From the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Battle for Christmas, here is the story of America's first reported Christmas tree: a tale of antislavery and radical German philosophy, a popular British travel writer and Boston Brahmin elites, the education of nineteenth-century children and candles blowing in the wind.
Now-forgotten chronicler Harriet Martineau immortalized what became known as the first American Christmas tree, set up in the house of her friend Charles Follen. But she neglected to explain what brought the two of them together in the first place: a passion for abolition. Martineau also failed to mention Follen's convoluted path to America, from banished German radical to Harvard professor and U.S. citizen. Stephen Nissenbaum explains all in this amusing and somewhat astonishing expose of the Christmas tree, taken from his definitive and award-winning history of Christmas in America.
An eBook short.
Stephen Nissenbaum is professor of history emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and adjunct professor of history at the University of Vermont. In addition to The Battle for Christmas (1996), he has written Sex, Diet, and Debility in Jacksonian America (1980) and Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (1974, co-authored with Paul Boyer and a finalist for the National Book Award as well as winner of the John H. Dunning Prize of the American Historical Association). The Battle for Christmas was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in History.