Phi Alpha Theta Upper New York Regional Conference

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The SUNY Plattsburgh chapter of the history honors society Phi Alpha Theta is proud to present the proceedings of the 2016 Phi Alpha Theta Upper New York Regional Conference. Hosted by the SUNY Plattsburgh Phi Alpha Theta chapter and held on the Plattsburgh campus on April 30, 2016, undergraduates from Castleton University, Hartwick College, Keene State College, Marist College, SUNY New Paltz, SUNY Plattsburgh, Saint Anslem College, and United States Military Academy West Point presented their original research. Based on primary source analysis and engagement with the relevant historiography, their papers covered a range of fascinating historical topics. All demonstrated the intellectual curiosity and academic professionalism that distinguishes members of Phi Alpha Theta. We offer our sincere thanks to all the presenters, panel moderators and commentators, chapter advisors, participants, and supporters.

Jessamyn Neuhaus, SUNY Plattsburgh Phi Alpha Theta Co-Faculty Advisor
Connie Shemo, SUNY Plattsburgh Phi Alpha Theta Co-Faculty Advisor
Mikayla Ploof, SUNY Plattsburgh Phi Alpha Theta President

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    Death is the Beginning of Infamy: Robespierre and a Legacy of Misconceptions
    (2016-04-30) Irizarry, Estrella
    This paper seeks to explain and dismantle the negative reputation French Revolutionary Maximilien Robespierre has accrued over the last three hundred years. Though considerable efforts have been made to improve his legacy since his execution in 1794, stereotypical portrait of Robespierre as an unfeeling dictator has maintained popularity for centuries. Historians hostile to Robespierre have routinely relied upon dubious sources and political bias in order to justify their depictions of Robespierre as everything from a bloodthirsty murderer to an unfeeling ideologue. This paper reexamines and critiques these representations, as well as the gendered ways in which Robespierre is often interpreted in academic and popular history. Largely ignored by even his greatest supporters, the persistent portrayal of Robespierre as abnormally effeminate has allowed historians to reimagine his revolutionary worth in ahistoric and homophobic ways detrimental to the study of the French Revolution.
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    Economic, Strategic, and Rhetorical: Justifications for U. S. Hegemony in Cuba
    (2016-04-30) Reagan, Ben
    "Economic, Strategic, and Rhetorical: Justifications for U.S. Hegemony in Cuba" is about the depictions of Cubans in American popular culture before the Spanish-American War to after the First World War. Cuba has been seen in a number of ways including a market and a potential addition to the United States. The depictions of Cuba are very important. To justify its economic control over Cuba, the United States used the rhetoric and representation of race, culture and gender to control Cuba and ensure it was firmly within the American sphere of influence. Not only is this important from the historical perspective but also from the perspective of current politics. Some of the depictions of Cubans continued to be used when Castro took power in Cuba. That means that while many Americans may have forgotten that part of history, Cuba's leadership has not. One of the most prolific writers on the topic is Louis A. Perez. His book, "Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos", was a valuable source for this project. The book is about the evolution of the perceptions of Cuba in the United States. It also talks about the goals the United States had in the country and how they changed.
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    Gloriana's First Scandal: The Thomas Seymour Incident
    (2016-04-30) Doren, Anna
    As a young princess, Elizabeth Tudor had a precarious position at court. Elizabeth was on her own in defending her honor when her position was put in jeopardy by rumors surrounding her and Thomas Seymour. Their relationship was questioned because of stories that circulated publicly and privately. These stories cast doubt on the character of the teenage Elizabeth and the investigations that followed looked at the involvement she and her household had in Thomas Seymour's plans to marry the princess and her encouragement of his flirtatious advances. Kat Ashley provided accounts that suggested she had been plotting with Seymour on her lady's behalf, and these same accounts show how Elizabeth discouraged his advances. Elizabeth vehemently denied her part in any marriage plans that Seymour may have concocted, though admits her governess's part in the gossip. "Kat. Aschlylye tolde me, after that my Lord Admiralde was married to the Quene, that if my Lorde might have his owne Wil, he wolde haue me " . Historians examine this scandal as a key part of Elizabeth's formative years. Some more speculative than others, such as Gregorio Leti who, in 1693, recorded inaccurate details of the scandal that have been often mistaken for fact. The accounts of William Cecil, Lord Burghley in the state papers detail a princess who was abused by those in power who wanted to remove her from the succession. With the support of her household, Elizabeth defended herself well and maintained her honorable reputation.
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    The white inhabitants wished relief from the horrors of continual alarms...: The British Empire, Planter Politics, and the Agency of Jamaican Slaves and Maroons
    (2016-04-30) Adams, Alex
    Although agency is generally depicted as local actions triggering local results, fears caused by the agency of slaves and Maroons in Jamaica influenced the policies of the British empire by affecting the agendas of worried planter politicians. As the British invaded Jamaica in 1655, slaves who were laboring on Spanish plantations fled to the mountains and formed Maroon colonies. Jamaica was officially ceded to the British in 1670, but Maroons continued to prove problematic by raiding plantations, providing refuge to escaped slaves, and by orchestrating slave revolts. The very knowledge of their presence was enough to gamer inspiration for rebellion among those still enslaved, and to incite anxiety among individuals with financial interests on the island. These examples of slave and Maroon agency are often cited for the ways in which they prompted action from the Jamaican Assembly, but prior analyses fall short of highlighting how the practice of absenteeism allowed concerns to travel overseas, and manifest into political influence. Bryan Edwards, Edward Long, Stephen Fuller, and other influential figures in British politics also held fiscal interests in Jamaica. Letters of correspondence and other works written by these men demonstrate how their multifaceted positions provided a bridge for concerns provoked by the actions of slaves and Maroons to cross the Atlantic, and compel British Parliamentarians to regulate the slave trade - a remarkable example of how agency helped steer the British towards abolition.
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    Ideologically Driven Loyalists: The Values that Defined Loyal Colonists in the American Revolution
    (2016-04-30) Cloutier, Cassandra
    The American Revolution is typically viewed as a war for independence between two groups, the revolutionaries and their oppressors, the British. Little is known about another party: the Loyalists. This group of people was set apart from the other players in the Revolution. They were men, and supporting women, who opposed the Revolution, unified by their politics and paternalistic values. These ideologies appealed to a wide array of people. Liberal constitutionalism, a political ideology in which one is open to change within the law of the constitution, generated a population of Loyalists who were white males that had held these views prior to the Revolution. Paternalism ushered in a vast range of other Loyalists, such as women and African Americans, because of their adherence to following the male authority, which in this case was the king. Using evidence from Peter Oliver's manuscript and accounts from various secondary sources, this paper argues that Loyalists were a group defined by their politically moderate and paternalistic values.