Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890

Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890

by Peter Pagnamenta


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“A deeply researched and finely delivered look at what can best be described as a counterintuitive slice of American history.”—Washington Post

From the 1830s onward, a succession of well-born Britons headed west to the great American wilderness to find adventure and fulfillment. They brought their dogs, sporting guns, valets, and all the attitudes and prejudices of their class. Prairie Fever explores why the West had such a strong romantic appeal for them at a time when their inherited wealth and passion for sport had no American equivalent.

In fascinating and often comic detail, the author shows how the British behaved—and what the fur traders, hunting guides, and ordinary Americans made of them—as they crossed the country to see the Indians, hunt buffalo, and eventually build cattle empires and buy up vast tracts of the West. But as British blue bloods became American landowners, they found themselves attacked and reviled as “land vultures” and accused of attempting a new colonization. In a final denouement, Congress moved against the foreigners and passed a law to stop them from buying land.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393347081
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/23/2013
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,021,060
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Peter Pagnamenta is a writer and social historian who lives in London. He is the author of Sword and Blossom: A British Officer's Enduring Love for a Japanese Woman. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Introduction xi

Maps xviii

Prologue: 1887-Frontier Days 1

Part I Freedom for the Spirit

1 Encircling Vastness 11

2 Beyond the Mississippi 28

3 Red Men and Blue Bloods 56

4 Buffalo Dreams 83

5 "Who Would Not Go A'Pleasuring!" 113

Part II Staking A Claim

6 Private Paradise 147

7 A Place for the Boys 175

8 "Hail Britannia!" 195

9 Cattle Lords 230

10 "Land Grabbers" 265

Epilogue: 1887 282

Acknowledgments 295

Notes 299

Credits 317

Index 321

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Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West 1830-1890 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MSanders12 More than 1 year ago
Why were these events missing from my American history courses? A great read about British nobility as hunters, tourists and settlers in America in the 19th century. A social history focused on the interaction of the British with Americans and our land that also explains the mansions in the Plains! Some of the British were just here for sport and fun while others came to ranch and farm. Some understood the transitions that were taking place - the forced exodus of the Indians and the decline of the Plains and its native wildlife - as tourists and settlers moved in. They organized records in art, collections and journals of what they saw and experienced. When the British returned to Britain, some hung the paintings in their estates while others shared artifacts and staged live shows in London and other cities. Near the end of the century, America's rising anti-immigration attitudes coincided with some of the British beginning to discover the real challenges of the work they had undertaken in cattle ranching and farming, and many departed. This is a well-organized, entertaining and informative book.