A Whole Country in Commotion


The Louisiana Purchase and the American Southwest
Edited by Patrick G. Willias, S. Charles Bolton, and Jeannie M. Whayne
978-1-55728-784-7 (paper)
April 2005


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Elliott West, University of Arkansas
Dan Flores, University of Montana
Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina
Jeannie M. Whayne, University of Arkansas
S. Charles Bolton, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Joseph Patrick Key, Arkansas State University
Charles F. Robinson II, University of Arkansas
Lynn Foster, University of Arkansas, Little Rock
George Sabo III, University of Arkansas

Bringing together the work of prominent scholars and rising stars in southern, western, and Indian history, A Whole Country in Commotion explores lesser-known aspects of one of the better-known episodes in U.S. history. While the purchase has been seen as a great boon for the United States, doubling the size of the new nation and securing American navigation on the Mississippi River, it also brought turmoil to many.

Looking past the triumphal aspects of the purchase, this book examines the “negotiations among peoples, nations and empires that preceded and followed the actual transfer of territory.” Its nine essays highlight the “commotion” the purchase stirred up—among nations, among Louisiana residents and newcomers, even among those who remained east of the Mississippi.

Many of these essays look at the portion of the Louisiana territory that would become Arkansas to illustrate the profound impact of the purchase on the diverse populations of the American Southwest. Others explore the woeful commotion brought to many thousands of lives as Jefferson’s “noble bargain” set the stage for the forced migration of native and African Americans from the east to the west of the Mississippi.

This book is supported by The Blair Center for Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas.

Patrick G. Williams is an assistant professor of history at the University of Arkansas and associate editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly. He is the coauthor of Mapping America’s Past: A Historical Atlas.

S. Charles Bolton is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is the author of Territorial Ambition: Land and Society in Arkansas, 1800–1840 and Arkansas, 1800–1860: Remote and Restless.

Jeannie M. Whayne is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas, director of the Arkansas Center for Oral and Visual History, editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, and secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas Historical Association. She is co-author of Arkansas: A Narrative History, and co-editor of The Clinton Riddle: Perspectives on the Forty-second President.

“Because the Lewis and Clark expedition has diverted eyes to the north and west of the Louisiana Territory, the southwestern portion of the purchase has not received the attention it deserves. This superb collection of essays corrects that oversight.”
—Stephen Aron, director of the Institute for the Study of the American West at the Autry National Center, professor of history at the University of California–Los Angeles, and author of How the West was Lost