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CHARLES CAPPER, ROMANTIC AMERICA, AND INTELLECTUAL HISTORY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 August 2018

DAVID A. HOLLINGER*
Affiliation:
Department of History, UC Berkeley E-mail: davidhol@berkeley.edu

Abstract

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Type
Essays
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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References

1 Capper's role in organizing this march is mentioned by Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS: The Rise and Development of the Students for a Democratic Society (New York, 1973), 115.

2 Kidd, Colin, “The Phillipsonian Enlightenment,” Modern Intellectual History 11/1 (2014), 175–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Marchand, Suzanne, “Enlightened Conversations: The Career and Contributions of Anthony J. La Vopa,” Modern Intellectual History 12/3 (2016), 777–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 That summer of 1966 Capper and a collaborator had published an SDS pamphlet being widely circulated on the Berkeley campus as soon as the fall semester began; Sy Landy and Charles Capper, In Defense of Black Power (n.p., Independent Socialist Club, 1966). Rorabaugh, W. J., Berkeley at War: the 1960s (New York, 1990), 91Google Scholar, correctly identifies Capper as an SDS activist and a prominent Berkeley radical but mistakenly represents him as having already been at Berkeley before he helped to organize the early 1965 antiwar march in Washington.

4 Both Capper and I wrote obituaries for May when he died in 2012: Capper's is https://s-usih.org/2012/10/henry-may-in-his-times-by-charles-capper and mine is “In Memoriam: Henry F. May (1915–2012),” Perspectives on History (Dec. 2012).

5 The Independent Socialist Club was solidly “Shachtmanite,” as one of the two major traditions in American Trotskyism has been labeled since 1940. Max Shachtman and James Cannon led the factions that split the Socialist Worker's Party in that year when the “Cannonites,” like Trotsky himself, supported the Soviet Union in its invasion of Finland following the Nazi–Soviet Pact of 1939, while the “Shachtmanites” repudiated the invasion even while maintaining opposition to Finland's military ally, Hitler's Germany. By the 1960s other issues divided the two factions, too, but the division remained sharp. The Independent Socialist Club was by far the most important Trotskyist organization on campus, and played a large role in the Berkeley antiwar movement even though the aged Shachtman himself had become a centrist and refused to advocate an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. The smaller Cannonite group on campus, also active in antiwar activities, was led by Peter Camejo, also a history graduate student. Camejo later left the Socialist Worker's Party for the Green Party and was the vice presidential candidate for Ralph Nader's presidential bid of 2004.

6 Charles Capper, “History Today: Notes of a Prodigal Graduate Student,” Perspectives on History (Dec. 1984), 12–13.

7 Megan Marshall, “Let Them Be Sea-Captains,” London Review of Books, 15 Nov. 2007, 16. Marshall, who six years later would publish her own excellent biography, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life (Boston, 2013), made this observation in an admiring review of the second volume of Capper's biography. The title for Marshall's review is taken from the single most widely quoted utterance of Fuller's concerning the role of women in society, “But if you ask me what offices they may fill; I reply—any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will.”

8 Capper, Charles, Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life, 2 vols. (New York, 1992–2007)Google Scholar. The first volume carries the subtitle The Private Years, and the second The Public Years. The first volume was awarded the Bancroft Prize in 1993. Of the many appreciative reviews, perhaps the most authoritative and discerning is the pair of essay reviews contributed to New Republic by historian Christine Stansell, “The New England Sphinx,” New Republic, 21 June 1993, 40–42, and “A Noble Career,” New Republic, 26 March 2008, 51–5. For other carefully argued examples see Bell Gale Chevigny's pair of reviews, “Transcendental Meditations,” Nation, 4 Oct. 1993, 357–60, and “The Universe Was Her Oyster,” Women's Review of Books, July–Aug. 2008, 27–9; and the detailed essay review of both volumes by Phyllis Cole, “Fuller's Transatlantic Life,” Nineteenth-Century Prose, Fall 2008, 183–94. Later students of Fuller's life and career routinely acknowledge the monumental character of Capper's research and the perspicacity of his analysis. A 2013 commentary on the many recent books on Fuller voiced the consensus that Capper's work “has never been surpassed as a social history of the period” and that it excels in “elegance and dispassion” and in “tough-mindedness.” See Judith Thurman, “An Unfinished Woman: The Desires of Margaret Fuller,” New Yorker, 1 April 2013, 75–81.

9 Capper, Fuller, 2: 320–497.

10 Stansell, “A Noble Career,” 54.

11 Capper, Fuller, 1: xi.

12 Ibid.

13 Levin, David, History as Romantic Art: Bancroft, Prescott, Motley, and Parkman (Stanford, 1959)Google Scholar. A prominent exception to the pattern is the article of historian Thomas, John L., “Romantic Reform in America, 1815–1865,” American Quarterly 17 (1965), 656–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14 Miller, Perry, Nature's Nation (Cambridge, MA, 1967)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, does include Miller's most sustained engagement with the concept of Romanticism, at 197–207, there entitled “The Romantic Dilemma in American Nationalism and the Concept of Nature.” This essay was first published in 1955 and then reprinted as “Nature and the National Ego” in Miller, Perry, Errand into the Wilderness (Cambridge, 1956), 205–16Google Scholar. Evangelicalism, not Romanticism, is the central concept in Miller, Perry, The Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War (New York, 1965)Google Scholar.

15 Hartz, Louis, The Liberal Tradition in America (New York, 1955)Google Scholar; Boorstin, Daniel J., The Genius of American Politics (Chicago, 1953)Google Scholar; Smith, Henry Nash, Virgin Land, (Cambridge MA, 1950)Google Scholar; Commager, Henry Steel, The American Mind (New York, 1950)Google Scholar; Potter, David, People of Plenty (Chicago, 1954)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Matthiessen, F. O., American Renaissance (Cambridge, MA, 1941)Google Scholar; and Curti, Merle, Growth of American Thought (New York, 1943)Google Scholar.

16 Kuklick, Bruce, “Myth and Symbol in American Studies,” American Quarterly 24 (1972), 435–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Higham, John and Conkin, Paul, eds., New Directions in American Intellectual History (Baltimore, 1979)Google Scholar.

17 Kloppenberg, James T., Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870–1920 (New York, 1986)Google Scholar.

18 This dispensation is registered in Isaac, Joel et al., The Worlds of American Intellectual History (New York 2016)Google Scholar.

19 Capper, Charles, “‘A Little Beyond’: The Transcendentalist Movement in American History,” Journal of American History 85/2 (1998), 502–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 533.

20 Capper, Charles and Wright, Conrad Edlick, eds., Transient and Permanent: The Transcendentalist Movement and Its Contexts (Boston, 1999)Google Scholar; Capper, Charles and Giorcelli, Cristine, eds., Margaret Fuller: Transatlantic Crossings in a Revolutionary Age (Madison, 2007)Google Scholar.

21 Hollinger, David A. and Capper, Charles, eds., The American Intellectual Tradition: A Source Book (New York, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016)Google Scholar.

22 Hollinger, David A., “What Is Our ‘Canon’: How American Intellectual Historians Debate the Core of Their Field,” Modern Intellectual History 9/1 (2012), 185200CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 Charlie and I agreed that the best models for what we wanted to do in American Intellectual Tradition were three of Miller's anthologies devoted to brief periods: The American Puritans (New York, 1956); The Transcendentalists (New York, 1950); and American Thought: Civil War to World War I (New York, 1954).

24 Capper, Fuller, 2: ix.

25 Trotsky, Leon, My Life (New York, 1930), 340Google Scholar.