In 1795, New Orleans was a sleepy outpost at the edge of Spain's American empire. By the 1820s, it was teeming with life, its levees packed with cotton and sugar. New Orleans had become the unquestioned urban capital of the antebellum South. Looking at this remarkable period filled with ideological struggle, class politics, and powerful personalities, Building the Land of Dreams is the narrative biography of a fascinating city at the most crucial turning point in its history.
Eberhard Faber tells the vivid story of how American rule forced New Orleans through a vast transition: from the ordered colonial world of hierarchy and subordination to the fluid, unpredictable chaos of democratic capitalism. The change in authority, from imperial Spain to Jeffersonian America, transformed everything. As the city’s diverse people struggled over the terms of the transition, they built the foundations of a dynamic, contentious hybrid metropolis. Faber describes the vital individuals who played a role in New Orleans history: from the wealthy creole planters who dreaded the influx of revolutionary ideas, to the American arrivistes who combined idealistic visions of a new republican society with selfish dreams of quick plantation fortunes, to Thomas Jefferson himself, whose powerful democratic vision for Louisiana eventually conflicted with his equally strong sense of realpolitik and desire to strengthen the American union.
Revealing how New Orleans was formed by America’s greatest impulses and ambitions, Building the Land of Dreams is an inspired exploration of one of the world’s most iconic cities.
Combines extensive research with the best recent scholarship on the period A balanced account of the contributions of the leading personalities Impressive coverage is given to questions of race and territorial expansion Chapter One provides a concise and lucid account of the state of American politics and society in 1789 Extensive chapter bibliographies
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The work will be welcomed by students studying the early republic as well as general readers interested in a stimulating and informative account of the early years of the American nation.
After Theodore Roosevelt led his Rough Riders to victory during the Spanish American War, he boasted of the diversity of his men's origins- from the Kentucky backwoods to the Irish, Italian, and Jewish neighborhoods of northeastern cities. Roosevelt’s vision of a hybrid and superior “American race,” strengthened by war, would inspire the social, diplomatic, and economic policies of American liberals for decades. And yet, for all of its appeal to the civic principles of inclusion, this liberal legacy was grounded in “Anglo-Saxon” culture, making it difficult in particular for Jews and Italians and especially for Asians and African Americans to gain acceptance.
Gerstle weaves a compelling story of events, institutions, and ideas that played on perceptions of ethnic/racial difference, from the world wars and the labor movement to the New Deal and Hollywood to the Cold War and the civil rights movement. We witness the remnants of racial thinking among such liberals as FDR and LBJ; we see how Italians and Jews from Frank Capra to the creators of Superman perpetuated the New Deal philosophy while suppressing their own ethnicity; we feel the frustrations of African-American servicemen denied the opportunity to fight for their country and the moral outrage of more recent black activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Malcolm X.
Gerstle argues that the civil rights movement and Vietnam broke the liberal nation apart, and his analysis of this upheaval leads him to assess Reagan’s and Clinton’s attempts to resurrect nationalism. Can the United States ever live up to its civic creed? For anyone who views racism as an aberration from the liberal premises of the republic, this book is must reading.
Containing a new chapter that reconstructs and dissects the major struggles over race and nation in an era defined by the War on Terror and by the presidency of Barack Obama, American Crucible is a must-read for anyone who views racism as an aberration from the liberal premises of the republic.