Jeremy Belknap’s History of New Hampshire in Context: Settler Colonialism and the Historiography of New England

In: Journal of Early American History
Agnès Delahaye Université de Lyon 2,

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This essay is a contextual analysis of the History of New Hampshire (1784–1792) by Jeremy Belknap, founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society. I situate Belknap’s historical and institutional achievements within the framework of settler colonialism studies to argue that Belknap used his profound knowledge of previous New England historiography to write a settler history of American colonization—a narrative of expansionist settlement over indigenous land sustained by cultural, political, racial and social norms at the root of its enduring success. Belknap’s settler history effectively negated both British and indigenous sovereignty and shifted the historical focus prevalent in his time away from the empire and onto the specific, and in his mind, unique, story of the violent formation of white, self-governing and autonomous expansionist settler societies that he believed were the real locus of American identity.

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