Watch Live April 22 at 7 pm ET
About the Book
In Past and Prologue, Michael Hattem shows how colonists’ changing understandings of their British and colonial histories shaped the politics of the American Revolution and the origins of American national identity. Between the 1760s and 1800s, Americans stopped thinking of the British past as their own history and created a new historical tradition that would form the foundation for what subsequent generations would think of as “American history.”
This change was a crucial part of the cultural transformation at the heart of the Revolution by which colonists went from thinking of themselves as British subjects to thinking of themselves as American citizens. Rather than liberating Americans from the past—as many historians have argued—the Revolution actually made the past matter more than ever. Past and Prologue shows how the process of reinterpreting the past played a critical role in the founding of the nation.
Buy the Book
About the Author
Michael Hattem is a historian of early America, with a focus broadly on culture and politics in the long eighteenth century. He is especially interested in cultural memory in (and of) the American Revolution and early America generally, the origins and causes of the American Revolution, print culture, and colonial New York City. Hattem is the author of Past and Prologue: Politics and Memory in the American Revolution, which explores the role of changing historical memories in revolutionary American culture and politics.
Hattem is an Associate Director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Previously, he served as a Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and Visiting Faculty at The New School in 2017-2018 and as Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Knox College from 2018 to 2020.