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Empires of the Imagination

Transatlantic Histories of the Louisiana Purchase

edited by Peter J. Kastor and François Weil

Publication Year: 2009

Empires of the Imagination takes the Louisiana Purchase as a point of departure for a compelling new discussion of the interaction between France and the United States. In addition to offering the first substantive synthesis of this transatlantic relationship, the essays collected here offer new interpretations on themes vital to the subject, ranging from political culture to intercultural contact to ethnic identity. They capture the cultural breadth of the territories encompassed by the Louisiana Purchase, exploring not only French and Anglo-American experiences, but also those of Native Americans and African Americans.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-22

In 2003, the United States and France found themselves at odds. As the United States prepared for war, France emerged as one of the most vocal critics of military operations in Iraq. It was a dispute that unleashed passions in both countries...

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Prologue: Jefferson, Louisiana, and American Nationhood

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pp. 23-33

For Thomas Jefferson, the westward expansion of the new United States epitomized the progress of civilization. Near the end of his life, he looked back on the new nation’s history. “Let a philosophic observer commence a journey...

Empire

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pp. 35-140

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The Louisiana Purchase and the Fictions of Empire

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pp. 37-61

For all practical purposes, early nineteenth-century French Louisiana consisted of New Orleans, a corridor along the Mississippi, and fingers of land extending up the major western tributaries of the Mississippi, but the Louisiana Purchase...

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From Incorporation to Exclusion: Indians, Europeans, and Americans in the Mississippi Valley from 1699 to 1830

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pp. 62-92

The history of intercultural relations in the North American interior was nothing if not complex. Throughout the eighteenth century, a place that came to be called “Louisiana” came into being through the intersection of imperial rivalry...

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The Haitian Revolution and the Sale of Louisiana; or, Thomas Jefferson’s (Unpaid) Debt to Jean-Jacques Dessalines

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pp. 93-116

From the perspective of the history of France and its Atlantic empire, what in the United States is known as the “Louisiana Purchase” is remembered as the “Sale of Louisiana.” And it has traditionally been interpreted as primarily, if not exclusively...

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A Tornado on the Horizon: The Jefferson Administration, the Retrocession Crisis, and the Louisiana Purchase

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pp. 117-140

In the spring of 1801, during the first months of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, news began to reach the United States of a recent, secret agreement between France and Spain. Newspapers, private letters, reports by merchants and other travelers...

Identity

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pp. 141-298

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The Louisiana Purchase in the Demographic Perspective of its Time

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pp. 143-179

The amount of territory included in the Louisiana Purchase has relegated to a second plan the number of people who lived there. It added 827,000 square miles of land to the United States, almost doubling the previous area...

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Refracted Reformations and the Making of Republicans

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pp. 180-203

When he visited New Orleans in 1805, the Philadelphia journalist John Watson recorded his impressions of the new American city with the careful descriptive detail latter-day anthropologists employ in their field notes...

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Slave Migrations and Slave Control in Spanish and Early American New Orleans

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pp. 204-238

The period that broadly frames the Louisiana Purchase was a period marked by intense slave migrations that today remain partly undocumented and largely misunderstood. In the present essay, I have seemingly simple objectives...

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“They Are All Frenchmen”: Background and Nation in an Age of Transformation

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pp. 239-267

Pierre Derbigny was a Frenchman — some of the time. He certainly came from France. He was born in Laon in 1769. Napoleon Bonaparte was born that same year, and both men faced reversed versions of the same challenge. Where Napoleon had to convince...

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Edward Livingston, America, and France: Making Law

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pp. 268-298

What does it mean to be an American? That question, perhaps still confounding today, was even more confusing in the aftermath of the Louisiana Purchase. In recent years, historians have made great strides toward defining...

Memory

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pp. 299-364

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The Purchase and the Making of French Louisiana

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pp. 301-326

Lafayette’s five-day visit to New Orleans in April 1825 was quite an event. The “Nation’s guest” was received with extraordinary respect. The Cabildo was chosen to serve as his accommodations and cleaned, repaired, and refurnished for the occasion...

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Celebration and History: The Case of the Louisiana Purchase

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pp. 327-364

Historical celebrations uneasily combine authentic or reconstructed memory with political goals. So historians may rightly feel they are acting under constraint when they are involved in such projects, while government officials cannot organize...

List of Contributors

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pp. 365-366

Index

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pp. 367-370


E-ISBN-13: 9780813928173
E-ISBN-10: 0813928176
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813928074
Print-ISBN-10: 0813928079

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 3 figures, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Jeffersonian America

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Civilization -- French influences.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • United States -- Territorial expansion -- History -- 19th century.
  • France -- Relations -- United States.
  • United States -- Relations -- France.
  • Louisiana Purchase.
  • National characteristics, American.
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