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Atlantic Loyalties: Americans in Spanish West Florida, 1785-1810

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0820330235
ISBN-10: 082033023X
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Editorial Reviews


One of the most impressive achievements of Atlantic Loyalties is to establish a road map for studying West Florida in particular and the southern borderlands in general. McMichael offers an important counterpart to the standard narrative of the system of British slavery that began in the upper South before heading South and West. Instead, we learn about a more complex and dynamic process through which enslavement and freedom, plantation agriculture and frontier settlement, regional connections and international tensions overlapped to shape life in North America.

(Peter Kastor author of The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America)

McMichael's book is a powerful argument for writing borderlands history from the ground up, concentrating on what actually happened in a given place and fitting that place into an Atlantic framework. The story of Anglo-American expansion into the Spanish borderlands has traditionally been told as the inevitable triumph of English liberty over Spanish tyranny. In this pathbreaking study, McMichael shows that government in the Baton Rouge district of West Florida was enlightened and mild and that Anglo settlers, whose allegiance was more practical than patriotic, were content to live under Spanish law as long as Spain was able to grant lands and protect property.

(Amy Turner Bushnell author of Situado and Sabana: Spain's Support System for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida)

Atlantic Loyalties is the finest book written on the southern borderlands. Focusing upon an obscure region the Baton Rouge district of West Florida, he has carefully chronicled the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that gave context to the lives and loyalties of the French, Spanish, British, and American settlers. This is a revolutionary book that moves easily between the local and the international, revealing the shifting loyalties and abiding self-interest of the settlers.

(Virginia Meacham Gould editor of Chained to the Rock of Adversity)

Offers exceptionally well written, interesting, and innovative approaches that promise to breathe new interpretive life into what many may consider an old topic . . . As one of the stronger anthologies in the field published in recent years, this collection will be useful to specialists and students alike . . . the range of interpretations and the nuanced understandings of American slavery will certainly benefit scholars for years to come.

(Journal of Southern History)

[Andrew] McMichael does a good job of describing the operations and end of twenty-five years of Spanish rule in West Florida. He uses a rich variety of archival sources to illustrate and establish his key points. This is bottom-up history that takes into account theoretical themes but is ever on the search for concrete evidence on which to base the more abstract claims. Others would do well to imitate his work.

(Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer)

Atlantic Loyalties does an excellent job in placing West Florida into an international context. . . . An interesting book that sheds historical light on an area all-too-often downplayed or not mentioned at all.

(Journal of American History)

About the Author

Andrew McMichael is an assistant professor of history at Western Kentucky University. McMichael is also the author of History on the Web and an assistant editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 30.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (January 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082033023X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820330235
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,710,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Henry Berry on January 31, 2008
Format: Paperback
McMichael's "Atlantic Loyalties" makes a good study of how a region became part of the United States differently from how practically all of the rest of the U. S. was formed. The jingoistic settlement of Texas preceding the Mexican War; displacement of Native American tribes; and administrative steps leading to statehood as with California and other Western states are familiar ways regions have been incorporated into the United States. By contrast, the Florida panhandle controlled by Spain became a part of the nation by a long, winding course by which the Anglo-Americas who made up the majority of the population changed loyalties.

Part of the Spanish territory of western Florida almost from the earliest days of its settlement, Anglo-Americans were not essentially dissatisfied with being subject to Spanish rule. The Anglo-Americans were economically successful; they made a community within the territory; the Spanish rule was benign, with some of the governors, notably Charles Louis Boucher de Grand Pre, popular. Neither victory in America's War of Independence nor the Louisiana Purchase turned the west Floridian Anglo-Americans' allegiance from the Spanish to the Americans. However, each of these momentous historical events inevitably contributed to the eventual change in loyalties.

Continuing United States' troubles with Britain leading to the War of 1812 and conflict among the European countries of Britain, Spain, and France with the rise of Napoleon having some global dimension also unsettled the circumstances in west Florida so as to contribute to the change.
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