A New England Tragedy: The Life and Death of Hiram Harwood


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

The story of Hiram Harwood (1788-1839) is the story of an individual's struggle to achieve manhood within a family devoted to the ideal of patriarchy. In this lecture based upon his recent book, A Tale of New England, Robert E. Shalhope details how the pressure on Hiram to conform--to become a diligent farmer--was tremendous. Viewing himself as a man of pleasure rather than a man of business, Hiram struggled against the efforts of his father and grandfather to make him live up to their expectations. With the passage of time, Hiram did become a dedicated farmer and did gain the success demanded of him. Ultimately, however, the price Hiram paid for this success was enormous: his struggle to achieve patriarchy brought tragic consequences in its wake.


Robert E. Shalhope is the George Lynn Cross Research Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. His articles on political thought in the Revolution and early national periods have appeared in the Journal of Southern History, the William and Mary Quarterly, and the Journal of American History. He is also the author of Bennington and the Green Mountain Boys: The Emergence of Liberalism in Vermont, 1763-1850 (1996), and A Tale of New England: The Diaries of Hiram Harwood, Vermont, Farmer 1810-1837 (2003), both of which were published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. An American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1995-96 brought him to AAS to work on the Harwood book.