Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase

By Roger G. Kennedy | Go to book overview

9

McGillivray

He possesses an atticism of diction, aided by a liberal education, a great fund of wit and humor, meliorated by a perfect good nature and politeness.

(John Pope, writing in 1791 of Alexander McGillivray)

On a summer evening in 1788, three magnificent characters gathered at “Tallassee,” the home and place of business of a fourth, Alexander McGillivray. It was also McGillivray's capital city as Great Beloved Man—isti atcagagi thlacco—of the National Council of the Creek Confederacy. Waiting in attendance upon him were Philip Nolan, later cartographer of Texas, cowboy, scientific correspondent with Thomas Jefferson, and spy; William Augustus Bowles, actor, soldier, painter, merchant, later traveler of the world from Newfoundland to Manila, and still later self-elected Director-General of the Muskogean Republic; and Louis Milfort, traditional representative of the French to the Creeks and often their war leader against the British. Each of the four, in his own way, resisted the spread of the plantation system, though that resistance was more overt on the part of the two who became blood enemies—Bowles and McGillivray—than in the cases of Nolan and Milfort. 1

The four were gathered at Tallassee to deal with the delayed consequences of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, concluding a world war of which the American Revolution was one theater of operations. Within that theater there had been two scenes of action: that along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, where uniformed armies contended for cities and fought formal battles in the European fashion, and that of the interior. McGillivray had led a coalition of Southern Indian nations allied to the British against the United States. His later campaign against Bowles was the contest of one former Tory against another. The British betrayed these Indian allies when they became signatories in Paris to an agreement with France, Spain, and the United States deciding among themselves how the continent should be divided. In response, McGillivray organized a conference of the Southern nations in July 1785 to issue their own declaration of independence:

-119-

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Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chronology xiii
  • Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause *
  • Part One - The Land and Mr. Jefferson 1
  • 1 - Choices and Consequences 5
  • 2 - Washington, Jefferson, Three Worthies,and Plantation Migrancy 17
  • 3 - The Way Not Taken 26
  • 4 - Independence 43
  • 5 - Powers of the Earth 60
  • 6 - Jefferson's Opportunities and the Land 73
  • Part Two - The Invisible Empire and the Land 85
  • 7 - Colonial-Imperialism 87
  • 8 - Textile Colonial-Imperialism 97
  • Part Three - Resistance to the Plantation System 115
  • 9 - McGillivray 119
  • 10 - Resisters, Assisters, and Lost Causes 129
  • 11 - The Firm Steps Forward 144
  • 12 - Jeffersonian Strategy and Jeffersonian Agents 152
  • Part Four - Agents of the Master Organism: Assistants to the Plantation System 169
  • 13 - Fulwar Skipwith in Context 173
  • 14 - Destiny by Intention 193
  • 15 - Louisiana and Another Class of Virginians 205
  • 16 - The Virginians of Louisiana Decide the Future of the Land 217
  • Epilogue 235
  • Appendix 245
  • Notes 262
  • Bibliographic Note 307
  • Bibliography 312
  • Index 336
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