"McMichael's book is a powerful argument for writing borderlands history from the ground up, concentrating on what actually happened in a given place and fitting that place into an Atlantic framework. The story of Anglo-American expansion into the Spanish borderlands has traditionally been told as the inevitable triumph of English liberty over Spanish tyranny. In this pathbreaking study, McMichael shows that government in the Baton Rouge district of West Florida was enlightened and mild and that Anglo settlers, whose allegiance was more practical than patriotic, were content to live under Spanish law as long as Spain was able to grant lands and protect property."
—Amy Turner Bushnell, author of Situado and Sabana: Spain's Support System for the Presidio and Mission Provinces of Florida
"Atlantic Loyalties is the finest book written on the southern borderlands. Focusing upon an obscure region the Baton Rouge district of West Florida, he has carefully chronicled the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that gave context to the lives and loyalties of the French, Spanish, British, and American settlers. This is a revolutionary book that moves easily between the local and the international, revealing the shifting loyalties and abiding self-interest of the settlers."
"The strengths of this work are a quantitative study of the chief complaints of the residents . . . the section on crime . . . a sophisticated, sympathetic presentation of how the Spanish legal and governmental systems worked; and a correction of the errors of earlier studies of the revolt. . . . [An] important addition to the literature of the so-called Spanish Borderlands and the early history of the South."
—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Atlantic Loyalties does an excellent job in placing West Florida into an international context. . . . An interesting book that sheds historical light on an area all-too-often downplayed or not mentioned at all.
—Journal of American History
"[Andrew] McMichael does a good job of describing the operations and end of twenty-five years of Spanish rule in West Florida. He uses a rich variety of archival sources to illustrate and establish his key points. This is bottom-up history that takes into account theoretical themes but is ever on the search for concrete evidence on which to base the more abstract claims. Others would do well to imitate his work."
“[Atlantic Loyalties] is an interesting, timely, and suggestive book whose individual case studies suggest that there are rich veins of borderland history still to be explored, all the more so because the loyalty of people who dare to question or cross the border today is impugned and deemed suspect.”
The book contextualizes the 1810 rebellion, and by extension the southern frontier, within the broader Atlantic World, showing how both local factors as well as events in Europe affected lives in the Spanish borderlands. Breaking with traditional scholarship, McMichael examines contests over land and slaves as a determinant of loyalty. He draws on Spanish, French, and Anglo records to challenge scholarship that asserts a particularly “American” loyalty on the frontier whereby Anglo-American residents in West Florida, as disaffected subjects of the Spanish Crown, patiently abided until they could overthrow an alien system. Rather, it was political, social, and cultural conflicts--not nationalist ideology--that disrupted networks by which economic prosperity was gained and thus loyalty retained.
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