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Grant number: FT-55481-07

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Charlene Marie Boyer Lewis
Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, MI 49006-3295)

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and American Identity: Contesting National Culture in the Early Republic

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785-1879) was a celebrated woman at a time when much remained unsettled in America. She had married Napoleon’s brother, borne his child, and seen the marriage annulled by the emperor himself. The War for Independence had succeeded but the question of whether the Revolution was complete remained open. Americans argued over how aristocratic or democratic their society should become. Bonaparte’s imperial connections and her scandalous behavior made her a central figure in this debate with many regarding her as a threat to the new nation. Her words and actions–and the reactions of others to them–remind us of the contingency of the republican experiment and of the active role of women in shaping American culture.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$5,000 (approved)
$5,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2007 – 8/31/2007