Historical Thinking in Revolutionary New Jersey: Ancient and Medieval History at Liberty Hall

Christopher M. Bellitto

Abstract


By exploring the newly-accessible Liberty Hall Archives affiliated with Kean University in Union NJ, this micro-study of the historical references in the writings of John Kean, first cashier of the Bank of the United States, and William Livingston, New Jersey's first governor, reveals how two colonial and revolutionary gentlemen, one tutored at home in South Carolina and the other trained at Yale with a law practice in New York City, employed historical analogies in their pursuit of revolution and government-building. Specifically, how both the Kean paterfamilias and the builder of Liberty Hall used allusions to Greco-Roman history (and, in Kean's case, to medieval Britain) provides insight into the manner that one time period of history adopted and adapted prior periods. Such a study reveals how Kean and Livingston, with diverse backgrounds and from different parts of early America, used history as they made their own.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14713/njs.v2i1.26

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