The origins of this book lie in encounters with Columbia as place in my younger days, bus rides through the Oblong country, Copake, Hillsdale, and into Egremont; driving west from Hancock down Mount Lebanon, through the New Lebanon Valley and along Kinderhook Creek over to Albany. They lie also with formal questions about my problem, the delicacy and endurance of the fabric of civil life that has been so apparent around the world in recent decades. It has been a long but very rewarding adventure.
The research and writing of this book have been supported variously by a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, a sabbatical at Tufts University, and the gen-erous quarter system schedule at Ohio State University. The College of Arts and Humanities at Ohio State University also provided important assistance in the publication of this book. I am extremely grateful to all of these institu-tions for their very generous support.
I owe many debts to many people whose assistance has shaped my efforts in many ways. First and foremost, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Ruth Piwonka, one of the great authorities on the history and culture of Columbia County and the surrounding region. I knew that we were on the same page from our first phone conversation. I let it be known that I was interested in the question of a revolutionary settlement in Columbia County. There was a long pause, and then she replied, “I don't think that there has ever been one.” From that moment through to my final inquiries Ruth has been an amazing resource and a great friend. I also owe a great debt to Helen McLallen, Peter Stott, Phil Lampi, Donald Lampson, and Thomas Humphrey. As curator of the Columbia County Historical Society, Helen answered a host of questions and sent me innumerable bundles of Xeroxes. Peter Stott suddenly popped up one day at Tufts and lent me his massive files of research on the rise of manu-facturing in Columbia County, the basis of his book, Looking for Work: Indus-trial Archaeology in Columbia County, New York (Kinderhook, N.Y., 2007). I first was in touch with Phil Lampi many years ago, and since then he has been sending me county and town election returns from what is now the Ameri-can Antiquarian Society / Tufts University New Nation Votes Project, and I have been able to reciprocate in a very small way. The late Donald Lampson (p.viii) was a specialist in the history of the Revolution in Columbia County, especially Livingston Manor, and he was kind enough to share with me his massive collection of transcribed materials. Tom Humphrey shared with me research notes from the early stages of his dissertation and impressed upon me the importance of the various collections of papers left behind by the William Wilson family, a lesson for which I am extremely grateful.
Tom Humphrey is the author of one of a group of dissertations that have guided me in the many complexities of the history of New York in the era of the Revolution and the early Republic. Tom's dissertation is now Land and Liberty: Hudson Valley Riots in the Age of Revolution (DeKalb, Ill., 2004). Other fine dissertations-become-books are Martin Bruegel, Farm, Shop, Landing: The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780–1860 (Durham, N.C., 2002); and David N. Gellman, Emancipating New York: The Poli-tics of Slavery and Freedom, 1777–1827 (Baton Rouge, La., 2006). I would like also to salute these exceptionally useful but as yet unpublished dissertations:Peter Van Ness Denman, “From Deference to Democracy: The Van Ness Family and Their Times, 1759 to 1844” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1977);John Robert Finnegan Jr.,, “Defamation, Politics, and the Social Process of the Law in New York State, 1776–1860” (Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1985); Michael Edward Groth, “Forging Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley: The End of Slavery and the Formation of a Free African-American Community in Dutchess, County, New York” (Ph.D. diss., SUNY Binghamton, 1994); Diane Helen Lobody, “Lost in the Ocean of Love: The Mysti-cal Writings of Catherine Livingston Garrettson” (Ph.D. diss., Drew University, 1990); Robert E. Wright, “Banking and Politics in New York, 1784–1829” (Ph.D. diss., SUNY Buffalo, 1996).
A host of scholars have answered my requests for help with evidence and in-terpretation over the years. I want to thank Stephanie Aeder, Catherine Allgor, Bliss and Brigitte Carnochan, Thomas Donnelly, Sally Fox, Jim Folts, Chris-tian Goodwillie, Bill Gorman, Jerry Grant, Graham Hodges, Nancy Isenberg, Sharon Koomler, Leonard A. Mancini, Will Moore, Dale Patterson, Judy Roe, Diane Shewchuk, David Stocks, Peter Watson, Patricia West, Richard Wiles, Barbara Willey, and Daniel Wright. The staffs at a wide array of institutions and libraries have been enormously helpful, including the Columbia County Clerk's Office, the New York State Archives, the New-York Historical So-ciety, the New York Public Library, the Clemens Library at the University of Michigan, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Livingston Ma-sonic Library at the New York Grand Lodge, the American Antiquarian So-ciety, the Library of Congress, the Butler Library at Columbia University, the Houghton Library at Harvard University, Bard College, the Hudson Chapter (p.ix) of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Park Service at Lindenwald, Stephentown Historical Society, Hancock Shaker Village, Old Chatham Shaker Museum, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village Library, the Emma Willard School, the Troy Public Library, the Rensselaer County His-torical Society, the Rochester Historical Society, the Tisch Library at Tufts University, and the hard-working interlibrary loan department at Ohio State University.
Beating the results of this research into a moderately intelligible form took a lot of work, and I could not do it all. In particular, I want to thank Hilary Moss, who read reels of microfilm for booksellers' advertisements and other details and then typed up virtually the entire 1800 county assessment list, a project upon which much of this interpretation hangs. Jieun Kang has pro-vided expert assistance in the final preparation of the manuscript.
This project has been tested in some measure in public, and I want to thank the participants at a number of seminars for their comments over the years: a panel at the Organization of American Historians, the American Antiquarian Society–Clark Seminar, the Davis Center Seminar, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Conference on Microhistory at the University of Connecticut, the Friends of Lindenwald Meeting, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Zuckerman Seminar, the University of Southern California–Huntington Seminar, the Ohio State University Po-litical Science Seminar, and the seminars at Northwestern University and the Johns Hopkins University. It has also been read in whole and part by a num-ber of extremely patient scholars, who have been so kind as to write me de-tailed comments: Paula Baker, Ronald Formisano, David Gellman, Catherine Kaplan, Don Lampson, Gerry Leonard, Michael Meranze, John Murrin, Michael Neblo, Ruth Piwonka, Andy Robertson, and Brother Alfred at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village. Peter Onuf and an anonymous historian read a version of the manuscript for the Institute; they were probably far too kind in their comments. I fear that I have not done justice to all of their excel-lent recommendations and critiques, but I am eternally grateful.
Ron Hoffman and Fredrika J. Teute long ago decided that this was a book for the Institute, and I salute their vision. Fredrika worked over the manu-script with her celebrated attention to detail, structure, and voice. During Fredrika's leave, Mendy Gladden fielded my inquiries with grand aplomb. In the final months of editing and production Gil Kelly and I held a virtual semi-nar on editing and the early Republic; we have learned a lot from each other as we engaged in a mutual passion, transforming a pile of manuscript into a co-herent volume. One phase of this was a four-way project. As Jim DeGrand of the Department of Geography at Ohio State drew up a beautiful set of maps, (p.x) 9780807833230, and Gil Kelly aesthetic control. It has been an amicable and fruitful experience.
As for the most important people in my life, Sara, Matt, and Benjy seem to get along just fine—strange to say—with nary a thought about the history of Columbia County. They are, however, in their own ways deeply interested in the ideals, the realities, and the entertaining vagaries of the modern public sphere. They continue to make life fun.