Jefferson’s plantation and the foodstuffs he cultivated are discussed in detail in chapter 1. For an extensive account of the Newtown Pippin, see Hatch, The Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello, 70–73.
Fraunces’s biography, while outside the scope of this project, is also fascinating. He is most widely remembered as the owner/operator of Fraunces Tavern in New York during the Revolutionary War—the site, in fact, where Washington said farewell to his troops upon the conclusion of the war. Fraunces’s personal history has also been a continued subject of interest. His nickname, “Black Sam,” has suggested to some—including W. E. B. Du Bois—that Fraunces might have a mixed-race background worthy of additional investigation; he was likely born somewhere in the West Indies, lending some credence to that theory. But as other scholars have observed, that moniker was also often bestowed on white men with dark complexions, so it provides no conclusive evidence. In addition, Fraunces himself enslaved people; the 1790 census lists one enslaved person (no name or gender provided) as living in his house. See Blockson, “Black Samuel Fraunces.”
Much has been written on the concept of “republican ideals” and the ideology of republicanism more generally. For two early theorizations, still referenced today, see Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787. For an early account of the concept’s scholarly use, see Shalhope, “Toward a Republican Synthesis.” Rodgers, in “Republicanism,” provides a relatively more recent historiographic assessment. As a recent example of how republicanism is discussed in relation to early American literature, see Drexler and White, “Secret Witness.”
While I am hesitant to reinforce the narrative that credits these men, and these men alone, as responsible for providing the nation’s intellectual foundation, I recognize that the term “founders” provides a useful and legible shorthand for referring to this group of figures. With my use of the term in quotation marks, I intend to designate both the group of men it commonly includes, as well as the common—and eminently valid—critique of its basis.
Korsmeyer, in Making Sense of Taste, provides the most thorough overview of the discourse of taste from a philosophical perspective. Gigante’s Taste is responsible for introducing that discourse to literary scholars through an analysis of British literary texts ranging from Milton to the Romantic poets.
Here and throughout this book, I attempt to be precise in my use of the terms “United States” and “America.” In general, I employ the term “United States” to refer to the country and to the archive that documents its foundation. When I employ the term “America,” it is intended to indicate a broader temporal and/or geographic scope—the latter not necessarily limited to the North American continent. See Gruesz, “America.”
The source for this description is a 1795 letter from Theophilus Bradbury, a one-term Massachusetts congressman, to his daughter, Harriet Hooper, which documents the “elegant variety of roast beef, veal, turkey, ducks, fowls, hams, &c; puddings, jellies, oranges, apples, nuts, almonds, figs, raisins, and a variety of wines and punches” that was served at one of Washington’s weekly congressional dinners (qtd. in Adrian Miller, President’s Kitchen Cabinet, 64).
In fact, it was not until 2009, when Mary V. Thompson, a historian at Mount Vernon, discovered a reference to Hercules’s escape in one of Washington’s weekly farm reports, that the date and circumstances of his escape were confirmed. For a summary of all that is currently known, see LaBan, “A Birthday Shock from Washington’s Chef.”
Gikandi, in Slavery and the Culture of Taste, has also done much to confirm the contributions of enslaved workers of African descent, in locations ranging from England to the Caribbean to the United States, to the dominant discourse of taste. Other works, referenced throughout this book, focus on the specifically culinary contributions of enslaved field hands and kitchen workers of African descent that were registered throughout the Atlantic world, although few of these studies connect these contributions to the discourse of taste.
Here I also build on a substantial body of work that has come up through the field of food studies, especially the scholarship that has focused on the Caribbean. See, for instance, Loichot, The Tropics Bite Back, and Simek, Hunger and Irony in the French Caribbean. In a colonial context, see Morton, Cultures of Taste/Theories of Appetite, along with his other works. In a modern European context, see Novero, Antidiets of the Avant-Garde, among others.
The scholarship on the imbrications of food and culture is vast. In addition to Bourdieu’s Distinction, cited later in this chapter, Douglass, in Purity and Danger, pioneered this work. In a U.S. context, groundbreaking studies include Counihan, Food in the USA; Levenstein, Revolution at the Table; and Mintz, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom. Mintz’s Sweetness and Power, discussed in depth in chapter 2, also bears mention here for how it models scholarship that connects issues of food to issues of politics.
Issues of periodization in this project are complex. Among the primary audiences of this book are scholars of early American literature—a period that is generally thought to conclude by the early years of the Jacksonian era. But because the discourse of taste, which is primarily associated with the eighteenth century, took decades to travel to the United States, and longer still to proliferate—as will be discussed more fully below—the project focuses on texts from the tail end of the “early” American literary period, and includes some texts emphatically associated with the nineteenth century—a distinct scholarly field. Even as the scope of the texts under analysis extends into the antebellum era, I attempt to retain my central focus on the issues and concerns associated with early American literary scholarship, as I indicate above.
Parrish’s primary focus, in this piece and in her work more generally, is on the biotic archives of the Columbian exchange. See Parrish, American Curiosity.
Margaret Cockburn Conkling (1814–90) was the author of thirteen books across a variety of genres, including fiction and biography, as well as conduct manuals. She was the daughter of a New York congressman; her two brothers also served in Congress. An obituary in Publishers Weekly credits her as “contribut[ing] often to current literature,” although scant biographical details are known (“Obituary”).
See Shields, Southern Provisions, for a polemical account of the meaning (and taste) that inheres in food.
See, for instance, Carney, Black Rice. Note, also, that Shields positions his study, which centers on the literal revitalization of historical foods, against projects such as Carney’s that posit the “value of a cultivar or a dish” as residing “in its being a heritage marker, a survival from an originating culture previous to its uses in southern planting and cooking” (11). Shields also cites work by Gary Nabham and Karen Hess, in addition to Harris, High on the Hog.
See, for instance, Harris, High on the Hog. For a book that considers the more contemporary implications of this passage of foodstuffs, see Witt, Black Hunger.
On the multiple valences of consumption, see bell hooks, “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance,” in Black Looks, 21–41; Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Racial Indigestion; Githire, Cannibal Writes; and Zafar, Recipes for Respect.
For an assessment of these challenges from the perspective of a historian, see Haley, “The Nation before Taste.”
In so doing, I place this study in the line of works prompted by Kyla Wazana Tompkins’s call, in Racial Indigestion, to “shift to a framework we might call critical eating studies,” characterized by a “critique of the political beliefs and structures that underlie eating as a social practice” (2).
Critiques of brain-imaging studies center on the notion that visual similarity does not equate to cognitive sameness, even if that is what the images suggest. For this reason, I limit my claim to the visual similarity between these two activities, and direct interested readers to consult the paper referenced in Kobayashi et al. “Functional Imaging of Gustatory Perception and Imagery.”
See, for instance, Dickie, The Century of Taste. Korsmeyer, in Making Sense of Taste, confirms that the eighteenth century was the time when “the sense of taste [stood] right next to aesthetic Taste in philosophical writings” (40).
Korsmeyer summarizes: “In Baumgarten’s 1750 work, Aesthetica, the term ‘aesthetic’ became particularly associated with beauty. In the Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant used ‘aesthetic’ to refer to sense perception; in the Critique of Judgment (1790) he employed it to refer to judgments of Taste, or the judgment that something is beautiful. The term ‘aesthetic’ was not used in English until the nineteenth century” (Making Sense of Taste, 42n10).
Scholars generally credit the work of Kant and Schiller, published in the 1790s, as the impetus for the term’s more widespread adoption. See Korsmeyer, Making Sense of Taste, 54–60.
Joseph Addison, in his influential 1712 essay “On Taste,” makes the case most clearly: “We may be sure this metaphor would not have been so general in all tongues had there not been a very great conformity between that mental taste which is the subject of this paper and that sensitive taste which gives us a relish of every different flavor that affects the palate” (qtd. in Mackie, The Commerce of Everyday Life, 383).
In this regard, the two-phase structure of the process of passing judgment closely adheres to the Lockean model of knowledge acquisition. But the taste philosophers extended Locke’s original theory by emphasizing, first, the existence of an inner sense that guided individuals in their aesthetic judgments and, second, the fact that this sense—what they called the sense of taste—could be cultivated and refined.
For more on the philosophical basis of “civic virtue,” see Shields, Civil Tongues and Polite Letters in British America; and Dillon, “Sentimental Aesthetics.”
See Dillon, “Sentimental Aesthetics,” and Cahill, Liberty of the Imagination, for more extended discussions of this relationship. Scholars of Enlightenment philosophy will also note that here and throughout the book I separate the discourse of taste from the discourse of sensibility. This is to retain a sharp focus on food and eating, which is central to the discourse of taste but peripheral to the larger discourse of sensibility. For a recent survey of this discourse as it relates to ideas about embodiment, see Lloyd, The Discourse of Sensibility.
Although Franklin attributes this “Position” to Kames, most scholars view Kames’s moral philosophy as derivative of Hume’s more rigorous theory. See Korsmeyer, Making Sense of Taste, as well as Dickie, The Century of Taste.
Wills, in Inventing America, provides a helpful overview of Scottish Enlightenment philosophy in relation to civic virtue. See note 28 for how literary scholars have incorporated this discourse into their work.
See Adrian Miller, President’s Kitchen Cabinet, as well as DeWitt, Founding Foodies.
To be sure, there is more historical work that can be done. Dunbar’s recent study, Never Caught, demonstrates how a compelling and informative narrative can be assembled from these scant sources. For additional information about the other enslaved residents of the President’s House, see “Enslaved Persons of African Descent in the President’s House.”
Other influential theorists along these lines include Stoller, in Along the Archival Grain, and Best and Marcus, in “Surface Reading.” The latter is discussed in detail in chapter 5. The reference to the “ghostly lives” of the enslaved is at once to Gordon’s, Ghostly Matters, and Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death.
For a thorough accounting of how power shapes the telling of history, see Trouillot, Silencing the Past.
For an account of the painting’s deauthentication, see LaBan, “George Washington’s Enslaved Chef” and “Behind the Story.”
Historian Norman Risjord has gone so far as to suggest an interpretive compromise: “Either that the dinner Jefferson recalled took place earlier than anyone has supposed or that there was more than one political dinner. Or maybe both” (“The Compromise of 1790,” 310).
On the notion of “republican ideals,” see note 3 in the Introduction.
For a detailed account of the emergence of the French notion of bon goût and its relation to that country’s larger food culture, see Spang, The Invention of the Restaurant. For a consideration of how French taste spread abroad, see Ferguson, Accounting for Taste. For an examination of the French Revolution in relation to the rise of modern French cuisine, see Pinkard, A Revolution in Taste. For an account of the United States’ “culinary declaration of independence,” as he terms it, see James McWilliams, A Revolution in Eating. For a consideration of how the next generation of writers, such as James Fenimore Cooper, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, and Lydia Maria Child, would imbue specific foods with republican significance, see Mark McWilliams, “Distant Tables.” For a treatment of food and its significance in the earlier era of British America, see Eden, The Early American Table.
In the letter, penned to Nicholas Lewis, the friend whom Jefferson tasked (along with Francis Eppes) with running his Virginia plantation while he served in France, he describes growing “Indian corn . . . to eat green in our manner.” In the same letter he also requests that Lewis send him “an ear of two of the drying corn from the Cherokee country, some best watermelon seeds, some fine Cantaloupe melon seeds, seeds of the common sweet potato . . . , an hundred or two acorns of the willow oak and about a peck of acorns of the ground oak or dwarf oak.” He further notes a former failed “attempt to send bacon hams,” but remains undaunted: “I should think Mr. Donald could get them to me safely. A dozen or two would last me a year, would be better than any to be had on this side the Atlantic, which, inferior as they are, cost about a guinea apiece” (Jefferson, Papers, 12:135). In addition to letters like these, of which there are many, Jefferson also maintained formal journals, known as the Garden and Farm Books, for a large part of his life. These books date from 1766 to 1824 and contain detailed records of his many agricultural experiments at Monticello. Among his most successful experiments were the French fig and the Spanish almond. For a more detailed account of these journals, see Baron’s introduction to Jefferson, The Garden and Farm Books of Thomas Jefferson.
As president, Jefferson would make waves across the Atlantic when he insisted on this style of seating at the dinner to welcome the British foreign minister, Anthony Merry. This “implementation of the ideals of republican egalitarianism,” as Stagg explains in his introduction, was perceived as a personal affront, and it was compounded by Merry’s subsequent experiences at Jefferson’s distinctive table (Madison, Papers, Secretary of State Series, 6:xxvii).
This description of Jefferson’s table is attributed to Daniel Webster, the Massachusetts senator, himself a great gastronome. For more on Webster’s table, and his acclaimed cook Monica McCarty, see Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, A Slave in the White House, 144–58. It should also be noted that James Madison, while less known for his deliberate dining, also adhered to Jefferson’s (and Webster’s) view. In A Revolution in Eating, James McWilliams relates one anecdote of a meal served in Madison home: when Dolley Madison overheard a dinner-party guest describe the meal as “more like a harvest home supper than the entertainment of the Secretary of State,” she immediately retorted that “the profusion of my table arises from the happy circumstances and abundance and prosperity in our country” (316). In another document, “Notes on an American Dinner,” penned on July 4, 1798, Madison drew special attention to that meal as “a testimony of the American character” (Madison, Papers, Congressional Series [CS], 17:160). He commented on the “temperate but cheerful repast,” observing that “there was not on the table a single dish that had a foreign ingredient in it. Even the liquors were the produce of our own happy soil climate ingenuity & industry.”
In addition to Gigante, see Morton, Cultures of Taste/Theories of Appetite, as well as Morton’s other works, including The Poetics of Spice.
Wills’s Inventing America offers the foundational work on the subject. Numerous authors, including Lance Banning, Jay Fliegelman, Drew McCoy, Lori Merish, David Shi, David S. Shields, and Michael Warner, have taken up and refined this claim.
This quotation derives from a longer passage from the introduction to American Literature’s Aesthetic Dimensions, in which Weinstein and Looby lay out their intent to “join in an effort to place aesthetics back on the critical agenda—and not in a fixed subordinate position either, but in a dynamic and unpredictable relationship to the social and political and ideological matters that have dominated our conversations for a good while now” (29).
In fact, in a more recent essay, “The Atlantic World, the Senses, and the Arts,” Shields identifies—although does not resolve—the “historical dilemma” illuminated by the cultural encounters that took place in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. On the one hand, the sensory pleasures offered by the non-Western cultures of the Atlantic world “suggest the reality of a human sensus communis.” On the other, the “cultural relativism” that allowed such positive judgments of taste to take place would seem to preclude such universal standards. This dilemma, Shields concludes, points to the existence of “multiple communities of sense that did not map neatly upon each other, yet coincided sufficiently to permit trade and the sharing of pleasure and pain” (145).
See Early American Literature 47, no. 2 (2012) for a colloquy that discusses this important work.
For a more extended discussion of Heming’s culinary knowledge and labor, see chapter 5.
Arguments that excuse Jefferson’s contradictory behavior on the grounds of his personal failings have thankfully fallen out of style. For an example of this type of defense, see John Chester Miller, The Wolf by the Ears. Not without irony, a work of young adult historical fiction that imagines the life of Harriet Hemings, believed to be the daughter of Jefferson and Sally Hemings, borrows this title for its own; see Rinaldi, Wolf by the Ears.
It is tempting to interpret this passage as a reflection of Jefferson’s awareness of the negative impact of slavery on the nation’s ideological underpinnings and, in so doing, resolve—at least in part—the contradiction between Jefferson’s political philosophy and his ideas about racial difference. In fact, John Chester Miller argues convincingly that the passage reveals a conviction that slavery “created an atmosphere deadly to the kind of public and private virtue without which a republican form of government could not survive” (The Wolf by the Ears, 41). To be sure, Jefferson viewed slavery as damaging to republican virtue, but it is this virtue, predicated upon his highly developed sense of taste, that allows him to condone the continued existence of slavery in the United States.
According to the teachings of John Calvin, “temperance must prevent excess and luxury; otherwise man’s passions would promote a selfish materialism and social strife,” as Shi, in The Simple Life, helpfully summarizes (11). Cotton Mather would take up and at times challenge these original teachings, advocating for a “Puritan ethic that demanded both diligence and temperance” (21). At the time of the Revolution, John Adams opined that Americans must be “preserved from the effects of intemperance” by the “force of severe manners” (67). Opinions like this would persist throughout the eighteenth century, into the nineteenth century, and through the present, as evidenced by the various waves of temperance movements targeted at alcohol but driven by very similar ideological beliefs.
Summarizing this main argument, Korsmeyer explains that taste “does not furnish significant information about the external world; it delivers only bodily pleasures; and hence it offers temptations that without strict control can lead to gluttony and intemperance” (“Tastes and Pleasures,” para. 8).
The image of “sucking . . . mother’s milk” would have carried tremendous cultural resonance at the time; most people believed that breastfeeding conveyed social attributes as well as nutritional value. See Golden, A Social History of Wet Nursing in America.
While Jefferson makes sure to state that taste is “not even a branch of morality,” he continues to analogize the moral sense to the sense of taste throughout his letter. His discussion is largely influenced by Kames, although he concludes his discussion with reference to the “moral instinct”—a phrase that derives not from Kames but from the work of Dugald Stewart, whom Jefferson met in Paris, as Hafertepe observes in “An Inquiry into Thomas Jefferson’s Ideas of Beauty.”
See McCoy, The Last of the Fathers, 232, and Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, 6. Sweet’s American Georgics offers analyses of other instances of Jefferson’s allusions to slavery.
This sentiment echoes across the work of contemporary farmer, essayist, and poet Wendell Berry. In “Renewing Husbandry,” a recent essay against the incursion of industrial farming, for example, Berry argues that “the effort of husbandry is partly scientific but it is entirely cultural.” Like Madison and Jefferson, he also sees “colleges of agriculture” as playing a large role in initiating “a new legitimacy, intellectual rigor, scientific respectability, and responsible teaching” of farming.
For an extensive treatment of Jefferson and architecture, see Faherty, Remodeling the Nation.
In fact, in a letter composed in August of that same year, Madison would make special note of the “pleasure excited [in him] by the growing taste for agricultural improvements” (Papers, Retirement Series [RS], 4:343).
Several sentences later, when Madison and Jefferson contrast their belief in the benefits of formal education with the Indians’ desire for a “return to the days of eating acorns and roots,” they confirm that the “Native stock” they seek to refine does not include Native Americans either (Madison, Papers, RS, 1:330).
McCoy observes that visitors often called upon Madison and Jefferson in close succession, since they lived so near to each other in Virginia. This resulted in many firsthand accounts that directly compared the two men (The Last of the Fathers, 33–35).
It might also be noted that Jacques Brissot, mentioned above, had the occasion to dine with Madison during his time in the United States. In his New Travels in the United States (1791), Brissot observed of Madison: “His look announces a censor; his conversation discovers the man of learning; and his reserve was that of a man conscious of his talents and his duties” (101).
Elizabeth Dowling Taylor cites a letter from Dolley which read, “His hands and fingers are still so swelled and sore as to be nearly useless, but I lend him mine,” but Taylor comments that “it was more likely Jennings’s hands that cut Madison’s food” (A Slave in the White House, 118).
Bertelsen describes a general “atmosphere of burgeoning consumption” during which discussions of taste “became the vogue” (The Nonsense Club, 45). Also see Breen’s influential “‘Baubles of Britain.’”
For a discussion of Madison’s conception of control and its relation to the body, see Shapiro, “‘Man to Man I Need Not Dread His Encounter.’” For an extended treatment of Madison’s conception of control and its relation to aesthetics, including a detailed reading of the Federalist Papers, see chapter 1 of Cahill’s Liberty of the Imagination.
Some have argued that by selling Gardner within Philadelphia Madison intended to take advantage of a state law that declared that individuals could be enslaved for no more than seven years. The fact remains, however, that Madison did not choose to emancipate Gardner on his own accord.
This possibility is more than hypothetical. In his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, to Those of the United States of America (1828), David Walker suggested that “each of [his] brethren . . . buy a copy of Mr. Jefferson’s ‘Notes on Virginia,’ and put it in the hand of his son,” in order to encourage that generation to refute Jefferson’s “charges” in their own terms (17). For an extended discussion of Walker’s Appeal, see Jarrett, “‘To Refute Mr. Jefferson’s Arguments Respecting Us.’”
See Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, A Slave in the White House, 162, for an account of what is known about the context for this image.
Jefferson came to extol the younger Hemings’s culinary abilities, albeit not as much as his older brother’s French techniques. In 1802, he wrote to his daughter, “Pray enable yourself to direct us here how to make muffins in Peter’s method. My cook here cannot succeed at all in them, and they are a great luxury to me” (Family Letters, 238). But because Jefferson was unwilling to relinquish his taste for the “great luxury” of Peter’s muffins, he refused to allow that cook to ever negotiate his freedom. Consequently, Peter Hemings remained in servitude, and was among the enslaved people sold at the time of Jefferson’s death in order to settle the debts of his estate.
See Matthewson, “Jefferson and Haiti,” and Newman, “American Political Culture and the French and Haitian Revolutions.”
Louis-André Pichon, a French diplomat in Washington at the time, reported to Talleyrand that Jefferson had assured him that “nothing would be easier than to furnish your army and fleet with everything and to reduce Toussaint to starvation” (qtd. in Lachance, “Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution in Louisiana,” 210).
Writing in 1913, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, whose cookbook collection is held in the Library of Congress, described Grimod as “the first great master” of the “new writers” on food. Gigante confirms that “Grimod’s work was enormously influential in nineteenth-century Europe. It was adapted and, in some cases, transported wholesale into English, influencing the development of haute cuisine beyond the borders of France and into England and America. In the Paris of his day, Grimod was a minor celebrity, dining with everyone from dignitaries down to actresses (not at this period the cultural elite) and supporting the rise of the restaurant in post-revolutionary France” (Gusto, 1–2).
Very little of Grimod’s Almanach has been translated into English. Gigante’s Gusto contains several excerpts. Except when indicated, passages from the text are from the contemporary French edition (Menu Fretin, 2012) and translations are my own.
Attendees were also served drinks in “Electrified bumpers,” which would administer a slight shock “if the Party be close shaved, and does not breathe on the Liquor” (Franklin, Memoirs, 2:254).
See Riskin, “Poor Richard’s Leyden Jar,” and her later monograph, Science in the Age of Sensibility.
This line can be found in a letter to John Adams that is rife with the language of food. Alluding to the reports of his luxurious lifestyle that dogged Franklin throughout his tenure as Ambassador, he “commend[s]” the “Readers of Connecticut Newspapers” for their sense of “Oeconomy,” and vows to “imitate it by diminishing” his own “Expence.” He then declares that his “Countrymen” shall no longer “be troubled with any more Accounts of our Extravagance,” vowing that the Connecticut readers “must be contented for the future, as I am, with plain Beef and Pudding.” He concludes, “For my own part, if I could sit down to Dinner on a Piece of their excellent Salt Pork and Pumpkin, I would not give a Farthing for all the Luxuries of Paris” (Franklin, Papers, 42:101).
Plato understood reason as the natural ruler over the passions, and other aspects of the mind. Aristotle took this idea further, defining human beings as rational animals; see The Nicomachean Ethics.
See Fred D. Miller, “The Rule of Reason.”
Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (1651) is the landmark text in this regard, but the Earl of Shaftesbury and his interlocutor, Bernard Mandeville, together popularized this debate in the early eighteenth century. For a discussion of this intellectual climate, of which Franklin was a part, see Douglas Anderson, The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin.
“Civility is hard-wired into the eighteenth-century political discourse out of which the American state is constituted,” writes Jenny Davidson, in Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness, 11.
In this regard, I align myself with Roy’s use of the body in Alimentary Tracts, in which, as explicated by Holland et al., “the text is the body’s alimentary tract, and the work is not to think of inside and outside but to think of the impossibility of separation between self and other, body and text, tongue and bowel” (393).
While this chapter treats Grimod’s representation of his body through his public performances, and subsequently links this self-representation to his writing, I attempt to do so while remaining attentive to the critiques of certain forms of disability studies scholarship that further objectify and/or pathologize their subjects under analysis, rather than contribute to a more capacious field. For a recent distillation of this critique, see Minich, “Enabling Whom?”
For an impressively rich account of Wheatley’s final years, see Carretta, Phillis Wheatley, 172–96.
“You philosophers are sages in your maxims, and fools in your conduct,” the Gout admonishes, reminding Franklin of the advice about an abstemious diet that he dispensed not only in the Autobiography, but also in Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he published annually between 1732 and 1758 (Memoirs, 3:258).
For an encapsulation of the ideas at the center of this debate, see Lundblad, “From Animal to Animality Studies.”
Despite Franklin’s characterization of Keimer as a “vainglorious bumbler,” he also lived a fascinating life (Frasca, Benjamin Franklin’s Printing Network, 10). See Frasca’s work for biographical detail.
An earlier episode in the Autobiography suggests how Franklin was already quite prepared to consider to how eating might expose certain affinities between humans and animals. Describing his apprenticeship in his brother’s print shop, Franklin recalls an influential text he encountered there: Thomas Tryon’s 1691 volume, The Way to Health, Long Life, and Happiness; Or, a Discourse of Temperance, and the Particular Nature of All Things Requisite for the Life of Man. Tryon’s text argued for the extended benefits of “the Vegetable Diet,” and included, according to Waldstreicher, “not only recipes but impromptu speeches by cows, sheep, birds, and horses, against their oppression” (Runaway America, 99). Waldstreicher suggests that Franklin, then indentured to his brother, may have been drawn to Tryon’s doctrines because of a sense of sameness with the animals he would eat. Franklin affirms his adherence to this view in the fried cod episode, explaining how he had long “considere’d with [his] Master Tryon, the taking every Fish as a kind of unprovok’d Murder” (Autobiography, 87). But upon conjuring the image of a gutted fish with a smaller fish inside its stomach, Franklin revises his initial formulation. The relation he perceives with this particular aquatic creature is not any that asserts their shared humanity. Rather, it appears instead to be how closely Franklin, as an eating animal—guided not by taste but by appetite—resembles an eating fish.
For a detailed accounting of the significance of this trip, see Douglas Anderson, The Radical Enlightenments of Benjamin Franklin.
The progenitor of moral sense philosophy, Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury, in all probability would have responded to Mandeville’s charges directly, but he had died several years before.
Perhaps for this reason, Franklin devoted considerable attention in Poor Richard’s Almanack to advocating in plain language for the importance of subjecting appetite to reason. In the first volume, Franklin intones, “Eat to live, and not live to eat” (Poor Richard, 7). He reinforces this position over many years, with multiple aphorisms about the importance of eating to satisfy hunger, rather than to indulge in superfluous desire. In fact, in the introduction to the 1742 volume, Franklin provides explicit confirmation of this view. Speaking in the voice of the god-fearing Poor Richard, Franklin asks: “Woudst though enjoy a long Life, a healthy Body, and a vigorous Mind, and be acquainted also with the wonderful Works of God? Labor in the first place to bring thy Appetite into Subjection to Reason” (100–101).
Some recent philosophical investigations of eating include Hird, The Origins of Sociable Life; Bennett, Vibrant Matter; and Elizabeth Wilson, Gut Feminism.
The only extant meeting notes of the Junto, the “Club for mutual Improvement” that Franklin founded upon his return to Philadelphia, in 1727, record a discussion about “Whether it is worth a Rational Man’s While to forego the Pleasure arising from the present Luxury of the Age in Eating and Drinking and artful Cookery” (Franklin, Papers, 1:259). The manuscript reveals how Franklin inserted the word “rational” after the fact, indicating his own instinct not to bind “man” to that quality as a matter of course. In the next line, Franklin offers another illumining addition, clarifying that the goal of “a healthy old age” should be recorded as a more specific process of “studying to gratify the appetite” so that such health can be achieved. Here again, Franklin indicates his awareness of the extent of the effort required in order to transform appetite into a cultivated sense of taste. And while Franklin fails to register the Junto’s conclusion on the matter—in marked contrast to the notes associated with all other discussion questions, which are followed by short summaries of the ensuing conversation—he continued to probe the relationship between appetite and reason in his own experiences of eating.
And Franklin was indeed a fan: he first tasted the sweetened treat at the Café Procope in Paris, in the late 1770s, while serving as Minister to France; and it was rumored (although almost certainly untrue) that he had a batch whipped up during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in order to literally cool the hotter heads. In truth, it is Washington who enters the record as the first of the founders to import an ice cream maker to the United States; in May 1784, he paid one pound, thirteen shillings, and three pence for a “Cream Machine for Ice” (Thompson, “Ice Cream,” para. 1).
Benjamin Franklin’s “On the Slave Trade,” published just three weeks before his death, confirmed what abolitionists had long believed: that the “founding father” was, in fact, against slavery. In a satire—Franklin’s characteristic literary mode—he attempted to underscore the absurdity of trafficking in people. If Franklin had a deeper, philosophical objection to the slave trade, however, it went with him to his grave. In fact, most scholars agree that Franklin came to his antislavery stance not because of any moral objection, but as an extension of his anger toward Britain. He identified a proximate relation between Britain’s enslaving of the colonies and the colonists’ enslavement of African and African American people. Franklin himself held several slaves at his home in Philadelphia, and he readily accepted advertisements for the sale of slaves in his various publications.
Here and throughout, my account derives from Rebecca Spang’s extensive research on the dinner.
This description was also the result of the event’s invitations, which were styled as elaborate burial announcements. See Spang, The Invention of the Restaurant, 88.
In Gusto, Gigante also describes the dinner. Two biographies of Grimod also exist: Rival’s Grimod de la Reynière and MacDonough’s A Palate in Revolution. MacDonough strongly faults Rival’s research methodologies, which are for the most part undocumented, although neither are scholarly texts.
Although not a focus of this chapter, historians of science have theorized Grimod’s prostheses to profound effect. See, for instance, Benhamou, “The Artificial Limb in Preindustrial France,” and Riskin, “Eighteenth-Century Wetware.”
Gigante reproduces this anecdote in Gusto, 2.
See Downie, A Taste of Paris.
See Garland-Thompson, Extraordinary Bodies.
In a later essay, “On Savoir-Vivre,” Grimod articulates an even more concise encapsulation of this idea, in which “one must enlist intelligence in the service of appetite” (qtd. in Gigante, Gusto, 29).
Further corroborating this exchange, the majority of the subsequent frontispieces iterate on the same general concept: a gourmand in his library-cum-dining room. See Grimod, Almanach, vols. 2, 4, 7, and 8.
The idea was prompted by Grimod’s experience, decades before, as a member of the Societé des mercredis. That group met every Wednesday—the mercredi of the society’s name—at one of the finest restaurants in Paris, where they were served a full dinner and then discussed its culinary merits. See Gigante, Gusto, 1–2.
In extolling the Jury’s first president, one Doctor Gastaldy, Grimod similarly comments upon his “grand art of the maw” as much as his ability to pronounce his eloquent opinions (555).
For more on Grimod in the context of Napoleonic France, and his “picture of Paris purged of the momentous events of the 1790s,” see Spang, The Invention of the Restaurant, 154–63. For more on slavery and its abolition in France, see Sue Peabody, “There Are No Slaves in France.”
His satirical essay, “On the Slave Trade,” published in 1790, at last confirmed what abolitionists had long wanted to believe: that Benjamin Franklin was indeed against slavery. See note 23 above.
See Carretta, Phillis Wheatley, 117–18.
A 1779 proposal for a second volume of poems, published in the Boston Evening Post and General Advertiser, described “a Volume of Poems and Letters on Various Subjects, Dedicated to the Right Honourable Benjamin Franklin Esq: One of the Ambassadors of the United States at the Court of France” (Wheatley, Complete Writings, 167). Wheatley also confirms this encounter in a letter to David Worcester, mentioning a visit to “Benjamin Franklin Esqr. F.R.S.” in a list of distinguished figures she met while abroad (146).
See Gates, “Mister Jefferson and the Trials of Phillis Wheatley.”
I am not the first to assert that the appetite for black “flesh,” as Hortense Spillers has famously theorized the captive subject position, undergirded the Enlightenment project as a whole (“Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe,” 67). In addition, Weheliye, mentioned earlier in the chapter, directly connects Spillers’s theorization to Enlightenment humanism in his Habeas Viscus. In the area of food studies, Kyla Wazana Tompkins’s Racial Indigestion and Woodard’s The Delectable Negro directly engage this topic.
See Joseph Addison, “The Pleasures of the Imagination,” in Gigante, The Great Age of the English Essay. Franklin also, famously, cites the Spectator as a major influence on his writing. In the Autobiography, Franklin even claims to have committed the third volume of the Spectator to memory as he attempted to refine his own writing style.
Carretta quotes Mason, who edited an early twentieth-century edition of Wheatley’s poetry, in asserting that “certainly she cooperated in its conception and contents” (Phillis Wheatley, 80).
Carretta states that “Wheatley’s modern reading was rather eclectic, but apparently it was fairly limited to works published in the early eighteenth century” (Phillis Wheatley, 51).
I thank Natalia Cecire for suggesting that I elaborate this line of inquiry.
For a more explicit elaboration of the intersection, often grotesque, between black bodies and sugar cane, see James Grainger’s four-book georgic, The Sugar-Cane (1764). Dillon, in “The Cost of Sugar: Narratives of Loss and Limb,” has interpreted Grainger’s poem along these lines.
This line comes from a letter written to Susanna Wheatley; Calef did not write to Phillis Wheatley directly.
Slauter, “Looking for Scipio Moorhead.” On the frontispiece, also see Shaw, “‘On Deathless Glories Fix Thine Ardent View.’”
For a helpful encapsulation, see Jain, “The Prosthetic Imagination.”
Note that there is no evidence that King George read the poem, although several of Wheatley’s other works were published in the prestigious London Magazine, an indication of her international readership. See Carretta, Phillis Wheatley, 78–108.
Russell writes of her son: “I am still a widow, with one child, a son, who is crippled; he has the use of but one hand” (A Domestic Cookbook, 3).
Until 2001, when the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library acquired Russell’s cookbook, Abby Fisher’s What Mrs. Fischer Knows about Old Southern Cooking (1881) was believed to be the first African American–authored cookbook. See the online collection Feeding America: The Historic American Cookbook Project (https://d.lib.msu.edu/fa) for an introduction to that volume, as well as a digitized version of the first edition. Here it should also be noted that there are many other important “firsts” in cookbook history, including Lafcadio Hearne’s La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes from Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous for Its Cuisine (ca. 1885), considered to be the first creole cookbook; and Caroline Sullivan’s Classic Jamaican Cooking: Traditional Recipes and Herbal Remedies (1893), considered to be the first Caribbean cookbook. Tipton-Martin’s The Jemima Code offers short entries on over 150 black-authored cookbooks from Roberts to the present. (Many of these are also available in digitized form on the Feeding America website.)
A large body of work considers the consolidation of the cookbook as a women’s genre that took place in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For a survey of recent books on the subject, see Le Dantec-Lowry, “Reading Women’s Lives in Cookbooks and Other Culinary Writings.”
The term “speculative aesthetics” has also been provisionally theorized by Hayles, among others, as a “partner” in the project of speculative realism—what she takes to mean the investigation of objecthood and the status and relations, both knowable and unknowable, among “non-human” objects and other living things (“Speculative Aesthetics and Object-Oriented Inquiry (OOI),” 175). But this concept and its associated methods require significant revision when set against the backdrop of early America. As the site that served as the principal proving ground for Enlightenment ideas about humanity, personhood, and objecthood, as well as about aesthetics, the contested terrain of early America underscores how theories such as speculative realism that seek to destabilize these restrictive categories cannot help but reinforce the same distinctions as the basis for any revised view. See Mackay et al., Speculative Aesthetics, for additional perspectives. I discuss the relationship between this notion of speculative aesthetics and early American literature in more detail in “Speculative Aesthetics.”
In addition to the Kazanjian cited above, see Moten on “improvisation” (“Knowledge of Freedom,” 275) and Ivy Wilson on the “vernacular” (Specters of Democracy, 13). Although framed in terms of creolization rather than speculation, Simek makes a similar case for how irony, as it is expressed across a range of cultural registers, including eating, functions as a creolized form of capital-T Theory—what she terms “epistemological justice” (Hunger and Irony in the French Caribbean, 4).
An additional valence worthy of note is how Russell’s vision for her new life in Liberia itself remained speculative, in that she never arrived at her destination. I thank one of the anonymous reviewers of this book for this observation.
See the Introduction for an overview of this history.
The notion of the “mental sense” can be traced to Shaftesbury’s Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times (1711).
Recall that Alexander Baumgarten’s landmark Aesthetica, which is generally credited with introducing the term, was published in 1750—nearly a full century before Peabody issued her remarks.
It might seem, to the careful reader, that the notion of speculative aesthetics is redundant, since my argument is that, in the early United States, any use of the term “aesthetic” carried with it an element of speculation. I have chosen to risk redundancy in my nomenclature because of how this speculative dimension of aesthetic theory remains for the most part unacknowledged, even today.
See Ridley for an account of American Cookery as the “first” American cookbook (“The First American Cookbook,” 114). See Hess’s introduction to The Virginia House-Wife for an argument in favor of its status as the “earliest full-blown American cookbook” (ix). See Longone’s introduction to A DomesticCookbook for evidence of its status as the “first cookbook authored by an African American” (vii).
Food writer Molly O’Neill, who documented Longone’s research for the New York Times, describes how she was unable to find conclusive evidence of any “Malinda, Mylinda, Melinda and Russel, Rusell, [or] Russell” living in any small town in Tennessee, Virginia, or North Carolina (“A 19th-Century Cookbook Gives New Twist to ‘Soul Food’”).
As Eagleton explains in “The Ideology of the Aesthetic,” the eighteenth-century discourse of taste concerned itself with “reconstructing the human subject from the inside, informing its subtlest affectations and bodily response with this law that is not a law” (330).
For a discussion of these social and intersubjective processes of cultivation, see, for instance, Shields, Civil Tongues.
This view is confirmed throughout the text. Later, Roberts writes: “Therefore, my young friends, when you hire yourself to a lady or gentleman, your time or your ability is no longer your own, but your employer’s; therefore they have a claim on them whenever they choose to call for them and my sincere advice to you is, always to study to give general satisfaction to your employers, and by so doing you are sure to gain credit for yourself” (The House Servant’s Directory, x).
For a discussion that touches on the taste philosophers’ consideration of satisfaction, see Korsmeyer, Making Sense of Taste, 46–51.
In Racial Indigestion, Kyla Wazana Tompkins provides a detailed reading of the “Jim Crow” cookie in terms of cannibalism, slavery, and orality. See the section on “Modernity’s Cannibals: Hawthorne’s House of the Seven Gables” (93–104).
On the rise of liberal capitalism and its relationship to republicanism, see Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order, and Appleby, Liberal and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination, as well as Prindle, The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism.
See Zafar, Recipes for Respect, 19–28. It is also well documented how, for black Americans in the era of slavery, entrepreneurial success took the place of political expression as a primary means of asserting national belonging. In his analysis of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), for example, Jaros observes how Equiano’s numerous accounts of his entrepreneurial efforts demonstrate his ability to successfully engage in the (then emergent) structures of liberal capitalism, while also “drawing attention to the unavailability of economic and legal rights to slaves and ex-slaves” (5). It might be said that Russell, similarly, performs her participation in the national economy, enlisting the evidence of her entrepreneurial success so as to mount critique of liberal capitalism at the same time that she participates in it.
That Russell would seek to make a political intervention through her cookbook is unsurprising. In fact, the handful of scholars who have explored Russell’s work to date have each focused on elaborating her subtle yet significant expressions of political opinion. Zafar, in Recipes for Respect, finds evidence of a clear antislavery stance in Russell’s rhetorical choice to infuse elements of the genre of the slave narrative into her cookbook’s introduction (20). Fretwell compares Russell’s recipes to those of Emily Dickinson, reading their shared interest in sweetness—Dickinson’s as a metaphor of race, and Russell’s as a synecdoche for pleasure—as “an experiment in poetical freedom and political freedom, respectively” (“Emily Dickinson in Domingo,” 74).
This quotation and all those in this paragraph come from the introduction to Simmons’s cookbook, which was published by Hudson and Goodwin in 1796.
In her introduction to the volume, Hess writes: “So, again, what makes American Cookery so very American? It is precisely in the bringing together of certain native American products and English culinary traditions” (xv).
For a complete account of American Cookery’s publication history, including the plagiarized editions, see Hess’s introduction, xii.
No biographical information about Simmons has been found. See Eden, “About That Recipe,” for a survey of scholarship on Simmons to date. See Pazicky, Cultural Orphans in America, for an in-depth exploration of the trope of orphanhood in the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary periods.
Simmons’s philosophy closely adheres to the ideology of republican motherhood, which has itself been proven to be deeply influenced by British aesthetic philosophy. See Kerber, “The Republican Mother.”
For an example of how literary scholars have theorized the improvisation associated with the recipe genre, see Kyla Wazana Tompkins, “Consider the Recipe.”
The recipe, which is one of nine distinct recipes for “Pastes” that appears in the book, reads as follows: “Rub one third of one pound of butter, and one pound of lard into two pound of flour, wet with four whites well beaten; water as much as necessary: to make a paste, roll in the residue of shortening in ten or twelve rollings—bake quick” (Simmons, American Cookery, 38).
In his study of Charleston caterers, Shields confirms what any aspiring pastry cook knows to be true: that the “mastery of dough” is among the most difficult of culinary techniques, and earned nineteenth-century pastry cooks the distinction as the “most skilled and valuable” type of cook (Southern Provisions, 122).
For a discussion of Russell’s intent in aligning herself with these “first families,” see Zafar, Recipes for Respect, 21.
After Randolph’s husband was dismissed from his post as Virginia’s federal marshal, a blow which coincided with the drop in tobacco prices that triggered the recession of 1800–1802, the Randolph family experienced increasing amounts of financial distress. After selling their custom-designed Richmond manse, Moldavia, they moved to a more modest home, which became the site of the boardinghouse they ran between 1808 and 1819.
In another context, Williams-Forson, in Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs, has argued for how enslaved cooks should be credited for making food taste good in spite of the attempts of the mistress of the house to control the process.
The full passage is as follows: “The prosperity and happiness of a family depend greatly on the order and regularity established in it” (xii). Compare this to Madison’s pronouncement, discussed in chapter 1, that “the class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy” (Madison, Papers, CS, 14:246).
See Williams-Forson’s discussion of the culinary implications of “gender malpractice,” in Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs, 165–85.
How cookbooks often enact a transfer of culinary knowledge is the subject of one of the earliest and most canonical essays in the field of food studies, Appadurai’s “How to Make a National Cuisine.”
See Shields, Southern Provisions, for an extended discussion of the importance of acknowledging regional differences in southern cuisine.
Longone, in her introduction to A Domestic Cookbook, describes the difficulties of locating Steward in the archive.
The name Moldavia was created by combining the names of “Molly” (as Mary was known to her friends) and “David.” After the Randolphs’ economic decline, the manse was sold to the adoptive parents of Edgar Allan Poe, who memorialized the two-story home in “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839).
See Egerton, Gabriel’s Rebellion, 69–79, for an account of the unraveling of the plan.
For more on Harland’s two cookbooks, Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery (1873) and Breakfast, Luncheon and Tea (1875), and to explore digitized versions of each, see the entry on “Marion Harland” at the Feeding America site: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/authors/author_harland.html.
The anecdote is most closely traced to Harland’s novel. In the second chapter of what Egerton describes as an “astonishingly racist epic,” the titular grandmother, whose narration strains to advance the plot, recalls Gabriel’s plans as follows: “When the white folks were all dead, [Gabriel] was to be crowned ‘King of Virginia.’ Richmond was chosen as his capital, and Mrs. Marcia Randolph, a beautiful widow, for his queen” (Egerton, Gabriel’s Rebellion, 180; Harland, Judith, 22–23). Because the name and circumstances differed slightly from the actual person, Harland, in the voice of Judith, adds: “You may have seen her cookery-book, ‘The Virginia Housewife’” (23). This episode was soon merged back into the original testimony, and transformed into fact. For instance, Stanard reports that “Gabriel was quoted as having declared that he would save Mrs. David Meade Randolph and make her his queen because she knew so much about cooking” (Richmond, Its People and Its Story, 83). This appears to be the source for Daniels’s account; he quotes it (without attribution) in its entirety. It is a case of fact and fiction being conflated: Randolph was known as “Queen Molly” in her own time, not for any relation to Gabriel, “King of Richmond,” but instead for her (seemingly) gracious rule over her home. See Sterling P. Anderson, “‘Queen Molly’ and The Virginia Housewife.”
The history of barbecue is complicated, as Warnes explores in Savage Barbecue. While emphasizing that barbecue, in the United States, is an “invented tradition,” he acknowledges how the enslaved “and their descendants revitalized this invented tradition and made it their own” (116).
Many works on the origin of soul food cite the meals prepared and consumed on “free Sundays” as a major source of the Sunday supper that has become a cornerstone of contemporary African American culinary practice. See, for instance, Adrian Miller, Soul Food. However, in “The Unbearable Taste,” Twitty cautions that “soul food has a spice that enslaved food did not. The average enslaved person would only intermittently enjoyed elements of the classic ‘Sunday dinner’ of soul tradition,” and even then their pleasure was fundamentally circumscribed by their condition of enslavement (n.p.). For a detailed history of “free Sundays,” see Berlin, Generations of Captivity. Berlin also provides an account of the slave codes that in some states (but not Virginia) prohibited worship and large gatherings. Foner’s Give Me Liberty! also discusses the Virginia slave codes in more detail.
D. Bellegarde, Histoire du people haïtien (1492–1952) (Port-au-Prince: n.p., 1953), trans. by and qtd. in Geggus, Haitian Revolutionary Studies, 81, 85. Geggus has also documented how the meal almost certainly involved the ritual sacrifice of a pig, although he does not find evidence to corroborate the claim that it was subsequently cooked and consumed (81–92). I thank one of the anonymous peer reviewers of the manuscript for the suggestion to explore this connection.
For the origins of the moniker, see Sterling P. Anderson, “‘Queen Molly’ and The Virginia Housewife.”
See Rucker, The River Flows On, for a more recent critique of Egerton’s account.
The distinction between Harriet Jacobs, the author, and Linda Brent, the name Jacobs gives her narrator/protagonist, has long presented a challenge to critics; Blackwood, in “Fugitive Obscura,” aptly describes the difficulty of distinguishing between the author and her fictionalized persona as “narrative twilight” (109). With this acknowledgment of the impossibility of perfect attribution, I nevertheless attempt to refer to assertions made by the author as “Jacobs,” and observations made by (or about) the protagonist as “Brent.” I similarly employ the characters’ real names when making arguments about their actual life circumstances, but use their fictional names when describing events in the book.
See, for example, Nudelman, “Harriet Jacobs and the Sentimental Politics of Female Suffering” (discussed later in this chapter); Emsley, “Harriet Jacobs and the Language of Autobiography”; and, more recently, Pratt, “‘These Things Took the Shape of Mystery.’”
For an interpretation of this scene as evidence of a larger “genealogy of human consumption” that is recorded in Incidents, see Woodard, The Delectable Negro, 26.
My interest in these narrative representations builds on the extensive critical bibliography about sentimentalism and its relation to slavery by connecting it to the discourse of taste. Among the foundational works in this area are, of course, Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture, and Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs. Extending that initial body of work are studies including Brown, Domestic Individualism; Samuels, The Culture of Sentiment; and Sánchez-Eppler, Touching Liberty. In the early 2000s, works including Merish, Sentimental Materialism; Hendler, Public Sentiments; and Noble, The Masochistic Pleasures of Sentimental Literature extended this inquiry into more focused directions. More recently, works including Luciano, Arranging Grief; Coviello, Tomorrow’s Parties; and Schuller, The Biopolitics of Feeling have translated the insights of sentimentalism into more contemporary conceptual configurations.
See the Introduction for this discussion. In the context of fiction writing, it is also worth invoking Toni Morrison’s account of her creative process as “trying to fill in the blanks that the slave narratives left” (“Sites of Memory,” 93).
For contemporary work on the subject of the relationship between Jacobs and Child, see Foreman, Activist Sentiments, and Tricomi, “Harriet Jacobs’s Autobiography and the Voice of Lydia Maria Child”; on the subject of white editors, see Sekora’s enduring essay, “Black Message/White Envelope.”
Child dedicates her volume “To those who are not ashamed of economy,” and explains in the introduction that she has deliberately “written for the poor” (The Frugal Housewife, 7). She leaves no doubt as to the broader implications of the exercise of economical taste for her readership, asserting that “living beyond [one’s] income” is “wrong—morally wrong, so far as the individual is concerned; and injurious beyond calculation to the interest of our country” (6). In the recipes that follow, she adheres to this view, emphasizing how certain foods considered luxurious do not in fact taste as good, or provide as much satisfaction, as other, less refined dishes, and vice versa. For a detailed account of the Housewife, see Karcher, The First Woman of the Republic, 126–50.
Child prefaces The Frugal Housewife with an epigraph from Benjamin Franklin. And in the second issue of the Juvenile Miscellany, she includes a biography of Franklin as an example of the virtues of “industry and integrity” (18). Reminiscent of how Jefferson instructed his grandson to “imitate Franklin,” Child urges her readers to model their lives after “this extraordinary man” (13). Consistent with an argument about her sustained attention to eating, Child concludes her account with an example of Franklin’s virtuous taste: “If the laugh of the gay and fashionable, should ever make industry and economy appear like contemptible virtues, let them remember that Benjamin Franklin, a poor, hard-working mechanic, became, by means of these very virtues, a philosopher, whose discoveries were useful and celebrated throughout Europe. If they grow weary of application, and despise frugality; let them think of a dirty, printer boy, eating his roll of dry bread, in the streets of Philadelphia, afterwards ambassador to the Court of France; welcomed to the most splendid of Parisian saloons; and his grey hairs crowned with a wreath of laurel, by the young and fair of that enthusiastic nation” (22–23).
I offer this summary for those unfamiliar with the major developments in American literary history. It is of course reductive, as no single trajectory could define the rise of a national literature, nor should the idea of a national literature be considered as a single unified entity.
“The dreams of an America of complete food security . . . proved elusive in the early years of settlement,” Eden explains (The Early American Table, 49). Also see Herrmann, “The ‘Tragicall Historie.’”
Child prided herself on her deep archival research. Karcher documents how Child sought out relevant histories, narratives, journals, and other sources for each of her major projects (The First Woman of the Republic, 176).
It is also worth noting how Child envelops the description of the breakfast table in a larger scene redolent of sensory pleasure. The narrator observes how Mary Conant’s eyes “sparkled as brightly, and the rich tones of her voice were as merry, as they could have been when her little aerial foot danced along the marble saloon of her grandmother” (Hobomok, 9). Child replaces the high-toned environment of the “marble saloon” with the rustic breakfast table, laden with indigenous foods, suggesting that the pleasures experienced while dancing—evident in the “sparkle” of Mary’s eyes and the “rich tones” of her voice—might be similarly found in the sensory experience of eating. In addition, she perhaps underscores the relation between gustatory and aesthetic taste.
In contemporaneous works, “Catharine Beecher, Harriet E. Wilson, and Domestic Discomfort at the Northern Table,” Drews similarly observes how the dinner table functioned as a potent symbol of democratic promise: Frederick Douglass, in My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), “used his own inclusion at the table to illustrate the promising character of the North”; Hannah Crafts, in TheBondwoman’s Narrative (ca. 1850), “illustrates a scene of welcome and human interaction at a shared table”; and Harriet Wilson, in Our Nig (1859), employs the dinner table to “illustrate the inconsistencies of Northern practices at the local level” (93, 95, 90). The Thanksgiving scene in “Willie Wharton” supports Drews’s analysis. But as Hobomok makes plain, Child was already attuned to the symbolism of a shared table many years before these particular representations of food.
See Fielder, “‘Those People Must Have Loved Her Very Dearly.’”
There is more subtle work to be done in unpacking Child’s cultural colonialism. A recent essay by Kauanui, “‘A Structure, Not an Event,” points to some possible avenues of entry.
In constructing her larger argument about the meaning of the woman’s sphere, Kaplan focuses on the dual meaning of domesticity—not simply as the home, but also as a process of domestication, “which entails conquering and taming the wild, the natural, and the alien” (“Manifest Domesticity,” 184). “Domestic in this sense,” Kaplan explains, “is related to the imperial process of civilizing, and the conditions of domesticity often become markers that distinguish civilization from savagery. Through the process of domestication, the home contains within itself those wild or foreign elements that must be tamed; domesticity not only monitors the orders between the civilized and the savage but also regulates the traces of the savage within itself” (184).
In fact, important work has explored this contradiction in Hobomok, as well as in other of Child’s works. See Sorisio, “The Spectacle of the Body,” and Samuels, “Women, Blood, and Contract.”
See Tricomi, “Harriet Jacobs’s Autobiography and the Voice of Lydia Maria Child,” for the most recent analysis of Child’s impact (or lack thereof) on the text.
As Fabian explains, “Like so much else in cultural life of the United States before the Civil War, the art of storytelling and the rules that governed the truth and fiction of stories were sharply shaped by slavery and by race. When fugitive narrators told their stories, they often found themselves labeled as either virtuous truth tellers or dangerous liars. Imagined fiction was not really an option” (“Hannah Crafts, Novelist,” 44).
Indeed, in the narrative, Jacobs notes that her grandmother’s “business proved profitable, and each year she laid by a little, which was saved for a fund to purchase her children” (Incidents, 6). (All biographical information derives from the account provided by Jean Fagen Yellin in her introduction to Incidents.)
Olney, in “‘I Was Born,’” offers an early attempt to atomize the features of the slave narrative as a genre. The accounting of violence, in particular, is treated with much more nuance in later scholarship, including works by Hartman and Nudelman.
Vizenor’s notion of an “aesthetics of survivance” is relevant here. Developed in relation to indigenous cultures, Vizenor describes an aesthetic that elaborates its claims through “practice and consciousness” rather than direct assertion (Native Liberty, 18).
With “inhumanity of the enslaved,” I reference what Hartman has described—drawing explicitly from the example of Harriet Jacobs—as the “restricted scope of black humanity” brought about by the institution of slavery (Scenes, 102).
In his analysis of Hannah Crafts’s 1850s novel, The Bondwoman’s Narrative, the first black-authored fictionalized account of slavery presently known, Castronovo observes that the “privilege of inhabiting an abstract plane above the material realm of the everyday was reserved for whiteness” (“The Art of Ghost-Writing,” 196). Indeed, the opposition between that era’s formal aesthetic philosophies and what Castronovo describes as the “embodied materiality” of everyday life was split along the racialized lines of slavery. Put simply: white bodies were free to imagine; black bodies were not.
Peter Gwinn, the slaver who captured Wheatley, began his mission in Senegal, although Carretta thinks “the odds are very low” that Wheatley was purchased in either Fort Lewis or Fort James (Phillis Wheatley, 8). More likely, Carretta writes, Gwinn continued down the west coast of Africa and captured Wheatley “either around Sierre Leone” or “further down the Windward Coast” (8).
The inn would later become known as the Indian Queen Hotel, when it was purchased by John Gadsby, a leading hotelier, upon Evans’s death in 1808. Before that, it was described as the inn “at the sign of the Indian Queen,” as in The New Baltimore Directory, and Annual Register; for 1800 and 1801, per the note included in the letter to Evans in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.
In a journal that documents her stay at the Indian Queen Hotel in June 1815, Harriott Pinckney Horry, of South Carolina, describes the hotel as “a very large establishment,” with “between 70 & 80 plates laid at the common Table (which they said was not sufficient) besides many private tables handsomely served.” It also boasted a state-of-the-art kitchen, in which, according to Horry, “All the boiling is done by Steam and the roasting at large open fire places and the spits turned by smoke Jacks. The Coffee roaster which is a very large cylinder that I imagine will hold 20 or 30 < . . . > of Coffee is also turn’d by the Smoke Jack. a large patent oven and a number of stoves set in brick work are also in the kitchen” (1815 Journal, June 8, 1815, in Schulz, The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry Digital Edition).
My account of the operation of the copying press derives primarily from the process described by Titus et al. in “The Copying Press Process.”
Bedini remarks upon the “preoccupation with recordkeeping” that Jefferson manifested since his college days (Thomas Jefferson and His Copying Machines, 3). Cogliano argues, more specifically, that Jefferson “carefully edited and preserved his massive collection of personal papers” out of an awareness of the “importance of primary sources as the basis of historical writing,” and for this reason, he can be said to have demonstrated a calculated attempt to “shape the history of his life and times” (Thomas Jefferson, 10–11).
In the highly influential essay “Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression,” Derrida explains that the French phrase “en mal de” (translated as “fever”) can “mean something else than to suffer from a sickness.” It can also mean “to burn with a passion,” or “never to rest” (57). In the context of the archive, this manifests as a “compulsive, repetitive, and nostalgic desire for the archive” on the part of the scholar or—in the case of Jefferson—creator (57). In “The Archive, the Native American, and Jefferson’s Convulsions,” in which the quoted passage appears, Elmer analyzes Notes on the State of Virginia through the lens of Derrida’s notion of archive fever, although he does not mention Jefferson’s own archiving practice involving his copying press.
The quoted passage can be found on the home page of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson website (https://jeffersonpapers.princeton.edu/).
For a survey of these uses, see Carter, “Of Things Said and Unsaid.”
For a detailed treatment of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to this particular technology, see Bedini, Thomas Jefferson and His Copying Machines.
On search, see Underwood, “Theorizing Research Practices We Forgot to Theorize Twenty Years Ago.”
It is worth a note to pay respect to the incredible amount of human labor involved in this expansion. Each document from each new volume of the print edition—each of which itself takes at least a year to compile, annotate, and edit—would have needed to be translated from typeset copy (or an earlier editable digital format) into the XML format that underlies the digital edition. Even if the process were automated (and I suspect, but am not certain, that it was), the digital version of each document would need to have been proofread for any formatting errors, and then hand-corrected if any were found. In addition, any indices to the Papers would have had to be updated, as well as any contextual information provided on the website. With the number of documents increased by more than 50 percent, the underlying search algorithms would likely have had to be reoptimized, and additional storage space would likely have had to be secured. Each of these processes relies on people with specific forms of expertise, yet, like the search technologies themselves, we rarely stop to think about their essential contributions.
Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts”; Fuentes, Disposessed Lives; Best, “Neither Lost nor Found”; Gordon, Ghostly Matters; and Bastian, “Whispers in the Archives.”
Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts,” 12; Best, “Neither Lost nor Found,” 151. It is also worth noting that the field of postcolonial studies has also taken up the challenge of the fundamental incompleteness of its archive. In Event, Metaphor, Memory, for example, Amin attempts to “chart the distance that separates” subaltern voices from the judicial discourse that inscribes them into the archival record (118). As another example, Ghosh, in “The Slave of MS. H.6,” anticipates Hartman in his use of narrative so as to dilate upon the numbers, names, and ancillary records that constitute the archive of the enslaved; see Ghosh, The Imam and the Indian, 169–242.
The too-often inscrutable structure of network diagrams has increasingly become a subject of critique, from the fields of both data visualization and media studies. For an edifying critique of current network visualization techniques from the former, see Krzywinski et al., “Hive Plots.” For a more media-critical perspective on the problem of the so-called hairball, see Galloway, The Interface Effect, 78–100.
In her work on antebellum food culture, Harris has described the Big House kitchen as “one of the centers of power” during that period. From the kitchen, she explains, “the cook, solo or in conjunction with the mistress of the house, fed the master’s family and often oversaw the feeding on all the plantation. At some of the loftier plantations there could be twenty or more guests to dinner every evening” (High on the Hog, 102).
“Deformance” is a term first employed by McGann and Samuels, Radiant Textuality, 105–35; see also Ramsay, Machines, 33, 34.
Ramsay, Machines, 57.
I would like to thank David Sewell, editorial and technical manager of the Rotunda imprint of the University of Virginia Press, for granting me access to the XML files of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition. This generous act enabled the analysis described in this section.
XML is what is known as a “markup language,” a set of agreed-upon standards that allow individuals to annotate a document in a way that can be later read—or “parsed”—by a computer. Many archival documents are encoded in XML so that key information such as author, recipient, or date of composition can be easily extracted and then manipulated and/or displayed. In this case, I received The Papers of Thomas Jefferson in XML form, but was required to extract the content of the letters for use with the Stanford Named Entity Recognizer. (I kept track of the additional information associated with each letter in a separate file.) Since the Stanford Named Entity Recognizer returns its output in XML form, I was required to write a second script to extract that information, which I then merged back into the file that contained the letters’ original metadata. For more information on the Stanford Named Entity Recognizer, and the related set of CoreNLP tools, see http://nlp.stanford.edu/software/.
Note that in this letter, “Hemings” is spelled here with two “m’s” rather than one. There is also no editorial note that indicates that James Hemmings and James Hemings are the same person. For these two reasons, the letter does not appear in a keyword search on “Hemings.”
Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello, 553.
Cohen, Science and the Founding Fathers, 58.
For more on the life of William Playfair, see Wainer and Spence’s introduction to the modern edition of Playfair’s Commercial and Political Atlas and Statistical Breviary. For more on the history of data visualization, see Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 13–52.
On the history of the fact and its relationship to data, see Rosenberg, “Data before the Fact.”
I gloss Chun’s notion of race as technology above, but it is worth additional discussion. She arrives at her formulation by positing that we understand race as a “mapping tool,” one designed to associate visible “traces of the body” with “allegedly innate invisible characteristics” (“Race and/as Technology,” 40). While acknowledging the violent history of how this “mapping tool” has been deployed, Chun asserts that the technology of race can, in very specific circumstances, be wielded to generative ends precisely because it “problematizes the usual modes of visualization and revelation” (56). She concludes that “race as technology is both the imposition of a grid of control and a lived social reality in which kinship with technology can be embraced. Importantly, it displaces ontological questions of race—debates of what race really is and is not, focused on separating ideology from truth—with ethical questions: what relations does race set up? As Jennifer Gonzalez has argued, race is fundamentally a question of relation, of an encounter, a recognition, that enables certain actions and bars others. The formulation of race as technology also opens up the possibility that, although the idea and the experience of race have been used for racist ends, the best way to fight racism might not be to deny the existence of race, but to make race do different things” (56–57). I take inspiration from Chun here in attempting to make the Jefferson archive “do different things” with its contents, in full view of its repressive force.
See chapter 1 for an image of the document as well as a complete transcription.
This approach of working backward to identify the labor (and tools) employed is exemplified by Posner in “How Did They Make That?”
For an extended consideration of digital labor, and the implications for human rights, ethics, and history, among other themes, see Scholz, Digital Labor. On labor as it applies to data work, see D’Ignazio and Klein, Data Feminism.
For a list of all known recipes recorded by Jefferson and his close family members, including several that perhaps originated with Hemings, see “Jefferson Family Recipe Sources.”
Thanks to Christopher Farrish for providing me with a photo of the wall text as it was then displayed, and to Mark Sample for providing additional details of the painting’s installation.
As described in the Introduction, it is now known that Hercules escaped from bondage in early 1797, after being sent back to Mount Vernon estate by Washington, who did so in order to avoid a law in place in Pennsylvania at the time that granted freedom to any enslaved person who had lived in Pennsylvania for six continuous months. By sending Hercules back to Virginia every six months, as Washington did for each of the men and women he enslaved, he would restart what Adrian Miller calls Hercules’s “freedom clock” (65).
On Carême, see Kelly, Cooking for Kings.
Adrian Miller also discusses this possibility; see President’s Kitchen Cabinet, 66–70.
For a roundup of these assessments, see LaBan, “A Birthday Shock from Washington’s Chef.”
Fascinatingly, the conclusion of the art historians assembled to analyze the image was that the hat—and, therefore, the sitter—was likely from the Caribbean. LaBan describes the hat as “a Caribbean headdress like the ones seen in paintings by Agostino Brunias of Dominican Creoles in that era” (“Behind the Story,” n.p.). An alternate epilogue could have probed the significance of this finding to the depth it deserves.
In the full quote from which this sentiment is taken, Eagleton even more directly connects the history of aesthetic thought to eating. He writes: “It is as though philosophy suddenly wakes up to the fact that there is a dense, swarming territory beyond its own mental enclave, threatening to fall utterly outside its sway. That territory is nothing less than the whole of our sensate life—the business of affections and aversions, of how the world strikes the body on its sensory surfaces, of what takes root in the guts and the gaze and all that arises from our most banal, biological insertion into the world” (“The Ideology of the Aesthetic,” 327–28).
The date specified in the title—that of the Declaration of Independence—underscores Moorhead’s enslaved status; while figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were asserting their autonomy, Moorhead remained enslaved.
Wheatley is believed to have commissioned the original portrait to accompany the publication of her book, as she was asked to include a portrait of herself to confirm that she was, in fact, an enslaved black woman. She met Moorhead in Boston, where she lived near him for a time. In addition to her complimentary poem, art historians often point to the similarities between the portrait and those of the Boston-based artist John Singleton Copley, whose work Moorhead would have likely seen, as well as to the fact that a white artist would have been unlikely to take a commission to paint a black woman, as evidence for Moorhead as the artist. That the original portrait does not survive has made further authentication difficult. See Slauter, “Looking for Scipio Moorhead,” for more on this background.
Erikson, in “Posing the Black Painter,” suggests that the painters depicted in the subsequent portraits are wholly “fictional” (43).
Recall, once again, the nineteenth-century characterization of Hercules as a “celebrated artiste” (Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, 422).