Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860

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Overview


To most people living in the West, the Louisiana Purchase made little difference: the United States was just another imperial overlord to be assessed and manipulated. This was not, as Empires, Nations, and Families makes clear, virgin wilderness discovered by virtuous Anglo entrepreneurs. Rather, the United States was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires. This book documents the broad family associations that crossed national and ethnic lines and that, along with the river systems of the trans-Mississippi West, formed the basis for a global trade in furs that had operated for hundreds of years before the land became part of the United States.

 
Empires, Nations, and Families shows how the world of river and maritime trade effectively shifted political power away from military and diplomatic circles into the hands of local people. Tracing family stories from the Canadian North to the Spanish and Mexican borderlands and from the Pacific Coast to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, Anne F. Hyde’s narrative moves from the earliest years of the Indian trade to the Mexican War and the gold rush era. Her work reveals how, in the 1850s, immigrants to these newest regions of the United States violently wrested control from Native and other powers, and how conquest and competing demands for land and resources brought about a volatile frontier culture—not at all the peace and prosperity that the new power had promised.

Winner of the 2012 Bancroft Prize

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History

"Hyde weaves her stories together to create a solid and provocative argument in Empires, Nations, and Families, a book that is not only well researched and presented but instantly absorbing."—Adrienne Caughfield, Journal of American History

— Adrienne Caughfield

Great Plains Quarterly

"Students of the Great Plains and the nineteenth-century West in general, at whatever level, will be well rewarded by a reading of Anne Hyde's fine book."—Walter Nugent, Great Plains Quarterly

— Walter Nugent

The Register

"Hyde's volume is a superb telling of a tale familiar to students of the American West but presented in a new, enlivening manner that will make readers remember why they love frontier American history so very much."—Patricia Ann Owens, The Register

— Patricia Ann Owens

Journal of American History - Adrienne Caughfield

"Hyde weaves her stories together to create a solid and provocative argument in Empires, Nations, and Families, a book that is not only well researched and presented but instantly absorbing."—Adrienne Caughfield, Journal of American History
Great Plains Quarterly - Walter Nugent

"Students of the Great Plains and the nineteenth-century West in general, at whatever level, will be well rewarded by a reading of Anne Hyde's fine book."—Walter Nugent, Great Plains Quarterly
The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - Patricia Ann Owens

 "Hyde's volume is a superb telling of a tale familiar to students of the American West but presented in a new, enlivening manner that will make readers remember why they love frontier American history so very much."—Patricia Ann Owens, The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
South Dakota History - John Husman
“The nuanced and complex narrative contextualizes the experiences of individuals, families, and communities. . . . Taking a unique approach that emphasizes the importance of family networks and integrating a newer generation of scholarship to explain the social and cultural dynamics of the West, Hyde has produced a substantial and highly original interpretation of the period [1800–61]. . . . An excellent work and a major contribution to the historiography of the North American West.”—John Husmann, South Dakota History
Kansas History - James E. Sherow

“The strength of [Hyde’s] work lies in her ability to assemble and integrate a vast amount of secondary work into a thematic framework that emphasizes the important role kinship structures played in shaping the economic and social structures of the West prior to 1860.”—James E. Sherow, Kansas History

 

Oregon Historical Quarte - Katrine Barber

“This is an important and useful book, and it should find a large readership.”—Katrine Barber, Oregon Historical Quarterly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803224056
  • Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Series: History of the American West
  • Pages: 648
  • Sales rank: 847,244
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 2.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Anne F. Hyde is a professor of history at Colorado College. She is the author of An American Vision: Far Western Landscape and National Culture and coauthor, with William Deverell, of The West in the History of the Nation.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Maps xi

Acknowledgments: Adventures in the Land of the Dead xiii

Introduction: The Geography of Empire in 1804 1

St. Louis 6

Michilimackinac 9

Santa Fe 11

The Pacific Coast 13

Family Stories 15

"Died Single" 18

Why Fur and Why Families? 19

Sources and Definitions 21

Maps and Signposts 22

Part I Replacing a State: The Continental Web of Family Trade 25

Chapter 1 Families and Fur: The Personal World of the Early American West 27

The Chouteau Family and the Missouri River World 30

"Middle Ground" or "Native Ground"? 35

"Tough Love" and Family Loyalty 39

On the Trail of Wealth and Opportunity 56

The Sublette Brothers and Their Family Business 57

Chasing Fortune and Family 70

Americans in Mexico, Californios in America 75

Dangerous Places 83

Chapter 2 Fort Vancouver's Families: The Custom of the Country 89

Cogs in the Fur Trade 89

The Local and Global Communities of the Columbia 92

The Métis World of John McLoughlin 97

The Tentacles of International Trade 104

The McLoughlins and the Company 109

Life and Work on the Columbia 116

Global Ambitions 124

The Fine Mesh of the Family Network 128

Immigrants, Nations, and the Loss of a Family Empire 133

Murder at Fort Stikine and Suicide in California 137

Chapter 3 Three Western Places: Regional Communities and Vecinidad 147

William Bent's Border World 151

Bent's Fort and Its Neighborhood 160

Omens and Weddings 162

Norteños and Yanquis in Alta California 170

Captain Sutter's New Helvetia 183

Dinner and Diplomacy in Northern California 191

Portents of Change 195

Stephen Austin's Border World 200

Planting Colonies in Texas 204

Austin's Fractious Neighborhood 212

Part II Americans All: The Mixed World of Indian Country 221

Chapter 4 The Early West: The Many Faces of Indian Country 229

Cherokee, Shawnee, and Osage 229

The View from Fort Osage 240

The View from St. Louis 250

Change, Loss, and Warfare on the Missouri 257

The Arikara War 262

Métis and Half-Breed in an Anglo West 268

Chapter 5 Empires in Transition: Indian Country at Midcentury, 1825-1860 279

Counting Indians 281

Expanding Power 289

The Santa Fe Trail 293

Native Nations and Texas Revolution 298

Retrenchment and Resistance 307

The Osages and Accommodation on the Arkansas 314

Good Fathers and the Fur Trade 317

Captivity Tales and Epidemic Disease 330

Part III From Nations to Nation: Imposing a State, 1840-1865 347

Chapter 6 Unintended Consequences: Families, Nations, and the Mexican War 351

What If Guadalupe Boggs Married Teresina Carson? 351

Questions of Citizenship and Identity 358

Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormonism 359

Mexican Revolutions 369

Continental Rumor Factories 373

The Bent Family and the Vagaries of War 378

Bent's Choice 385

Brigham Young and the Choices of War 388

Hard Choices in California 392

The McLoughlins' Choice 400

Chapter 7 Border Wars: Disorder and Disaster in the 1850s 409

The Evolving Fur Trade World 411

Postwar Family and Business on the Arkansas 416

Indian Wars in the Pacific Northwest 421

Oregon's Bloody Legacy 423

The Failure of Warfare and Washington's Native Nations 427

Nation Building in the Southwest 434

Raising Families and Fighting Wars 440

Chapter 8 The State and Its Handmaidens: Imposing Order 451

Civil Threats and the Mormons 452

The Personal Politics of Polygamy and Theocracy 455

The Almost War and the Massacre in Utah 459

Conquest and Chaos in California 462

A Nation of Squatters 475

While Kansas Bled and Native People Fled 477

The Pesky Details of Popular Sovereignty 480

A National Horror Show 484

The Minnesota Uprising of 1862 488

Sand Creek and the Bent Family Nightmare 492

Epilogue: How It All Turned Out 497

Sonoma 497

Los Angeles 501

Taos 505

The Arkansas River 506

Oregon 507

St. Louis 511

Kawsmouth 512

Notes 515

Bibliography 563

Index 597

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