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Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause
Albert Taylor Bledsoe (1809–1877), a principal architect of the South’s “Lost Cause” mythology, remains one of the Civil War generation’s most controversial intellectuals. In Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause, Terry A. Barnhart sheds new light on this provocative figure. Bledsoe gained a respectable reputation in the 1840s and 1850s as a metaphysician and speculative theologian. His two major works, An Examination of President Edwards’ Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (1845) and A Theodicy; Or, Vindication of the Divine Glory, As Manifested in the Constitution and Government of the Moral World (1853), grapple with perplexing problems connected with causality, Christian theology, and moral philosophy. His fervent defense of slavery and the constitutional right of secession, however, solidified Bledsoe as one of the chief proponents of the idea of the Old South. In An Essay on Liberty and Slavery (1856), he assailed egalitarianism and promoted the institution of slavery as a positive good. A decade later, he continued to devote himself to fashioning the “Lost Cause” narrative as the editor and proprietor of the Southern Review from 1867 until his death in 1877. He carried on a literary tradition aimed to reconcile white southerners to what he and they viewed as the indignity of their defeat by sanctifying their lost cause. Those who fought for the Confederacy, he argued, were not traitors but honorable men who sacrificed for noble reasons. This biography skillfully weaves Bledsoe’s extraordinary life history into a narrative that illustrates the events that shaped his opinions and influenced his writings. Barnhart demonstrates how Bledsoe still speaks directly, and sometimes eloquently, to the core issues that divided the nation in the 1860s and continue to haunt it today.
A Russian Grand Duke's Tour, 1871-1872
In the autumn of 1871, Alexis Romanov, the fourth son of Tsar Alexander II of Russia, set sail from his homeland for an extended journey through the United States and Canada. A major milestone in U.S.-Russia relations, the tour also served Duke Alexis's family by helping to extricate him from an unsuitable romantic entanglement with the daughter of a poet. Alexis in America recounts the duke's progress through the major American cities, detailing his meetings with celebrated figures such as Samuel Morse and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and describing the national self-reflection that his presence spurred in the American people. The first Russian royal ever to visit the United States, Alexis received a tour through post-Civil War America that emphasized the nation's cultural unity. While the enthusiastic American media breathlessly reported every detail of his itinerary and entourage, Alexis visited Niagara Falls, participated in a bison hunt with Buffalo Bill Cody, and attended the Krewe of Rex's first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. As word of the royal visitor spread, the public flocked to train depots and events across the nation to catch a glimpse of the grand duke. Some speculated that Russia and America were considering a formal alliance, while others surmised that he had come to the United States to find a bride. The tour was not without incident: many city officials balked at spending public funds on Alexis's reception, and there were rumors of an assassination plot by Polish nationals in New York City. More broadly, the visit highlighted problems on the national level, such as political corruption and persistent racism, as well as the emerging cultural and political power of ethnic minorities and the continuing sectionalism between the North and the South. Lee Farrow joins her examination of these cultural underpinnings to a lively narrative of the grand duke's tour, creating an engaging record of a unique moment in international relations.
All Souls: Essential Poems brings together work that reflects the interweaving of history, memory, and the indelible bonds between living and dead that has marked the output of Louisiana Poet Laureate Emerita Brenda Marie Osbey. Comprising poems written and published over the span of four decades, this thematic collection highlights the unity of Osbey’s voice and narrative intent.
The six sections of the book reveal the breadth of her poetic vision. The first, “House in the Faubourg,” contains poems focused on the people and places of Osbey’s native New Orleans, and the penultimate section, “Unfinished Coffees,” examines the Crescent City within a broader, more contemporary meditation on culture. “Something about Trains” features two suites of poems that use trains and railway stations as settings from which to inspect desolation, writing, and memory; and “Little History, Part One” recounts tales of European settlement and exploitation of the New World. The poems in “What Hunger” look at the many facets of desire, while “Mourning Like a Skin” includes elegies and poems addressing the lasting presence of the dead.
Dynamic and unflinching, the poems in All Souls speak of a world with many secrets, known “only through having learned them / the hardest way.”
Wealth, Honor, and Gentility in the South Carolina Lowcountry
William Kauffman Scarborough’s absorbing biography, The Allstons of Chicora Wood, chronicles the history of a South Carolina planter family from the opulent antebellum years through the trauma of the Civil War and postwar period. Scarborough’s examination of this extraordinarily enterprising family focuses on patriarch Robert R. F. W. Allston, his wife Adele Petigru Allston, and their daughter Elizabeth Allston Pringle Scarborough. Scarborough shows how Allston, in the four decades before the Civil War, converted a small patrimony into a Lowcountry agricultural empire of seven rice plantations, all the while earning an international reputation for the quality of his rice and his expertise. Scarborough also examines Allston’s twenty-eight-year career in the state legislature and as governor from 1856 to 1858. Upon his death in 1864, Robert Allston’s wife of thirty-two years, Adele, found herself at the head of the family. Scarborough traces how she successfully kept the family plantations afloat in the postwar years through a series of decisions that exhibited her astute business judgment and remarkable strength of character. In the next generation, one of the Allstons’ five children followed a similar path. Elizabeth “Bessie” Allston took over management of the remaining family plantations upon the death of her husband and, in order to pay off the plantation mortgages, embarked on a highly successful literary career. Bessie authored two books, the first treating her experiences as a woman rice planter and the second describing her childhood before the war. A major contribution to southern history, The Allstons of Chicora Wood provides a fascinating look at a prominent southern family that survived the traumas of war and challenges of Reconstruction.
Past and Present on Louisiana's Historic Byway
Few thoroughfares offer as rich a history as Louisiana’s River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. In this third edition of her extremely popular guide, Along the River Road, Mary Ann Sternberg provides a revised introduction, new images, and updated information on sites and attractions as well as tales and local lore about favorite and overlooked destinations. Featuring background information about the area and a detailed guided tour—upriver on the east bank and downriver along the west—the book gives an overview of the River Road, serving as an accessible and definitive companion to exploring the corridor. Sternberg’s abiding appreciation of the area’s allure—garnered over twenty years of visiting—produces a must-have travel companion to a place that far exceeds its common reputation as only a parade of elegant antebellum mansions. In this new edition, she again encourages travelers to experience the many treasures of this wondrous byway for themselves, seeing how much it has changed over the last decade.
Oil and Gas Development in Louisiana's Wetlands
In the post--World War II era, Louisiana's coastal wetlands underwent an industrial transformation that placed the region at the center of America's energy-producing corridor. By the twenty-first century the Louisiana Gulf Coast supplied nearly one-third of America's oil and gas, accounted for half of the country's refining capacity, and contributed billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. Today, thousands of miles of pipelines and related infrastructure link the state's coast to oil and gas consumers nationwide. During the course of this historic development, however, the dredging of pipeline canals accelerated coastal erosion. Currently, 80 percent of the United States' wetland loss occurs on Louisiana's coast despite the fact that the state is home to only 40 percent of the nation's wetland acreage, making evident the enormous unin-tended environmental cost associated with producing energy from the Gulf Coast.
In American Energy, Imperiled Coast Jason P. Theriot explores the tension between oil and gas development and the land-loss crisis in Louisiana. His book offers an engaging analysis of both the impressive, albeit ecologically destructive, engineering feats that characterized industrial growth in the region and the mounting environmental problems that threaten south Louisiana's communities, culture, and "working" coast. As a historian and coastal Louisiana native, Theriot explains how pipeline technology enabled the expansion of oil and gas delivery -- examining previously unseen photographs and company records -- and traces the industry's far-reaching environmental footprint in the wetlands. Through detailed research presented in a lively and accessible narrative, Theriot pieces together decades of political, economic, social, and cultural undertakings that clashed in the 1980s and 1990s, when local citizens, scientists, politicians, environmental groups, and oil and gas interests began fighting over the causes and consequences of coastal land loss. The mission to restore coastal Louisiana ultimately collided with the perceived economic necessity of expanding offshore oil and gas development at the turn of the twenty-first century. Theriot's book bridges the gap between these competing objectives.
From the discovery of oil and gas below the marshes around coastal salt domes in the 1920s and 1930s to the emergence of environmental sciences and policy reforms in the 1970s to the vast repercussions of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, American Energy, Imperiled Coast ultimately reveals that the natural and man-made forces responsible for rapid environmental change in Louisiana's wetlands over the past century can only be harnessed through collaboration between public and private entities.
Multiethnic Writing in the Age of Realism
American Narratives takes readers back to the turn of the twentieth century to reintroduce four writers of varying ethnic backgrounds whose works were mostly ignored by critics of their day. With the skill of a literary detective, Molly Crumpton Winter recovers an early multicultural discourse on assimilation and national belonging that has been largely overlooked by literary scholars. At the heart of the book are close readings of works by four nearly forgotten artists from 1890 to 1915, the era often termed the age of realism: Mary Antin, a Jewish American immigrant from Russia; Zitkala-Ša, a Sioux woman originally from South Dakota; Sutton E. Griggs, an African American from the South; and Sui Sin Far, a biracial, Chinese American female writer who lived on the West Coast. Winter's treatment of Antin's The Promised Land serves as an occasion for a reexamination of the concept of assimilation in American literature, and the chapter on Zitkala-Ša is the most comprehensive analysis of her narratives to date. Winter argues persuasively that Griggs should have long been a more visible presence in American literary history, and the exploration of Sui Sin Far reveals her to be the embodiment of the varied and unpredictable ways that diversity of cultures came together in America. In American Narratives, Winter maintains that the writings of these four rediscovered authors, with their emphasis on issues of ethnicity, identity, and nationality, fit squarely in the American realist tradition. She also establishes a multiethnic dialogue among these writers, demonstrating ways in which cultural identity and national belonging are peristently contested in this literature.
Stephen Duncan of Antebellum Natchez and New York
Extraordinarily wealthy and influential, Stephen Duncan (1787-1867) was a landowner, slaveholder, and financier with a remarkable array of social, economic, and political contacts in pre-Civil War America. In this, the first biography of Duncan, Martha Jane Brazy offers a compelling new portrait of antebellum life through exploration of Duncan's multifaceted personal networks in both the South and the North. Duncan grew up in an elite Pennsylvania family with strong business ties in Philadelphia. There was little indication, though, that he would become a cosmopolitan entrepreneur who would own over fifteen plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, collectively owning more than two thousand slaves. With style and substance, Martha Jane Brazy describes both the development of Duncan's businesses and the lives of the slaves on whose labor his empire was constructed. According to Brazy, Duncan was a hybrid, not fully a southerner or a northerner. He was also, Brazy shows, a paradox. Although he put down deep roots in Natchez, his sphere of influence was national in scope. Although his wealth was greatly dependent on the slaves he owned, he predicted a clash over the issue of slave ownership nearly three decades before the onset of the Civil War. Perhaps more than any other planter studied, Duncan contradicts historians' definition of the southern slaveholding aristocracy. By connecting and contrasting the networks of this elite planter and those he enslaved, Brazy provides new insights into the slaveocracy of antebellum America.
Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal
Irish Americans who supported the movement for the repeal of the act of parliamentary union between Ireland and Great Britain during the early 1840s encountered controversy over the issue of American slavery. Encouraged by abolitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, repeal leader Daniel O’Connell often spoke against slavery, issuing appeals for Irish Americans to join the antislavery cause. With each speech, American repeal associations debated the proper response to such sentiments and often chose not to support abolition. In American Slavery, Irish Freedom, Angela F. Murphy examines the interactions among abolitionists, Irish nationalists, and American citizens as the issues of slavery and abolition complicated the first transatlantic movement for Irish independence. The call of Old World loyalties, perceived duties of American citizenship, and regional devotions collided for these Irish Americans as the slavery issue intertwined with their efforts on behalf of their homeland. By looking at the makeup and rhetoric of the American repeal associations, the pressures on Irish Americans applied by both abolitionists and American nativists, and the domestic and transatlantic political situation that helped to define the repealers’ response to antislavery appeals, Murphy investigates and explains why many Irish Americans did not support abolitionism. Murphy refutes theories that Irish immigrants rejected the abolition movement primarily for reasons of religion, political affiliation, ethnicity, or the desire to assert a white racial identity. Instead, she suggests, their position emerged from Irish Americans’ intention to assert their loyalty toward their new republic during what was for them a very uncertain time. The first book-length study of the Irish repeal movement in the United States, American Slavery, Irish Freedom conveys the dilemmas that Irish Americans grappled with as they negotiated their identity and adapted to the duties of citizenship within a slaveholding republic, shedding new light on the societal pressures they faced as the values of that new republic underwent tremendous change.