The City-State of Boston: The Rise and Fall of an Atlantic Power


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

In the vaunted annals of America’s founding, Boston has long been held up as an exemplary “city upon a hill” and the “cradle of liberty” for an independent United States. Wresting this iconic urban center from these misleading, tired clichés, Mark Peterson, in his new book, The City-State of Boston, highlights Boston’s overlooked past as an autonomous city-state, and in doing so, offers a pathbreaking and brilliant new history of early America.

Following Boston’s development over three centuries, in this talk Peterson will discuss how this self-governing Atlantic trading center began as a refuge from Britain’s Stuart monarchs and how—through its bargain with slavery and ratification of the Constitution—it would tragically lose integrity and autonomy as it became incorporated into the greater United States.

Mark Peterson is the Edmund S. Morgan Professor of History at Yale University, where he teaches courses on colonial and Revolutionary America. Prior to that, he was chair of the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his Ph.D. at Harvard University and is the author of The Price of Redemption: The Spiritual Economy of Puritan New England (1997). He is currently working on a new book, The Long Crisis of the Constitution, for Princeton University Press.