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A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of Americaby Jon Kukla
Synopses & Reviews
The remarkable story of the land purchase that doubled the size of our young nation, set the stage for its expansion across the continent, and confronted Americans with new challenges of ethnic and religious diversity. In a saga that stretches from Paris and Madrid to Haiti, Virginia, New York, and New Orleans, Jon Kukla shows how rivalries over the Mississippi River and its vast watershed brought France, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States to the brink of war and shaped the destiny of the new American republic. We encounter American leaders--Jefferson and Jay, Monroe and Pickering among them--clashing over the opening of the West and its implications for sectional balance of power. We see these disagreements nearly derailing the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and spawning a series of separatist conspiracies long before the dispute over slavery in the territory set the stage for the Missouri Compromise and the Civil War.
Kukla makes it clear that as the French Revolution and Napoleons empire-building rocked the Atlantic community, Spains New World empire grew increasingly vulnerable to American and European rivals. Jefferson hoped to take Spains territories--piece by piece,--while Napoleon schemed to reestablish a French colonial empire in the Caribbean and North America.
Interweaving the stories of ordinary settlers and imperial decision-makers, Kukla depicts a world of revolutionary intrigue that transformed a small and precarious union into a world power--all without bloodshed and for about four cents an acre.
"Lively account of America?s first giant step toward empire....Kukla lifts his eyes above the conference table to show how accidents of history hastened the acquisition of the Louisiana territory along....A worthy additional contribution to the burgeoning literature, timed for the bicentennial of Mr. Jefferson?s vast acquisition." Kirkus Reviews
"Kukla is a master storyteller. Four countries, four centuries, a dozen intrigues, and one fascinating tale of nation-building." Joyce Appleby, author of Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans
"A wonderful story, wonderfully told. The richness of detail and freshness of insight combined with the power of its narrative flow should make the book a winner for the historian and the general reader alike." W.W. Abbot, Editor Emeritus of The Papers of George Washington
"Kukla's fast-paced narrative has it all. An epic story, ranging from the capitals of Europe to the Haitian revolution to the Mississippi Valley. Diplomacy and war, duplicity and bribery, ambition and continental vision. The Louisiana Purchase was the climax of a fascinating series of events. In this book they come together as never before." Charles Royster, author of The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company
Includes bibliographical references (p. 365-416) and index.
About the Author
Jon Kukla received his B.A. from Carthage College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has directed historical research and publishing at the Library of Virginia and has been curator and director of the Historic New Orleans Collection. In 2000 he returned to Virginia as director of the Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation. He lives in Brookneal, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Piece by piece — Carlos III and Spanish Louisiana — Poor Colonel Monroe! — Long train of intrigue — Touch of a feather — Bourbons on the rocks — Questions of loyalty — Banners of blood — New era in world history — Mr. Pinckney's mission — Affairs of Louisiana — Embryo of a Tornado — Selling a ship — Midnight in the garden of Rue Trudon — Immense wilderness — Fluctuations of the political thermometer — Various gabble of tongues — Treaty of 1795 between the United States and Spain — Louisiana purchase treaty — Louisiana purchase conventions — Draft Amendments to the Constitution, July-August 1803.
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