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Louisiana Purchase and Missouri | Missouri Encyclopedia

About Peter J. Peter J. Slaves attempted to use the ambiguous status of Louisiana to escape to Texas or to stage a major revolt in Free persons of color in New Orleans emphasized their loyalty to the regime, their property ownership, and their militia participation in order to show their interest in incorporation.

The Louisiana Purchase

In western Louisiana, the Caddo negotiated with the federal government and Spanish Mexico in order to form a Neutral Ground where they maintained much of their own independence. In the long run, the Caddo, along with Louisiana's slaves and free people of color, were unsuccessful in their efforts at incorporation.


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White Louisianans concurred with national government officials that race would be the key determinant of citizenship though this barrier was not completely impermeable. Kastor's nuanced discussion shows that this conclusion was neither preordained nor unchallenged by these groups.

Journal of the Early Republic

In both his study of Native Americans and slaves, and elsewhere in the work, Kastor demonstrates the artificial distinction between domestic and foreign policy. He persuasively argues that while geographically Louisiana stood on the edge of the United States, its affairs were certainly not peripheral to American policy makers. Whether in the Burr conspiracy, in the negotiations with France for the purchase, in the negotiations with the Spanish regarding the region's borders, or in the struggles over the ending of the international slave trade, events in the territory were uppermost in the minds of the nation's leaders.

Even in the setting up of a territorial government based on a combination of real and fictive kinship, national leaders, including Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Henry Clay, learned lessons regarding national identity from events in Louisiana.

The Nation's Crucible ends in with the ratification of the Transcontinental Treaty which provided the final definition of Louisiana's borders. In terms of U. Louisiana historians, however, might find his chosen point of termination to be frustrating.

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The Nation’s Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America

With Kastor having redefined the story of Louisiana's territorial period, one would like to see how he believes this reinterpretation of the territorial period would lead to a reinterpretation of the early years of statehood. So many Louisiana historians posit state history as a conflict between the French Creole population and the American population that Kastor's reorientation of the territorial period should have a significance for others looking at later eras in the state's history. Of course, historians always wish that their counterparts would have started their narratives earlier or ended them later, and certainly in this case the omission does not detract from the overall value of the book.


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In judging Kastor's work, one must look not only at his claims regarding Louisiana, but also to his broader assertions regarding the national character. Historians agree that this era represented the creation or attempted creation of a national identity.

The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America (Western Americana)

They disagree, however, on whether the most important elements of this culture should be ascribed to political culture, language, religion, republicanism, the emerging market economy, or other factors. Kastor's contention that the discussion over the status of Louisiana's population contributed to this discussion is a welcome addition to this scholarship.

The Early Federal Workforce

Some might object to the importance that he attaches to Louisiana and to his grand assertions that it "shaped every facet of foreign and domestic policy" p. While some will dispute these extensive claims, Kastor unquestionably has provided a perspective that needs to be considered in any discussion of American character. Overall, Kastor tells an important and extraordinarily complex story in an interesting an accessible manner. He deftly weaves foreign policy, national politics, and territorial history, while not slighting any of these perspectives.


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His study will become the standard for territorial Louisiana and his substitution of "incorporation" for "Americanization" should have a lasting impact on the study of Louisiana history. Even for those interested in other aspects of Louisiana's history, Kastor's blending of multiple perspectives including international, national, and local, and white, black, and Native American sets a standard that other scholars of Louisiana history should emulate.

Citation: John Sacher.