James Madison, the South, and the Trans-Appalachian West, 1783-1803
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James Madison, the South, and the Trans-Appalachian West, 1783-1803

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The strong relationship that historians have described between the South and the trans-Appalachian West in the early nineteenth century had its origins in the twenty-year period after the American Revolution when a group of far-sighted southerners, with James Madison in the forefront, worked to form a political bond between the two regions. While many historians have taken this close relationship for granted or have dismissed it as a natural product of cultural similarities, strong family bonds and slavery being just two, it was built deliberately by a handful of forward-looking southerners with hard work and dedication. Jeffrey A. Zemler carefully analyzes the development of this bond and the history of these two regions during this twenty-year period, which is far more complicated than historians have imagined or described.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 222 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 20.32mm | 385.55g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 073918217X
  • 9780739182178

About Jeffrey Allen Zemler

Jeffrey A. Zemler earned his PhD in American history from the University of North Texas.show more

Review quote

Zemler makes an interesting and important argument. From 1780 to 1800, 'far-sighted' southern leaders-of whom the Virginian James Madison was a leading example-worked to create political and cultural bonds between the established southern states of the Atlantic seaboard and the emergent states of the trans-Appalachian West. (Zemler uses 'West' as a label for the territories west of the Appalachians and south of the Ohio River, which strikes this reviewer as too imprecise.) It is this Madisonian agenda, Zemler contends, that helps readers understand the multitudinous political battles of the American Republic's first two decades. The pursuit of a South-'West' alliance informed debates over issues ranging from the role of the House of Representatives in diplomacy, to the idea of a 'standing army' during this insecure period, to the place of slavery in an expanding southwestern demesne. Moreover, Zemler shows, historians studying the 'Old South' need to look earlier for its origins, as the 'southern-ness' of the eventual cotton frontier was already well in place by 1800. This well-researched, closely argued book will be read with profit by students of the early Republic and Old South. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries. CHOICE Zemler has provided a service by taking a fresh look at the West in American politics and connecting issues that are not generally connected...Zemler has made a solid contribution to the study of a southern sectional identity. Virginia Magazine Zemler makes a strong case for the significance of the western frontier in the maturation of regional and national politics and America's fledgling economy...Zemler skillfully reveals the centrality of the region [trans-Applachian West] and its political economy in the broader national debates and sectional political struggles of the period...There is much to be admired in Zemler's study, especially his ability to tease out the often obfuscated appearance of western issues in broader congressional debates and James Madison's constantly evolving views of the region...[The book] is an excellent addition to the growing historiography of the trans-Applachian West. Register of the Kentucky Historical Society In his succinct and carefully researched new book, Jeffrey Allen Zemler traces the evolution of the political relationship between the South and West in the 1780s and 1790s...James Madison, the South, and the Trans- Appalachian West is a handsome volume...[Zemler] has made a useful contribution to our understanding of the politics of expansion in the early republic. Ohio Valley History Jeffrey Zemler's James Madison, the South, and the Trans-Appalachian West, 1783-1803 follows the efforts of leading southern statesmen and politicians-especially James Madison-to forge close political ties with the trans-Appalachian west, setting the stage for the old South that would emerge in the 1820s. Importantly, Zemler shows that sectional and regional fears animated southern and national politics from the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 straight through to the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency in 1800. -- John Craig Hammond, Penn State University A smartly crafted book that shows how "nationalist" leaders from the South, particularly James Madison, were intent on winning the political alliance of the West as a means to insure Southern power in the new federal government. In this clearly written and well-documented book, Jeffery Zemler introduces new ways to understand a variety of issues faced by the Founding Forefathers, from the placement of the capitol on the Potomac River to debates over the value of a standing army in peacetime, and from the perplexing problem of adding new states to the debates over the role of the House of Representatives in treaty making. A very fine book. -- Alan Gallay, Texas Christian University This thoroughly researched, well-written account provides new insight into regional interests in western expansion during the early national era. Jeffery Zemler argues that James Madison, in particular, believed the political futures of the South and the West must be entwined. Madison was at the center of the development of a strong political relationship between the two regions. This is an essential book for anyone interested in the early national history of the antebellum South and the United States as a nation. -- D. Harland Hagler, University of North Texasshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgment Editorial Note Chapter 1. Introduction Chapter 2. What to Do with the West? Chapter 3. A Nationalist Viewpoint Chapter 4. The West and the New Constitution Chapter 5. The Fight for the Potomac Chapter 6. A Western Perspective Chapter 7. An Unhappy West Chapter 8. And Slavery Chapter 9. Western Anxieties and the Military Debate Chapter 10. A Change in Emphasis Chapter 11. Epilogue: Looking East Bibliographyshow more