- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (April 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0151009252
- ISBN-13: 978-0151009251
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Meticulously researched and populated with the colorful characters that make American history a joy, this is the story of a young country testing its power on the global stage and a lost chapter in how the frontier spirit came to define American character. The first treatment of this little-known historical moment, The Rogue Republic shows how hardscrabble frontiersmen and gentleman farmers planted the seeds of civil war, marked the dawn of Manifest Destiny, and laid the groundwork for the American empire.
I think most historians would agree that the most fun in writing a book is the research. That is when a 21st-century man gets to feel a little like Christopher Columbus. There are always "discoveries" to be made in the archives, but more than that is the excitement of placing half a dozen disparate bits of information together, like puzzle pieces, and suddenly seeing the story they tell emerge. No matter how many times it has happened, I still feel excited in those moments.
Happily there were a lot of them working on The Rogue Republic. We have a lot of great resources available to us that still have not been fully exploited by historians. Newspapers are one, and the material that I found in the papers from 1800–1820 for this story would be enough itself to fill a book. The originals are hard to get to, of course, and often in poor condition. But perhaps the greatest advance for newspaper researchers in my memory is the Genealogybank.com site that is now available. It has digitized virtually all of the newspapers from the American Antiquarian Society, and applied an optical character recognition program to them. This means that we don’t have to laboriously scan the originals or microfilms page by page, but rather now we can enter names of keyword search terms, and call up the actual image of the paper with the reference. It is imperfect, since the poor type quality of many originals means that probably only half or less of the appearances of a search term will get caught, but that is a big step forward. In time you learn how to tinker and play with the system to find even more.
Then there are the Archives of the Indies, the massive collection of hundreds of thousands of documents from the Spaniards' years in North America and the Caribbean. Most have never been translated, but time and patience can winkle out wonderful material, and I found a wealth of it on the West Florida revolt.
The result of all this, and more, is that I originally wrote a book that was nearly twice as long as it needed to be, and had to cut more than 200 pages from the manuscript--about 40%. Cutting is almost always a good exercise, and certainly it tightened the book, but it was sad to see so many interesting tidbits go into the waste basket. There may be another book in some of that someday.
One of the things that drew me to this subject was one individual, the man whose involvement provides a skeleton of sorts for the book, and that is Reuben Kemper. All he did was come to West Florida in 1799 intending to run a country store, but within years, events beyond his control and ingredients of his own making made him the spark that eventually ignited a revolution. Electric individuals like Kemper have been the spearheads of many great moments and movements in history around the world, and it is fascinating to observe how they manage--and just often are managed by--the history they make.
Q: How did you come to write the story of the West Florida Revolt and Republic?
A: Most of my books are outgrowths of something I ran across in the course of writing the previous book. In this case, during research for The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf, I encountered references to the 1810 revolt of the so-called Florida Parishes of Louisiana. I had also found some material relating to it while writing Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of James Bowie, David Crockett, and William Barret Travis. Those references stayed in the back of my mind, and came together in the idea for this book.
Q: Isn’t this rather a minor story?
A: I am attracted by small stories, especially if a lot of myth has grown out of them. They are interesting to research, and often, as in the case of The Rogue Republic, you discover that big things came from small events.
Q: Did that happen with the West Florida Rebellion?
A: Yes, it did. This little revolution and the 78-day republic that followed is the rehearsal for Manifest Destiny. All of the elements are there that characterized our later expansion to fill the continent. In fact, the West Florida experience is almost a template for the Texas Revolution of 1836 and California’s Bear Flag Revolt a decade later.
Q: Do any characters stand out in particular as being significant, or most interesting?
A: Easily the one that will stick in memory is Reuben Kemper. The whole period of militant unrest with Spanish rule in West Florida began with him--all as a result of the failure of his store--and he, and later his brothers, kept up the agitation that eventually led to armed revolt. He is genuinely larger than life--a friend and confidant of Andrew Jackson, an acquaintance of Jefferson’s and Monroe’s, a dynamic leader in the War of 1812, and more. His is one of those lives that people write novels about.
Q: What do you think the lasting message of your book is, if it has one?
A: I think it is that Americans will always be Americans, and that our character was already well defined when the nation was only a quarter of a century old. Our peculiar mixture of ambition, self-interest, sense of justice, and above all independence, were already fixed by the early 1800s, and were certainly on display in the revolt that took four parishes of the old Louisiana Territory away from Spain and put them on the road to becoming a part of the United States.
Bonus Pictures from The Rogue Republic
(Click on Images to Enlarge)
From Publishers Weekly
Davis (The Pirates Laffite) presents a well-documented account of "America's second and smallest rebellion," led by a simple storekeeper named Reuben Kemper. The region of West Florida, settled increasingly by Americans after the Revolution, extended across what is now southern Alabama and Mississippi, and was controlled by Spain. Spain offered generous terms to settlers, who brought with them a shared culture preoccupied with law and order and insistent on individual rights. Their loyalty to Spain dwindled as it became less and less capable of providing an environment in which they could prosper morally or materially. As Spain fought for its existence against Napoleon, a local administration, left to its own devices, imposed increasing restrictions on immigration and land acquisitions. With civil and criminal law eroding, resistance emerged in 1810, creating a republic that, after 90 days, was absorbed by the United States. Davis tells this story with nuance and panache. This book exposes a nearly forgotten piece of America's history and character, when a desire for peace and stability, not manifest destiny, impelled a people to the shortest revolution in the nation's history. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.