In Independence Lost, Kathleen DuVal recounts the history of the Revolutionary Era as experienced by slaves, American Indians, women, and British loyalists living on Florida's Gulf Coast.
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; 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.
©2015 Kathleen DuVal (P)2015 Tantor
"This book adds to the literature of the period." (Library Journal, starred review)
As an 8th generation Alabamian, I learned much about which I had never been exposed from this era of history in and connected to my region. I had no idea about the complex and active levels of diplomacy by Southeast Indian tribes, nor about many complexities of the American Revolution here in what is now the Southeastern US. I will definitely be recommending the book to friends. The storytelling style of relaying the history was definitely engaging. And like any well written book, I was sorry to come to the end. I look forward to more of Professor DuVal's work.
Unlike the implication early in her book, DuVal is not the first to examine the roles of women, Indians, slaves, farmers or Loyalists in the American Revolution, although these subjects are certainly underrepresented in the historical literature. Nor is she the first to look at the Revolutionary period in the Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi, although they too are underrepresented. She does, however, make important contributions to these areas of study.
Among others, she touches briefly on the question of why only 13 of the many British colonies in the Western Hemisphere revolted, which is a question that deserves further exploration. She delves more deeply into the global, imperial nature of the conflict that grew out of the Revolution, and makes important connections between the Spanish victory at Pensacola and the American/French victory at Yorktown.
Her central theme, developed largely in the second half of the book, focuses on the tensions between independence and interdependence. There is much literature that explores how the Revolution threw off a hierarchical system of mutual interdependence, among both polities and individuals, and created a much more level society of independent citizens. But there were two levels, and the cost of such transformation was the complete exclusion from citizenship of women, Indians and blacks, whether slave or free. DuVal extends that analysis and makes valuable contributions to the understanding of how that transformation affected the Indian nations of the Southeast, as well as the imperial ambitions of Spain.
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