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Title: Building the Land of Dreams: The American Transformation of New Orleans, 1795-1820
Authors: Faber, Eberhard L.
Advisors: Wilentz, Sean
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Claiborne
New Orleans
Subjects: History
American studies
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: New Orleans was attached to the new American republic in a gradual process that stretched over a quarter-century: starting economically, with Pinckney's Treaty in 1795, then politically, with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and culturally, in a prolonged transformation that lasted well into the nineteenth century. At the same time, the city grew explosively, from a peripheral colonial outpost to a major Atlantic world commercial city, finally becoming the urban cotton-and-sugar capital of the slave South. Throughout these linked processes of attachment and growth, the city was a site of social struggle, as a conservative, Creole-dominated planter-merchant elite sought to defend its economic primacy and social prerogatives against encroachments from both American newcomers and the federal government. The conflict between local autonomy and national authority played out on several battlegrounds: the controversy over slavery's expansion in the Orleans Territory; the shape of the region's future legal system; and the social question of who (if anyone) would direct the rapid growth and development of New Orleans. Thomas Jefferson's idea of republican empire rejected coercive authority and the traditional trappings of state power in favor of consent and mutual interest. But Jefferson did not believe that Louisiana's inhabitants could truly become American republicans until American immigration demographically reshaped the territory. This never happened, and as a result elite Louisianians were able to prevail over American newcomers on almost every major issue. The New Orleans oligarchy was able to protect and expand slavery, and institute a harsh new racial regime; skeptical creole planters, their colonial wealth and privileges intact, learned to stop worrying and love republicanism. The decentralized Jeffersonian state could not guarantee Louisiana's loyalty by any means short of conceding near-limitless local autonomy. New Orleans was transformed into the great American metropolis of the antebellum South, not by surrendering local interests or identities, but by intensifying them.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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