NEH banner [Return to Query]

Products for grant FT-255126-17

The Life of Bartholomew Fenton: A Story of Revolution, Transformation, and Violence in Early America
Honor Sachs, Regents of the University of Colorado, Boulder

Grant details:

The Servant, the Soldier, and the Slaveholder: Race, Violence, and Manhood in Eighteenth-Century Border War (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Servant, the Soldier, and the Slaveholder: Race, Violence, and Manhood in Eighteenth-Century Border War
Author: Honor Sachs
Abstract: This paper tells the story of a man named Bartholomew Fenton (the subject of my next book) and explores the relationships between militia service, racial violence, and republican manhood during the American Revolution. In 1770, Fenton was a convict servant in Virginia, exiled from London for the crime of petty theft. By the outbreak of the American Revolution, Fenton had made his way to the contested territory of Kentucky. He mustered in the frontier militia during the war, fighting in the intense violence of 1777 and participating in the emergence of a discourse of “Indian hating” that would shape the intensity of western warfare. Fenton’s service earned him a land claim in Kentucky. He established himself as a freeholder in the new American republic and eventually purchased two female slaves. In 1792, Fenton was arrested for brutally beating one of these slave women to death. After he was arrested and tried, a jury acquitted him of all charges. Through Fenton’s story, we witness an ordinary man’s passage from colonial servant to republican citizen and gain intimate perspective on the role that racialized violence played in this transformation. Once a dependent servant with a criminal past, Fenton was reborn in frontier war as a man of status and privilege in a republic that shrouded its fetish for racial difference with the language of human equality. Crucial to that rebirth was a shifting understanding of what constituted legitimate violence and who possessed the right to wield it. In the context of the revolution, Fenton acquired a new and special destiny as a white male citizen of the American republic, an identity that was rooted in landed status, forged in the cauldron of Indian war, and secured in violent mastery over slave property.
Date: 11/3/17

Crime and Punishment in the Atlantic World (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: Crime and Punishment in the Atlantic World
Author: Honor Sachs
Abstract: Course in development
Year: 2017
Audience: Undergraduate