Information about the author.
In this story of a frontier village in the early American Republic, Alan Taylor explores the lives of Judge William Cooper and the novelist James Fenimore Cooper—father and son. As frontier speculator, landlord, and politician, the father played a leading role in the conquest, resettlement, and environmental transformation of the early nation. Drawing upon his childhood memories of the New York frontier, the son created the historical fictions that made him the most popular, influential, and controversial American novelist of the early nineteenth century.
Taylor makes it clear that in a rapidly changing nation William Cooper’s development of Cooperstown and his son’s creation of the village of Templeton in The Pioneers were different stages of a common effort, over two generations, to create, sustain, and justify a wealthy and powerful estate. Both sought that unity of social, economic, political, and cultural authority idealized…[more]
This searing story of slavery and freedom in the Chesapeake by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian reveals the pivot in the nation’s path between the founding and civil war.
Frederick Douglass recalled that slaves living along Chesapeake Bay longingly viewed sailing ships as “freedom’s swift-winged angels.” In 1813 those angels appeared in the bay as British warships coming to punish the Americans for declaring war on the empire. Over many nights, hundreds of slaves paddled out to the warships seeking protection for their families from the ravages of slavery. The runaways pressured the British admirals into becoming liberators. As guides, pilots, sailors, and marines, the former slaves used their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war. They enabled the British to escalate their onshore attacks and to capture and burn Washington, D.C. Tidewater masters had long dreaded their slaves as “an internal enemy.”…[more]