No Useless Mouth: Waging War and Fighting Hunger in the American Revolution (Paperback)Rachel B. Herrmann (author)
- Coming soon
In the era of the American Revolution, the rituals of diplomacy between the British, Patriots, and Native Americans featured gifts of food, ceremonial feasts, and a shared experience of hunger. When diplomacy failed, Native Americans could destroy food stores and cut off supply chains in order to assert authority. Black colonists also stole and destroyed food to ward off hunger and carve out tenuous spaces of freedom. Hunger was a means of power and a weapon of war.
In No Useless Mouth Rachel B. Herrmann argues that Native Americans and formerly enslaved black colonists ultimately lost the battle against hunger and the larger struggle for power because white British and United States officials curtailed the abilities of men and women to fight hunger on their own terms. By describing three interrelated behaviors-food diplomacy, victual imperialism, and victual warfare-the book shows that, during this tumultuous period, hunger prevention efforts offered strategies to claim power, maintain communities, and keep rival societies at bay.
Herrmann shows how Native Americans, free blacks, and enslaved peoples were "useful mouths"-not mere supplicants for food, without rights or power-who used hunger for cooperation and violence, and took steps to circumvent starvation. Her wide-ranging research on black Loyalists, Iroquois, Cherokee, Creek, and Western Confederacy Indians demonstrates that hunger creation and prevention were tools of diplomacy and warfare available to all people involved in the American Revolution. Placing hunger at the center of these struggles foregrounds the contingency and plurality of power in the British Atlantic during the Revolutionary Era.
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Number of pages: 308
Weight: 28 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"Rachel B. Herrmann has written the definitive study of the political uses of hunger and food in the Revolutionary Atlantic. In No Useless Mouth she asks us to reconsider the traditional narrative of decline of Native American and African Americans at the dawn of the U.S. National era." -- Ann M. Little, Colorado State University, and author of The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright
"Rachel B. Herrmann shows that control of food could be a tool of imperial war and, just as important, how Native and African Americans shaped their own destinies through their efforts to maintain food supplies. No Useless Mouth should be required reading for those concerned with the politics of food, past and present." -- Peter C. Mancall, University of Southern California, and author of Nature and Culture in the Early Modern Atlantic