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Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause : Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The book provides much food for argument....Kennedy is a talented story teller, and many will find this adventure in speculative history to be informative and fascinating."--Allan G. Bogue, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"Forces us to reconsider settled opinions."--Wall Street Journal
"Well-researched, well-written and provocative."--Santa Fe New Mexican
"A good look at the economics that drove the early years of the nation."--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
On the plus side: Kennedy puts together a commanding set of facts to show that while Jefferson's words rang strong and true, the man himself was hamstrung by his allegiance to his class and could not affect any change regarding slavery in America.
One reviewer called Kennedy's work a Marxist critique of southern history. I would argue precisely the opposite. The "lost cause" of the title was the idea that yeoman farmers, tending their own farms for their own benefit would lead to a strong, engaged and committed citizenry. This was originally a Roman idea shared by men such as Adam Smith, James Oglethorpe, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. This practice was in place in the Northern colonies and later the Northwest Territory, and led to economic development and economic independence from Great Britain, industrialization, wealthy citizens and a diversified economy.
In the South, the plantation system meant large farms run by absentee landlords who exploited and ruined the soil, enslaved and robbed people of self-initiative (those people being the slaves), stifled diversification (all hail King Cotton), discouraged industrialization, and prolonged dependence and subservience to textile manufacturers in Liverpool and Manchester. Since the people actually working the land did not have a stake in it, or in the care of the tools they used, the factors of economic production - capital, land, tools and labor -all were "run into the ground.Read more ›
First, the description of how the plantations east of the Allegheny Mountains were viewed as disposable by the men who ran them, since it was cheaper to buy new land on the frontier than properly maintain the land they currently possessed. Also, how these same men for various reasons and led by Jefferson resisted the industrialization that would diversified the economy of the south.
Second, how Jefferson and his allies catered to the land gluttony displayed by those early planters as new land was acquired for the United States. This was largely accomplished by dispossessing the people inconveniently already settling the land, and handing large swathes of land over to slave-holding planters emigrating from the lands they had exhausted.
Kennedy in fact dwells for much of the book on the territory of Florida (expanding beyond the current borders of that state across much of the South) possessed by Spain and settled prior to US acquisition by a mixture of Indians, whites and blacks who out of neccessity practiced sustainable agriculture on a small scale. I found the picture of Florida in that period to be one of the particularly interesting parts of the book. The relationship between the US and the people already settled on lands it wished to acquire (especially Indians), using Florida as a case study, was enlightening.
Kennedy provides some critical information for evaluating Jefferson's political leadership on the most compelling moral issue facing the young republic-the endurance and expansion of slavery within its boundaries. First, although the debate in Congress during his presidency over the expansion of slavery into new territories was very close, Jefferson refrained from using his influence to lead in this controversy.Read more ›
During the Revolutionary War, a number of Virginians felt that slavery would eventually have to be ended. Jefferson did not support them, and slavery became more firmly established. In 1784, the government set up by the Articles of Confederation began to decide what to do with the new territories outside the 13 original states. A number of people felt that slavery should not be allowed there. Jefferson did not support them, and slavery was extended. In 1802, Jefferson, now president, bought the giant Louisiana Territory from France. A number of Americans felt that slavery should not be allowed there. Jefferson did not support them, and slavery was further extended.
Why would Jefferson do this, especially since slavery made impossible a country of small farmers? Kennedy has several answers. First, Jefferson wasn't really that fond of small farmers. He considered many of them to be uncivilized bumpkins. But he positively hated industrialization, and felt especially bad about free black "mechanics." He thought that the only proper way to treat freed slaves was the bring them back to Africa (or maybe Haiti). Until that would happen, it was "not yet" time for emancipation. Jefferson was a planter himself and felt that other planters were his peers.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book. The approach relies on the interaction of ecological and soco-economic history. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Evan Hall
Great book. Very interesting perspective. Cultures around the world should read and reflect upon this book. Sadly I am sure they won't.Published on June 13, 2014 by Rk
Roger G. Kennedy examines the steps that were taken by Thomas Jefferson to secure the Louisiana Territory from Spanish acquisition. MR. Read morePublished on March 1, 2007 by R. DelParto
If you want a good book regarding the Founders and slavery, look to Paul Finkelman's Slavery and the Founders, not this disappointing mess. Read morePublished on June 6, 2005 by Liberty and Union
The truth comes out sooner or later, we hope. Here the record speaks for itself, deflating the strains of Yankee Doodle with some 'historical materialist' analysis of the facts of... Read morePublished on September 25, 2004 by John C. Landon
Roger G.Kennedy is a man on a mission: to embellish, lie and slander Thomas Jefferson. Kennedy is the typical modern biographer,always ready to destroy another one of America's... Read morePublished on June 10, 2004 by G. F Gori
Roger Kennedy has written a great book. Thomas Jefferson's Cause was truly lost because the planters and slavers whom he represented continued to use up people and land until they... Read morePublished on October 4, 2003
Don't believe reviewers who rachet this book down on grounds of its being "revisionist history." Sometimes the truth hurts, especially when one of the Founding Fathers is shown to... Read morePublished on July 28, 2003 by S. J. Snyder
The author fails to see things with the eyes of the generation about which he is writing. That makes for bad history, merely the out-of-context attachment of situations, strung... Read morePublished on March 14, 2003