Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815-1835

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9780817314873: Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815-1835



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 America 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 and Olive colony in the hands of French refugees from the Haitian slave revolt.  While they 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, and the French National Archives.

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About the Author:

Rafe Blaufarb is Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. He is author of The French Army, 1750–1820: Careers, Talent, Merit (Manchester, 2002). Blaufarb has also published articles in the American Historical Review, Annales, H.S.S., and many more.

Review:

"In March 1817, the US Congress granted 144 square miles of land near the confluence of the Tombigbee and Black Warrior rivers to the Society for the Cultivation of the Vine and Olive, a group of French refugees who claimed that they wanted to practice viticulture in the region. This agreement created the romantic 19th-century myth of the Vine and Olive colony as an agricultural utopia and escape for aristocratic French refugees, as well as a haven for a possibly soon-to-be liberated Napoleon. Yet such was not the case. Congress granted the fertile Black Belt lands in order to establish a US presence on the southwestern lands secured during the War of 1812. Moreover, most French refugees had little intention of practicing viticulture. Many grantees immediately sold their lands to finance the 1818 Charles Lallemand invasion of the Spanish Texas borderlands, while most of the remaining soon abandoned vine cultivation for the more profitable cotton farming. By focusing on the local story of the Vine and Olive experience, Blaufarb (Auburn Univ.) illustrates how this venture became part of the much larger national and transatlantic geopolitical upheaval that defined the gulf borderlands. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries."
CHOICE

“This meticulously researched and well-written volume gives additional dimension and historical understanding to the complexities of the antebellum South.”
The Journal of Southern History

[. . .} Blaufarb’s book skillfully distinguishes groups of French migrants made visi ble by conventions post-Reconstructino mythmaking from other, more invisible groups of francophone immigrants who resided in the United States during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The range of interpretive horizons opened by this ambitiously conceived monograph is stunning.”
American Historical Review
 

“This is an ambitious, very well written, extensively researched book. . . .The author situates it at the intersection of public land policy, western expansionism, and the Latin American independence movement.” -- Michael A. Morrison, author of Slavery and the American West

“A well researched and intriguing book. . . . Professor Blaufarb focuses the reader’s attention to the flight of Bonapartists from France and combines the development of the Vine and Olive Colony with the struggle between Spain and the United States for control of the borderlands of the Southeast and the revolt of Spain’s colonies in Latin and South America.”-- Joe B. Wilkins, University of West Alabama 

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Book Description The University of Alabama Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 2nd ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 adventures to seek their fortune in the Gulf borderlands. The U.S. Congress welcomed the French to America 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 and Olive colony in the hands of French refugees from the Haitian slave revolt. While they 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 Orsay, and the French National Archives. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780817314873

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Book Description The University of Alabama Press, United States, 2006. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 2nd ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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 adventures to seek their fortune in the Gulf borderlands. The U.S. Congress welcomed the French to America 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 and Olive colony in the hands of French refugees from the Haitian slave revolt. While they 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 Orsay, and the French National Archives. Bookseller Inventory # AAN9780817314873

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