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

By Roger G. Kennedy | Go to book overview

Epilogue

The Jeffersonian Legacy:
The Civil War and the Homestead Act

As Thomas Jefferson predicted it must sooner or later, in 1861 the American nation came to a resolution of great questions long delayed:

Would limits be set to the expansion of slavery into the territories of the West?

Would the leaders of the United States advance the ideal of a republic of free and independent yeomen by giving them preference in the allocation of the public domain, or would they receive only what was left after its most desirable portions were wholesaled in aggregates to speculators and to plantation owners?

Would the South shake itself free of British colonial-imperialism by diversifying its agriculture and then enlarging the worldview of its planter elite?

Would the requirements of the land itself be heeded—would its voice be heard—before it was so weakened as to be incapable of supporting a diverse and independent economy?

The North had become able to manufacture nearly all its own needs and also to produce surplus food and fiber for both foreign and domestic markets. The South, by contrast, was still importing most of its tools, clothing, and luxury goods. Its obsession with cotton, produced in haste and by slave labor, depreciated its land, and thus reduced its ultimate power base. The reliance of its production system upon slaves was becoming disagreeable to a growing element of British aristocratic opinion. Quite aside from what they were doing to their slaves, the planters were alienating many enlightened middleclass people by their increasingly repressive treatment of other whites. It seemed to many that the South was turning the benign face of Jefferson's

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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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