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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Rage and Fury Which Only Hell Could Inspire": The Rhetoric and the Ritual of Gunpowder Treason in Early America
by Doyle, Kevin Q., Ph.D., Brandeis University, 2013, 482; 3558531
Abstract (Summary)

Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason, and plot,I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason,Should ever be forgot.

This verse, first recorded in Britain in the mid-1820s, makes a plea for the remembrance of November 5, 1605—the date of the discovery and suppression of a conspiracy to assassinate King James I; detonate Westminster Palace, the house of Parliament; and, ultimately, substitute the anti-Catholic monarchy of England with a protectorate that would favor the Church of Rome. In early 1606, weeks after the collapse of the Plot, the king endorsed and the Parliament passed "An Act for a Public Thanksgiving to Almighty God Every Year on the Fifth Day of November"; some sixty years later the legislative assemblies of the American colonies started doing the same. So was the official memory of "gunpowder, treason, and plot" born on both sides of the Atlantic, first as Guy Fawkes Day in England and then as Pope's Day in America.

This dissertation provides a new political history—and a new study of popular religion—in British North America and the early United States. I construct a long history of the anniversary—and the historical memory of the Plot, in a variety of texts—in early America, ca. 1605-1865. I close-read almanacs, diaries, instructionals, letters, newspapers, novels, sermons, and textbooks as a means of understanding the process by which the memory of November 5 was appropriated, reconstructed, and re-politicized. Turning to the mid-eighteenth century, I assess the influence of the Fifth on the Great Awakening and the American Revolution and vice versa. I investigate what became of November 5 after 1783, and I scrutinize the many ways in which the creative arts and the partisan press made frequent use of the memory of the events of 1605. I consider both how that memory arose in new places after the Revolution and in what ways the parties of the republic, like the crowds of the colonies, evoked the Fifth as a warning against absolutism. Finally, I examine what became of "1605" the coming, and the waging, of the American Civil War.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kamensky, Jane
Commitee: Stanwood, Owen, Willrich, Michael
School: Brandeis University
Department: American History
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 74/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, European history, American history
Keywords: Festive culture, Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes Day, Political history, Religious history
Publication Number: 3558531
ISBN: 978-1-303-02949-3
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