Be sure to mark your calendar. We’ll be giving away some great books during the live broadcasts of Fieldstone Common.
1 Nov 2012 at 1pm EST
When America First Met China with Eric Jay Dolin. As a brand new country the United States set out right away to establish itself as a commercial power. Eric Jay Dolin talks about the early roots of the China trade and the historical balance of power between these two nations.
The Poorhouses of Massachusetts with Heli Meltsner. A Study on the development of the poorhouses, the life within their walls and their architecture. Learn how Massachusetts dealt with its poor, homeless and mentally ill before the inception of Social Security and current welfare programs.
A New England Town with Prof. Ken Lockridge . Ken Lockridge wrote A New England Town in 1970 and it went on to become a significant contribution to the field of history and our understanding of the development of New England. Come hear how the field of history has changed since that time.
You can learn more about Jennifer L. Anderson from her staff page in the history department at SUNY Stony Brook. Mahogany: The Costs of Luxury in Early America was published by Harvard University Press and copies are available for sale through Amazon.com and other booksellers. Professor Anderson’s next research project/book will look at Long Island and its relationship to the Atlantic coast.
Our sponsor for this episode was Houstory Publishing, makers of the Home History Book and the Heirloom Registry.Fieldstone Common listeners can take 15 % off their Heirloom Registry order by visiting the Heirloom Registry at www.heirloomregistry.com, and entering FIELDSTONE – in all caps – at checkout.
In the mid-eighteenth century, colonial Americans became enamored with the rich colors and silky surface of mahogany. This exotic wood, imported from the West Indies and Central America, quickly displaced local furniture woods as the height of fashion. Over the next century, consumer demand for mahogany set in motion elaborate schemes to secure the trees and transform their rough-hewn logs into exquisite objects. But beneath the polished gleam of this furniture lies a darker, hidden story of human and environmental exploitation.
Mahogany traces the path of this wood through many hands, from source to sale: from the enslaved African woodcutters, including skilled “huntsmen” who located the elusive trees amidst dense rainforest, to the ship captains, merchants, and timber dealers who scrambled after the best logs, to the skilled cabinetmakers who crafted the wood, and with it the tastes and aspirations of their diverse clientele. As the trees became scarce, however, the search for new sources led to expanded slave labor, vicious competition, and intense international conflicts over this diminishing natural resource. When nineteenth-century American furniture makers turned to other materials, surviving mahogany objects were revalued as antiques evocative of the nation’s past.
Jennifer Anderson is Assistant Professor of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.