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Bonapartists in the Borderlands

French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815–1835

Written by Rafe Blaufarb

The ill-fated Vine and Olive Colony within the context of America’s westward expansion and the French Revolution.

Bonapartists in the Borderlands recounts how Napoleonic exiles and French refugees from Europe and the Caribbean joined forces with Latin American insurgents, Gulf pirates, and international adventurers to seek their fortune in the Gulf borderlands.  The U.S. Congress welcomed the French to American and granted them a large tract of rich Black Belt land near Demopolis, Alabama, on the condition that they would establish a Mediterranean-style Vine and Olive colony.

This book debunks the standard account of the colony, which stresses the failure of the aristocratic, luxury-loving French to tame the wilderness.  Instead, it shows that the Napoleonic officers involved in the colony sold their land shares to speculators to finance an even more perilous adventure--invading the contested Texas borderlands between Spain and the U.S.  Their departure left the Vine adn Olive colony in the hands of French refugees fromthe Haitian slave revolt.  While thay soon abandoned vine cultivation, they successfully recast themselves as prosperous, slaveholding cotton growers and gradually fused into a new elite with newly-arrived Anglo-American planters.

Rafe Blaufarb examines the underlying motivations and aims that inspired this endeavor and details the nitty-gritty politics, economics, and backroom bargaining that resulted in the settlement.  He employs a wide variety of local, national, and international resources:  from documents held by the Alabama State Archives, Marengo County court records, and French-language newspapers published in America to material from the War Ministry Archives at Vincennes, the Diplomatic Archives at the Quai d'Orasy, adn the French National Archives.

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Born of Water and Spirit

The Baptist Impulse in Kentucky, 1776-1860

Richard C. Traylor

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Bourbon Street

A History

Richard Campanella

New Orleans is a city of many storied streets, but only one conjures up as much unbridled passion as it does fervent hatred, simultaneously polarizing the public while drawing millions of visitors a year. A fascinating investigation into the mile-long urban space that is Bourbon Street, Richard Campanella's comprehensive cultural history spans from the street's inception during the colonial period through three tu-multuous centuries, arriving at the world-famous entertainment strip of today.

Clearly written and carefully researched, Campanella's book interweaves world events -- from the Louisiana Purchase to World War II to Hurricane Katrina -- with local and national characters, ranging from presidents to showgirls, to explain how Bourbon Street became an intri-guing and singular artifact, uniquely informative of both New Orleans's history and American society.

While offering a captivating historical-geographical panorama of Bourbon Street, Campanella also presents a contemporary microview of the area, describing the population, architecture, and local economy, and shows how Bourbon Street operates on a typical night. The fate of these few blocks in the French Quarter is played out on a larger stage, however, as the internationally recognized brands that Bourbon Street merchants and the city of New Orleans strive to promote both clash with and complement each other.

An epic narrative detailing the influence of politics, money, race, sex, organized crime, and tourism, Bourbon Street: A History ultimately demonstrates that one of the most well-known addresses in North America is more than the epicenter of Mardi Gras; it serves as a battle-ground for a fund-amental dispute over cultural authenticity and commodification.

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The Boy from Altheimer

From the Depression to the Boardroom

Bill Bowen’s memoir deals with many of the most important events and years in Arkansas history in the twentieth century.

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The Breckinridges of Kentucky

James C. Klotter

Across more than six generations -- beginning before the Revolutionary War -- the Breckinridge family has produced a series of notable leaders. These often controversial men and women included a presidential candidate, a U.S. vice president, cabinet members, generals, women's rights advocates, congressmen, editors, reformers, authors, and church leaders. Along with success, the Breckinridges, like other Americans, faced hardship and war, contended with race, lived through difficult family situations -- including a sex scandal -- and encountered personal and political failure. An articulate, opinionated, and frank family, the Breckinridges have left a detailed record that allows us a vivid recreation of the range of American history and society.

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The British Gentry, the Southern Planter, and the Northern Family Farmer

Agriculture and Sectional Antagonism in North America

James L. Huston

Drawing on the history of the British gentry to explain the contrasting sentiments of American small farmers and plantation owners, James L. Huston's expansive analysis offers a new understanding of the socioeconomic factors that fueled sectionalism and ignited the American Civil War. This groundbreaking study of agriculture's role in the war defies long-held notions that northern industrialization and urbanization led to clashes between North and South. Rather, Huston argues that the ideological chasm between plantation owners in the South and family farmers in the North led to the political eruption of 1854-56 and the birth of a sectionalized party system.

Huston shows that over 70 percent of the northern population-by far the dominant economic and social element-had close ties to agriculture. More invested in egalitarianism and personal competency than in capitalism, small farmers in the North operated under a free labor ideology that emphasized the ideals of independence and mastery over oneself. The ideology of the plantation, by contrast, reflected the conservative ethos of the British aristocracy, which was the product of immense landed inequality and the assertion of mastery over others.

By examining the dominant populations in northern and southern congressional districts, Huston reveals that economic interests pitted the plantation South against the small-farm North. The northern shift toward Republicanism depended on farmers, not industrialists: While Democrats won the majority of northern farm congressional districts from 1842 to 1853, they suffered a major defection of these districts from 1854 to 1856, to the antislavery organizations that would soon coalesce into the Republican Party. Utilizing extensive historical research and close examination of the voting patterns in congressional districts across the country, James Huston provides a remarkable new context for the origins of the Civil War.

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Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women

Illegal Sex in Antebellum New Orleans

Judith Kelleher Schafer

Winner of the 2009 Gulf South Historical Association Book Award When a priest suggested to one of the first governors of Louisiana that he banish all disreputable women to raise the colony’s moral tone, the governor responded, “If I send away all the loose females, there will be no women left here at all.” Primitive, mosquito infested, and disease ridden, early French colonial New Orleans offered few attractions to entice respectable women as residents. King Louis XIV of France solved the population problem in 1721 by emptying Paris’s La Salpêtrière prison of many of its most notorious prostitutes and convicts and sending them to Louisiana. Many of these women continued to ply their trade in New Orleans. In Brothels, Depravity, and Abandoned Women, Judith Kelleher Schafer examines case histories from the First District Court of New Orleans and tells the engrossing story of prostitution in the city prior to the Civil War. Louisiana law did not criminalize the selling of sex until the Progressive Era, although the law forbade keeping a brothel. Police arrested individual public women on vague charges, for being “lewd and abandoned” or vagrants. The city’s wealthy and influential landlords, some of whom made huge profits by renting their property as brothels, wanted their tenants back on the streets as soon as possible, and they often hired the best criminal attorneys to help release the women from jail. The courts, in turn, often treated these “public women” leniently, exacting small fines or sending them to the city’s workhouse for a few months. As a result, prosecutors dropped almost all prostitution cases before trial. Relying on previously unexamined court records and newly available newspaper articles, Schafer ably details the brutal and often harrowing lives of the women and young girls who engaged in prostitution. Some watched as gangs of rowdy men smashed their furniture; some endured beatings by their customers or other public women enraged by fits of jealousy; others were murdered. Schafer discusses the sexual exploitation of children, sex across the color line, violence among and against public women, and the city’s feeble attempts to suppress the trade. She also profiles several infamous New Orleans sex workers, including Delia Swift, alias Bridget Fury, a flaming redhead with a fondness for stabbing men, and Emily Eubanks and her daughter Elisabeth, free women of color known for assaulting white women. Although scholars have written much about prostitution in New Orleans’ Storyville era, few historical studies on prostitution in antebellum New Orleans exist. Schafer’s rich analysis fills this gap and offers insight into an intriguing period in the history of the “oldest profession” in the Crescent City.

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Brown's Battleground

Students, Segregationists, and the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia

Jill Ogline Titus

In 1959, Prince Edward County, Virginia, abolished its public school system in opposition to the landmark decision against school segregation, Brown v. Board of Education. It took five years and another Supreme Court decision for the county to reopen public school doors. Titus explores the background of the crisis, the period in which the schools were closed, and the repercussions of this educational tragedy. She focuses on the years between 1951 (when black students walked out of the decrepit Moton High School) and 1969 (when black students staged a second strike), but also carries the story up to the present to demonstrate the consequences of the county's years of massive resistance to desegregation. Titus show that the Prince Edward County story is a vital chapter of America's civil rights story. While there have been journalistic, autobiographical, and fictional stories about the educational crisis, there has been no scholarly treatment of the subject. In 1965 the Press published journalist Bob Smith's They Closed Their Schools: Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1951-1964. However, Titus has a wealth of new archival material to draw upon and takes a broader perspective.

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Builders of a New South

Merchants, Capital, and the Remaking of Natchez, 1865–1914

Aaron D. Anderson

Builders of a New South describes how, between 1865 and 1914, ten Natchez mercantile families emerged as leading purveyors in the wholesale plantation supply and cotton handling business, and soon became a dominant force in the social and economic Reconstruction of the Natchez District. They were able to take advantage of postwar conditions in Natchez to gain mercantile prominence by supplying planters and black sharecroppers in the plantation supply and cotton buying business. They parlayed this initial success into cotton plantation ownership and became important local businessmen in Natchez, participating in many civic improvements and politics that shaped the district into the twentieth century.

This book digs deep in countless records (including census, tax, property, and probate, as well as thousands of chattel mortgage contracts) to explore how these traders functioned as entrepreneurs in the aftermath of the Civil War, examining closely their role as furnishing merchants and land speculators, as well as their relations with the area's planters and freed black population. Their use of favorable laws protecting them as creditors, along with a solid community base that was civic-minded and culturally intact, greatly assisted them in their success. These families prospered partly because of their good business practices, and partly because local whites and blacks embraced them as useful agents in the emerging new marketplace. The situation created by the aftermath of the war and emancipation provided an ideal circumstance for the merchant families, and in the end, they played a key role in the district's economic survival and were the prime modernizers of Natchez.

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Buoyancy on the Bayou

Shrimpers Face the Rising Tide of Globalization

by Jill Ann Harrison

Over the past several decades, shrimp has transformed from a luxury food to a kitchen staple. While shrimp-loving consumers have benefited from the lower cost of shrimp, domestic shrimp fishers have suffered, particularly in Louisiana. Most of the shrimp that we eat today is imported from shrimp farms in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The flood of imported shrimp has sent dockside prices plummeting, and rising fuel costs have destroyed the profit margin for shrimp fishing as a domestic industry.

In Buoyancy on the Bayou, Jill Ann Harrison portrays the struggles that Louisiana shrimp fishers endure to remain afloat in an industry beset by globalization. Her in-depth interviews with more than fifty individuals working in or associated with shrimp fishing in a small town in Louisiana offer a portrait of shrimp fishers' lives just before the BP oil spill in 2010, which helps us better understand what has happened since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Harrison shows that shrimp fishers go through a careful calculation of noneconomic costs and benefits as they grapple to figure out what their next move will be. Many willingly forgo opportunities in other industries to fulfill what they perceive as their cultural calling. Others reluctantly leave fishing behind for more lucrative work, but they mourn the loss of a livelihood upon which community and family structures are built. In this gripping account of the struggle to survive amid the waves of globalization, Harrison focuses her analysis at the intersection of livelihood, family, and community and casts a bright light upon the cultural importance of the work that we do.

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