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Coastal Encounters

The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century

Richmond F. Brown

Publication Year: 2008

Coastal Encounters opens a window onto the fascinating world of the eighteenth-century Gulf South. Stretching from Florida to Texas, the region witnessed the complex collision of European, African, and Native American peoples. The Gulf South offered an extraordinary stage for European rivalries to play out, allowed a Native-based frontier exchange system to develop alongside an emerging slave-based plantation economy, and enabled the construction of an urban network of unusual opportunity for free people of color. After being long-neglected in favor of the English colonies of the Atlantic coast, the colonial Gulf South has now become the focus of new and exciting scholarship.
Coastal Encounters brings together leading experts and emerging scholars to provide a portrait of the Gulf South in the eighteenth century. The contributors depict the remarkable transformations that took place—demographic, cultural, social, political, and economic—and examine the changes from multiple perspectives, including those of Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans; colonizers and colonized; men and women. The outstanding essays in this book argue for the central place of this dynamic region in colonial history.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, giving rise to the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States and bringing unprecedented—if unwanted—attention to the Gulf Coast region. A little more than three months later, on December 11, 2005, the New York Times fretted that the slow pace of the recovery efforts threatened ...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-13

As of 1685, according to Peter H. Wood, the native population of the South (from Virginia to Texas) numbered about two hundred thousand, a far cry from the approximately two million Native Americans who lived in North America east of the Mississippi River at the time of Columbus. ...

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2. The Significance of the Gulf South in Early American History

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pp. 14-30

There is some good news in the field of Early American History. The assumption that New England was the most important region in colonial America is receding, while other colonial regions of North America are gaining importance. For some time the populous English colony of Virginia has shared center stage with Massachusetts ...

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3. Escape of the Nickaleers: European-Indian Relations on the Wild Coast of Florida in 1696, from Jonathan Dickinson's Journal

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pp. 31-58

God’s Protecting Providence by Jonathan Dickinson, a Quaker merchant born and raised in Jamaica, is unique in early American literature. Part travel account, part sufferings relation of the sort that circulated within the Dissenter world, it recounts the adventures of a group of mariners and passengers, free and unfree, who sailed from Port Royal on September 2, 1696.1 ...

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4. Supplying Our Wants: Choctaws and Chickasaws Reassesses the Trade Relationship with Britain, 1771-72

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pp. 59-80

In late December 1771 2,312 Choctaw and Chickasaw men, women, and children descended on the small town of Mobile in the British colony of West Florida at the invitation of British Southern Indian Superintendent John Stuart. Between December 31, 1771, and January 23, 1772, they camped on the outskirts of Mobile ...

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5. The Founding of Tensaw: Kinship, Community, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Creek Nation

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pp. 81-98

As of 1799 Creek women in the Tensaw community, which was founded just after the American Revolution, farmed a string of about forty homesteads along the rich alluvial floodplain of present-day southwest Alabama. They grew corn, beans, and pumpkins, and soon they added cotton to their list of exported crops. ...

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6. A Nation Divided? Blood Seminoles and Black Seminoles on the Florida Frontier

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pp. 99-116

Daniel K. Richter concludes his book Facing East from Indian Country with Andrew Jackson’s bloody victories over the Red Stick Creeks and Seminoles of Florida and the triumph of the White Man’s republic. With the ensuing “removal” Richter writes, “the east at last ceased to be Indian country.”1 ...

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7. My Friend Nicolas Mongoula: Africans, Indians, and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Mobile

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pp. 117-131

In the eighteenth century European and African immigrants to what is now Alabama found themselves living in close proximity not only to one another but also to the region’s substantial and heterogeneous Amerindian populations.1 Like other colonial ports along the Gulf of Mexico, the social interactions in and around colonial Mobile often defy the clear-cut notions of racial identity commonly held in more recent times.2 ...

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8. Scoundrels, Whores, and Gentlemen: Defamation and Society in French Colonial Louisiana

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pp. 132-150

Between 1722 and 1753 at least sixty-one civil suits for insult or slander were recorded in Louisiana’s Superior Council Records.1 These include the French legal categories injures (insults), injures et voies de fait (physical assaults), and libelle (libel). At least twelve additional cases are documented in the colony’s official correspondence and private memoirs. ...

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9. Afro-Creole Women, Freedom, and Property-Holding in Early New Orleans

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pp. 151-166

At eleven o’clock in the morning of March 29, 1841, L. T. Caire, a wellknown New Orleans notary, arrived at the home of Cecile Bonille. Gravely ill, the thirty-four-year-old Bonille had summoned Caire to her house on St. Claude Street to record her last will and testament. Caire encountered the young woman lying in bed, “sick in body but not in mind.” ...

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10. Spanish Bourbons and Louisiana Tobacco, The Case of Natchitoches, 1763-1803

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pp. 167-186

Half a century after its founding in 1714, the French colonial settlement of Natchitoches, located on the Red River near the Louisiana-Texas frontier, was a moderately prosperous and stable town. French men, women, and children, most of whom were Creoles, or people born in Louisiana, made up a majority of the Natchitoches population. ...

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11. A History of Ranching in Nuevo Santander's Villas del Norte, 1730s-1848

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pp. 187-209

Situated along the Seno Mexicano (the northern Gulf of Mexico), La Colonia del Nuevo Santander rapidly gained importance in the eighteenth century because of New Spain’s need to defend its silver mines from French and English interlopers and the development of its vast lands. Organized in 1748–49, the gobierno of Nuevo Santander included present-day south Texas ...

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12. Maintaining Loyalty in the West Florida Borderlands: Land as Cause and Effect in the West Florida Revolution of 1810

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pp. 210-230

In 1810 French and Anglo subjects in the Spanish colony of West Florida carried out what contemporary Bostonians called a “little mimick revolution.”1 Historians have been similarly dismissive of the conflict that brought the area into the United States. Latin Americanists have tended to ignore the region altogether. ...

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13. Afterword

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pp. 231-240

By the early 1700s the Gulf South encompassed strikingly diverse societies that had experienced complex changes since Europeans first ventured there nearly two hundred years before. Yet even as economic, political, and social forces transformed the region once again during the turbulent eighteenth century, the Gulf South was poised on the brink of another major transition. ...


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pp. 241-280


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pp. 281-302


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pp. 303-306


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pp. 307-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780803213937
E-ISBN-10: 080321393X

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 6 maps, 2 figures, 17 tables, index
Publication Year: 2008