The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History

William C. Davis, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-0-15-100925-1
Davis (The Pirates Laffite) presents a well-documented account of "America's second and smallest rebellion," led by a simple storekeeper named Reuben Kemper. The region of West Florida, settled increasingly by Americans after the Revolution, extended across what is now southern Alabama and Mississippi, and was controlled by Spain. Spain offered generous terms to settlers, who brought with them a shared culture preoccupied with law and order and insistent on individual rights. Their loyalty to Spain dwindled as it became less and less capable of providing an environment in which they could prosper morally or materially. As Spain fought for its existence against Napoleon, a local administration, left to its own devices, imposed increasing restrictions on immigration and land acquisitions. With civil and criminal law eroding, resistance emerged in 1810, creating a republic that, after 90 days, was absorbed by the United States. Davis tells this story with nuance and panache. This book exposes a nearly forgotten piece of America's history and character, when a desire for peace and stability, not manifest destiny, impelled a people to the shortest revolution in the nation's history. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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