Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. vii-ix

This project has taken me down historical pathways I never expected to tread. Trained as a historian of early modern and revolutionary France, I had always assumed my research would focus on the metropole. And it surely would have had I not accepted a position at Auburn University and met Wayne Flint, then the department’s preeminent historian of Alabama. Wayne told me about the Vine and Olive colony, the short-lived French settlement founded ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xix

In 1817 the Congress of the United States granted four townships— 144 square miles of recently conquered Indian lands near the confluence of the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers—to a group of several hundred French expatriates based primarily in Philadelphia. In return, the group was to plant the grant with grape vines and olive trees, thereby forming (it was hoped) the nucleus of a domestic American wine industry. The story of this settlement, ...

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1. The New Atlantic France

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pp. 1-32

The news spread quickly across New York City that August morning in 1815: the distinguished Frenchman who had just disembarked from the Commerce after a monthlong Atlantic crossing was Lazare Carnot.1 The military engineer who, as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, had saved revolutionary France from the monarchical armies of Europe was a hero to republicans the world over. But as admiring Americans flocked ...

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2. The Society for the Cultivation of the Vine and Olive

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pp. 33-60

The post-1815 exiles from France were welcomed as heroes by the American population at large. Bonapartist sentiment, however, had little to do with the enthusiastic reception. While citizens of the United States recognized Napoleon as one of the great figures of the age, they also understood that his regime was based on principles antithetical to their own. So why were the exiles, who included prominent servitors of that alien regime, received so warmly? ...

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3. Double and Treble Treachery

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pp. 61-85

The European diplomatic corps in the United States followed closely the activities of the French expatriates.1 The French ambassador feared that, unless occupied in some wholesome enterprise like the Vine and Olive colony, the exiles might give in to the temptation of adventurous or revolutionary pursuits. Other European ambassadors shared his concern that men such as ...

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4. Ultra-Quixotism: The Bonapartist Invasion of Texas

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pp. 86-116

The discovery of the Lakanal papers effectively killed the plot to put Joseph Bonaparte on a Mexican throne—if such a plot ever really existed.1 But not all the French exiles abandoned the idea of intervening in the turbulent affairs of New Spain. In the summer of 1817 the recently arrived Gen. Charles Lallemand set in motion an audacious plan to establish a fortified camp in the ...

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5. The Vine and Olive Colony [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 117-147

While Lallemand had been engaged in his fool’s mission, the Society for the Cultivation of the Vine and Olive persisted with its plans. By 1822 close to 70 of the original grantees had spent some time on the grant—a figure nowhere n ear the 3 47 who had received allotments. Conditions there also fell short of the settlers’ expectations. The difficulty of clearing the forested terrain, shortage of labor, lack of infrastructure, oppressively hot climate, and ...

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6. The Fate of Vine and Olive

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pp. 159-174

What became of the grantees of the Vine and Olive colony? Some would lead lives of action and adventure; others would enjoy the comforts of family and wealth; and still others would pass the remainder of their days in laborious obscurity. But whatever course their lives took, for only a few did it lead to western Alabama. To be sure, many Vine and Olive shareholders remained in the Gulf South, but they ...

Appendix: The Grantees and Their Allotments

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pp. 175-227

Notes

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pp. 229-275

Bibliography

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pp. 277-296

Index

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pp. 298-302