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Transformable RaceSurprising Metamorphoses in the Literature of Early America$
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Katy L. Chiles

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199313501

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199313501.001.0001

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The Political Bodies of Benjamin Franklin and Hendrick Aupaumut

The Political Bodies of Benjamin Franklin and Hendrick Aupaumut

(p.64) { 2 } The Political Bodies of Benjamin Franklin and Hendrick Aupaumut
Transformable Race

Katy L. Chiles

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 demonstrates how the narratives of Benjamin Franklin and Hendrick Aupaumut coupled natural-historical thinking with more explicitly political thinking related to the notion of transformable race. Both diplomats employed by the US government, Franklin and Aupaumut present their own textual and physical bodies for their audiences to consider in relationship to the notion of transformable race and in relationship to how political bodies might be constituted out of identical or dissimilar physical bodies. Neither Franklin nor Aupaumut adamantly advance a theory of how the races originated, but the topic of race plays a structuring role in their texts, one we come to understand by reading Franklin’s implicit and explicit evocations of natural-historical texts published as he composed the Autobiography, and by analyzing how Aupaumut’s strategic use of the term “color” intervenes in Native American discussions about race in his “Short Narration of My Last Journey to the Western Contry.”

Keywords:   Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, Hendrick Aupaumut, “Short Narration of My Last Journey to the Western Contry,”, Mohican, Native American, color, race, politics, body

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