Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase

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9780195153477: Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase

Thomas Jefferson advocated a republic of small farmers--free and independent yeomen. And yet as president he presided over a massive expansion of the slaveholding plantation system--particularly with the Louisiana Purchase--squeezing the yeomanry to the fringes and to less desirable farmland. Now Roger Kennedy conducts an eye-opening examination of that gap between Jefferson's stated aspirations and what actually happened.
Kennedy reveals how the Louisiana Purchase had a major impact on land use and the growth of slavery. He examines the great financial interests (such as the powerful land companies that speculated in new territories and the British textile interests) that beat down slavery's many opponents in the South itself (Native Americans, African Americans, Appalachian farmers, and conscientious opponents of slavery). He describes how slaveholders' cash crops (first tobacco, then cotton) sickened the soil and how the planters moved from one desolated tract to the next. Soon the dominant culture of the entire region--from Maryland to Florida, from Carolina to Texas--was that of owners and slaves producing staple crops for international markets. The earth itself was impoverished, in many places beyond redemption.
None of this, Kennedy argues, was inevitable. He focuses on the character, ideas, and ambitions of Thomas Jefferson to show how he and other Southerners struggled with the moral dilemmas presented by the presence of Indian farmers on land they coveted, by the enslavement of their workforce, by the betrayal of their stated hopes, and by the manifest damage being done to the earth itself. Jefferson emerges as a tragic figure in a tragic period.

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About the Author:


Roger Kennedy is Director Emeritus of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and a past Director of the National Park Service. He has had a long and distinguished career in public service during which he has served six presidents. His books include Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson and (as general editor and contributor) the twelve-volume Smithsonian Guide to Historic America.

Review:


"Fresh, endlessly fascinating, and altogether extraordinary.... A sweeping, continent-wide reinterpretation of early US history.... Thematically rich and full of subtle arguments, Kennedy's study forces a reconsideration of accepted views. It couldn't come at a better time, given the soon-to-be widely commemorated bicentenary of the Lewis and Clark expedition."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"Roger Kennedy's throws down the gauntlet in his engaging new book. Was the freedom-loving, slave-holding Thomas Jefferson responsible for the coming of the Civil War? Kennedy's bold argument will certainly stir up controversy among the specialists, but it will also force them to rethink some of the most important questions in the history of the early American republic. Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause is vintage Kennedy, serving up a characteristically rich offering of fascinating stories, deft character sketches, and provocative conclusions."--Peter Onuf, University of Virginia


"Mr. Kennedy's astringency forces us to reconsider settled opinions, always a good thing."--Wall Street Journal


"Though in many ways a willful architect of the nation, Thomas Jefferson failed to build the foundation he envisioned in his heart of hearts: an Arcadian society of small farmers. His dream was trampled by a parade of vanities, intrigues, and missed opportunities, all marching lock step with the determinations of social history and natural history. Roger Kennedy highlights this fascinating story for us--he weaves it with stunning erudition, and delivers it with bounteous wit. Kennedy provides novel insights on Jefferson and numerous contemporaries, and he plows bare the roots of American land policy, revealing factors that are still germane after two centuries."--Daniel J. Gelo, University of Texas, San Antonio


"From this world of filibusters and spies, slaves and masters, tribal leaders and imperial politicians, Roger Kennedy has assembled as fascinating a cast as American history has ever produced."--Richard White, Stanford University


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Descripción Oxford Univ Press, Cary, North Carolina, U. S. A., 2003. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. Estado de la sobrecubierta: New. Illustrated by Photographs Ilustrador. First Edition. Thomas Jefferson advocated a republic of small farmers - free and independent yeomen. Yet as president he presided over a massive expansion of the slaveholding plantation system - particularly with the Louisiana Purchase - squeezing the yeomanry to the fringes and to less desirable farmland. Now Roger G. Kennedy conducts and eye-opening examination of that gap between Jefferson's stated aspirations and what actually happened. The author focuses on the character, ideas, and ambitions of Thomas Jefferson to show how he and other Southerners struggled with the moral dilemmas presented by the presence of Indian farms on the land they coveted, by enslavement of their workforce, by the betrayal of their stated hopes, and by the manifest damage being done to the earth itself. The pressures upon him, both psychological and economic, are detailed, as are the occasions on which decisions were made determining the future course of American history and the health of the land. Jefferson emerges as a tragic figure in a tragic period. 350 pages with notes, bibliography, and an extensive index. Eight glossy pages of photographs and maps. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Nº de ref. de la librería 002598

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ROGER G. KENNEDY
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Descripción Oxford University Press, 2003. Hardcover. Estado de conservación: New. book. Nº de ref. de la librería M0195153472

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