Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution

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A rising-star historian offers a significant new global perspective on the Revolutionary War with the story of the conflict as seen through the eyes of the outsiders of colonial society

Winner of the Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year Award • Winner of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey History Prize • Finalist for the George Washington Book Prize


Over the last decade, award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal has revitalized the study of early America’s marginalized voices. Now, in Independence Lost, she recounts an untold story as rich and significant as that of the Founding Fathers: the history of the Revolutionary Era as experienced by slaves, American Indians, women, and British loyalists living on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

While citizens of the thirteen rebelling colonies came to blows with the British Empire over tariffs and parliamentary representation, the situation on the rest of the continent was even more fraught. In the Gulf of Mexico, Spanish forces clashed with Britain’s strained army to carve up the Gulf Coast, as both sides competed for allegiances with the powerful Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek nations who inhabited the region. Meanwhile, African American slaves had little control over their own lives, but some individuals found opportunities to expand their freedoms during the war.

Independence Lost reveals that individual motives counted as much as the ideals of liberty and freedom the Founders espoused: Independence had a personal as well as national meaning, and the choices made by people living outside the colonies were of critical importance to the war’s outcome. DuVal introduces us to the Mobile slave Petit Jean, who organized militias to fight the British at sea; the Chickasaw diplomat Payamataha, who worked to keep his people out of war; New Orleans merchant Oliver Pollock and his wife, Margaret O’Brien Pollock, who risked their own wealth to organize funds and garner Spanish support for the American Revolution; the half-Scottish-Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, who fought to protect indigenous interests from European imperial encroachment; the Cajun refugee Amand Broussard, who spent a lifetime in conflict with the British; and Scottish loyalists James and Isabella Bruce, whose work on behalf of the British Empire placed them in grave danger. Their lives illuminate the fateful events that took place along the Gulf of Mexico and, in the process, changed the history of North America itself.

Adding new depth and moral complexity, Kathleen DuVal reinvigorates the story of the American Revolution. Independence Lost is a bold work that fully establishes the reputation of a historian who is already regarded as one of her generation’s best.

Praise for Independence Lost

“[An] astonishing story . . . Independence Lost will knock your socks off. To read [this book] is to see that the task of recovering the entire American Revolution has barely begun.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“A richly documented and compelling account.”The Wall Street Journal
 
“A remarkable, necessary—and entirely new—book about the American Revolution.”The Daily Beast
 
“A completely new take on the American Revolution, rife with pathos, double-dealing, and intrigue.”—Elizabeth A. Fenn, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World


From the Hardcover edition.
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About the author

Kathleen DuVal teaches Early American history and American Indian history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous books include The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent, winner of the J. G. Ragsdale Book Award from the Arkansas Historical Association. She is also co-editor of Interpreting a Continent: Voices from Colonial America.


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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Jul 7, 2015
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9781588369611
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Modern / 18th Century
History / United States / Colonial Period (1600-1775)
History / United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In The Native Ground, Kathleen DuVal argues that it was Indians rather than European would-be colonizers who were more often able to determine the form and content of the relations between the two groups. Along the banks of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers, far from Paris, Madrid, and London, European colonialism met neither accommodation nor resistance but incorporation. Rather than being colonized, Indians drew European empires into local patterns of land and resource allocation, sustenance, goods exchange, gender relations, diplomacy, and warfare. Placing Indians at the center of the story, DuVal shows both their diversity and our contemporary tendency to exaggerate the influence of Europeans in places far from their centers of power. Europeans were often more dependent on Indians than Indians were on them.

Now the states of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado, this native ground was originally populated by indigenous peoples, became part of the French and Spanish empires, and in 1803 was bought by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Drawing on archaeology and oral history, as well as documents in English, French, and Spanish, DuVal chronicles the successive migrations of Indians and Europeans to the area from precolonial times through the 1820s. These myriad native groups—Mississippians, Quapaws, Osages, Chickasaws, Caddos, and Cherokees—and the waves of Europeans all competed with one another for control of the region.

Only in the nineteenth century did outsiders initiate a future in which one people would claim exclusive ownership of the mid-continent. After the War of 1812, these settlers came in numbers large enough to overwhelm the region's inhabitants and reject the early patterns of cross-cultural interdependence. As citizens of the United States, they persuaded the federal government to muster its resources on behalf of their dreams of landholding and citizenship.

With keen insight and broad vision, Kathleen DuVal retells the story of Indian and European contact in a more complex and, ultimately, more satisfactory way.

A full-scale portrait of the marriage of the father and mother of our country—and of the struggle for independence that he led

The Washingtons’ long union begins in colonial Virginia in 1759, when George Washington woos and weds Martha Dandridge Parke Custis, a pretty, charming, and very rich young widow. The calm early years of their marriage as plantation owners at Mount Vernon and as parents to Martha’s two children, Jacky and Patsy—both of whom present difficult challenges—yield to harsher times. Washington has been prominent among Virginians in opposing British government measures, and at the outbreak of fighting in 1775 he is elected commander-in-chief of the Continental army. The war sees Martha resolutely supporting her husband, sharing in the hardships at Valley Forge and other wretched winter headquarters. Essential to George’s personal well-being, she is known as “Lady Washington”—a redoubtable and vastly admired figure in her own right.

Flora Fraser provides us with a brilliant account of the public Washington and of the war he waged, and gives us, as well, the domestic Washingtons, whether at Mount Vernon before and during the war or in New York and Philadelphia during his presidency. Even in wartime, Martha manages to scour Philadelphia to find a doll for her newest granddaughter and keeps careful control of her Virginia inheritance. George grapples with a formidable enemy, without proper troops and often without basic supplies—his soldiers frequently lack rations, blankets, even shoes—while always fearful for his wife’s welfare and safety, given the constant worry that the British might descend on Mount Vernon. Even so, a true Virginian, he manages to dance for more than three hours with Alexander Hamilton’s pretty young wife at a makeshift ball.

With victory and the arrival of peace in 1783, the Washingtons hope to remain at home, a hope dashed when, in 1789, George is elected our first president and Martha becomes a faultless first First Lady. During the presidency, they together negotiate the many pitfalls of establishing republican entertainment—the weekly “Congress dinner,” levées, and drawing rooms—before, finally free of official responsibilities after Washington’s second term, they are at last able to retreat to their beloved Mount Vernon.

This is a remarkable story of a remarkable pair as well as a gripping narrative of the birth of a nation—a major, and vastly appealing, contribution to the literature of our founding fathers . . . and founding mother.


From the Hardcover edition.
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