Being American in Europe: 1750-1860
Johns Hopkins University Press 2013
When Americans go overseas, they know just who they are–Americans. But what was it like for a citizen of the United States to go abroad before there was a clear idea of what an “American” was? This is one (among many) of the fascinating questions Daniel Kilbride addresses in his equally fascinating book Being American in Europe: 1750-1860 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). In the Revolutionary Period and for some decades after, Americans–nearly all affluent and white–went to Europe to see the “Old World” and to figure out who they were. They knew that their culture was in some sense European, but they did their best to tease out differences that would give them an “American” identity. Some admired Europe; some despised it. All saw themselves in it.