Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century

Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century

Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century

Coastal Encounters: The Transformation of the Gulf South in the Eighteenth Century

Synopsis

Coastal Encounters opens a window onto the fascinating world of the eighteenth-century Gulf South. Stretching from Florida to Texas, the region witnessed the complex collision of European, African, and Native American peoples. The Gulf South offered an extraordinary stage for European rivalries to play out, allowed a Native-based frontier exchange system to develop alongside an emerging slave-based plantation economy, and enabled the construction of an urban network of unusual opportunity for free people of color. After being long-neglected in favor of the English colonies of the Atlantic coast, the colonial Gulf South has now become the focus of new and exciting scholarship. Coastal Encounters brings together leading experts and emerging scholars to provide a portrait of the Gulf South in the eighteenth century. The contributors depict the remarkable transformations that took place- demographic, cultural, social, political, and economic- and examine the changes from multiple perspectives, including those of Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans; colonizers and colonized; men and women. The outstanding essays in this book argue for the central place of this dynamic region in colonial history.

Excerpt

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into coastal Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, giving rise to the greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States and bringing unprecedented—if unwanted—attention to the Gulf Coast region. A little more than three months later, on December 11, 2005, the New York Times fretted that the slow pace of the recovery efforts threatened the very existence of New Orleans and expressed alarm at the prospects of the “Death of an American City.” The anguish derived not only from a humane concern for those whose lives were so brutally disrupted by the storm and its aftermath (a group that includes many of the authors whose work appears in this book) but also from a recognition of the unique contributions that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have made to the history and culture of the United States (and to the world for that matter). This book explores the origins of this great city and its surrounding region.

The chapters herein open a window onto the extraordinary world of the eighteenth-century Gulf South, a significant but heretofore relatively neglected subject. The neglect is unfortunate for many reasons. In the realm of international politics, the imperial rivalries of the Spanish, British, and French in the Gulf South (stretching from Florida to Texas) reached their peak in the eighteenth century, creating new challenges and opportunities for the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and other native peoples of the region. Throughout the century the Gulf South's diverse inhabitants (Native American, European, and African) contested or collaborated with one another in myriad diplomatic and military arrangements.

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