In our last two classes, everyone in the class presented their final projects. I was really impressed with the research that everyone did and enjoyed listening what their papers were about. The topics varied from railroad monopolies, a newspaper creating a hoax about a civilization living on the moon, how the English language was affected by politics, and even how children’s books had political motives of their own.
My project was about how Samuel Colt and modern weaponry affected 19th century society. Colt’s weapons included the new invention of the revolving chamber which allowed weapons to fire as many as six shots before reloading as opposed to just one. These weapons ultimately led Americans to feel confident and superior enough to head out west and take on the frontier. Feelings of superiority towards Indians existed even before Colt, but the new weapons made Americans feel more invincible than ever before. As settlers brought this attitude to the frontier, it led to violence with the Indians. Battles were fought and eventually the west was controlled by Americans. The results of these events can still be seen today, however, as treaties and Indian reservations still exist to show us the results of events that happened decades ago.
The sources from the American Antiquarian Society really helped me with my research for this project. One of the most important was “Armsmear: the home, the arm, and the armory of Samuel Colt,” written by Henry Barnard in 1866. This book gave me a wealth of information on Colt’s factory and his weapons. I also used the children’s book, “The picture book of Indians,” written by an unnamed citizen of New England in 1831, along with a particular original copy of the Crockett Almanac Improved, that was written in 1841, to discover the real unpleasant attitude that Americans looked down on Indians with. There were also other AAS documents that were used and some online sources as well.
The class at the AAS this semester was really one of the best classes I have ever taken. All of the information we learned, primary documents we analyzed, and discussions we had in class were great, and it made the originally feared research project become something that I enjoyed working on.
I also want to give a shout out to Professor Klinghard, Mr. Erickson, and everyone at the AAS for making our experience what it was. If it was up to me, you all would win Employees of the Month every month!
It’s been a pleasure everyone,