Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation

Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation

(p.210) Chapter Six Creating a Deep Past for a New Nation
Past and Prologue

Michael D. Hattem

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the ways in which Americans sought, created, and promoted a “deep national past,” or American antiquity, for the new republic. The first half of the chapter explores how the use of Columbian, biblical, and epic symbolism all contributed to Americans’ sense of a past deeper even than that of the colonial period. The second half of the chapter explores the nationalization of both natural history and the indigenous pasts of Native Americans and their expression in the nation’s first natural history museums. The creation of a deep past grounded both in myth and the land was—like the simultaneously reimagined colonial past—part of a broader attempt to establish cultural independence from Britain, in this case by fostering a sense of national origins that transcended British imperialism and the British past altogether.

Keywords:   historical memory, early republic, American Revolution, nationalism, identity, political culture, museums, Native Americans

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