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Response to Review of The Anglo-American Paper War: Debates about the New Republic, 1800–1825

I am very thankful of Dr. Thomas Rodger’s lucid and lengthy review of my The Anglo-American Paper War: Debates about the New Republic, 1800–1825. Rodgers has provided a clear analysis of the book for potential readers and insightful critique of what he sees to be limitations of my work. For Rodger’s clear summary of my sections on the importance of slavery and the debate over American cultural inferiority – the core debates of my work – I am especially grateful.

As I read it, Rodger’s primary criticism finds that I could have concentrated on giving my work more of an Atlantic World framework, including wider connections with Canada and the Caribbean. While I do compare the United States and Canada in my first chapter, Rodger’s criticism is noted with appreciation. Especially when discussing the post-War of 1812 American frustrations over America’s continuing dependence upon the British Empire, I could have provided a more explicitly Atlantic (and not just bi-national) framework. In my defense, I found that my primary sources ordinarily focused on matters of book culture and race (American slavery).

Rodgers also notes that, ‘Eaton lends, perhaps, a little more weight to the pessimistic view, both of the time and in the historiography, that the United States had still not achieved its full cultural independence from Britain’. As to the charge of taking a pessimistic view of the autonomy of early 19th-century American culture, I emphatically plead guilty. It is within the growing historiography of the US’s complicated relationship with relationship with Great Britain – an ‘unfinished revolution’ as Sam Haynes has called it – that one can best understand the dozens of bitter polemics that I describe in The Anglo-American Paper War. Beneath the overt Americanism and Anglophobia of America’s paper soldiers – mostly forgotten literary heroes such as Robert Walsh, Charles Jared Ingersoll, John Neal, James Kirk Paulding and Charles Brockden Brown – were continuing concerns regarding the United States’ continued dependence upon Britain.

Again, with gratitude, I thank Dr. Rodgers for his careful study of my book.