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.
Eberhard L. Faber teaches history and music industry studies at Loyola University, New Orleans. Previously, he spent twelve years leading the New York-based rock band God Street Wine. He blogs on New Orleans history and other topics at www.crescentcityconfidential.com.
"Multicultural New Orleans maintains a mystique that stems from its unique development under governments of France, Spain, and Thomas Jefferson's U.S., argues musician-turned-history teacher Faber in this remarkable and thorough history."--Publishers Weekly
"This well-researched snapshot of a brief period of the city's lengthy history richly details personalities and events, offering a valuable perspective to history students and anyone who has experienced the Crescent City's vibrant ways of life."--Library Journal
"Faber explains how exotic New Orleans became somewhat less exotic after the Louisiana Purchase. . . . The author also provides information about the powerful individuals who were part of the transition."--Choice
"An original and complex analysis of New Orleans during that transformative period in its history and details the political and economic integration of the city into Jeffersonian America. . . . This book effectively presents an important, and hopefully provocative, historical, geographical, and political argument: the histories and geographies of New Orleans and the early United States are inseparable. Whatever their differences, compromises and common interests generally prevailed."--Case Watkins, Journal of Historical Geography
"Deeply researched, vibrant, and passionately honest. . . . Historians of early Louisiana will be debating Faber's book for years to come."--David E. Narrett, Journal of Southern History
"Faber's book retires much of the folklore embedded in New Orleans's historiography."--George Edward Milne, American Historical Review
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