Seeds of Empire

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Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850 (The David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History) Paperback – August 1, 2018
by Andrew J. Torget


By the late 1810s, a global revolution in cotton had remade the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing wealth and waves of Americans to the Gulf Coast while also devastating the lives and villages of Mexicans in Texas. In response, Mexico threw open its northern territories to American farmers in hopes that cotton could bring prosperity to the region. Thousands of Anglo-Americans poured into Texas, but their insistence that slavery accompany them sparked pitched battles across Mexico. An extraordinary alliance of Anglos and Mexicans in Texas came together to defend slavery against abolitionists in the Mexican government, beginning a series of fights that culminated in the Texas Revolution. In the aftermath, Anglo-Americans rebuilt the Texas borderlands into the most unlikely creation: the first fully committed slaveholders' republic in North America.

Seeds of Empire tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States, and how the rise and spectacular collapse of the Republic of Texas as a nation built on cotton and slavery proved to be a blueprint for the Confederacy of the 1860s.


Editorial Reviews



Written in a clear, engaging style, and supported by prodigious research in both Mexican and U.S. archives, Seeds of Empire offers a complete reconfiguration of this period of Texas history.  It will undoubtedly serve as the standard work on the topic.--American Historical Review

[An] insightful volume [that] provides a new analysis focused on the development of cotton farming.--Southwestern Historical Quarterly

Incisive and accessible . . . bridges borderlands history with that of the Atlantic World, crafting a multifaceted view of the rise of 'King Cotton' across borders and oceans.--Choice

A well-argued, brisk survey of the formative decades of modern Texas that challenges us to reconsider why it is that the legacy of slavery continues to haunt our civic and cultural life, both in Texas and throughout the nation.--Western Historical Quarterly

Torget ultimately has crafted a work to which scholars of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands should aspire--one that effectively balances U.S. and Mexican sources and addresses vital historical issues resonating from shifting national and imperial spaces.--Journal of American History

Well written, expertly researched, and interpretatively ambitious, Seeds of Empire immediately moves to the front ranks of monographs examining the long Civil War era on both sides of the Rio Grande.--Journal of the Civil War Era

Deeply researched and clearly written.--Journal of Southern History

The most nuanced and authoritative rewriting of Texas's origin myth to date.--Texas Monthly

Deeply researched and artfully written . . . Seeds of Empire brings new insight and nuance to the story of early Texas. . . . This is a fine and valuable addition to the library of Southwestern history, and it's a pleasure to read, as well.--Dallas Morning News

Expertly supports thoughtful arguments and deeply expands our understanding of the intersection between cotton, slavery, and empire.--H-Net Reviews



Andrew Torget's wonderful new book wrenches the history of Texas independence out of the grip of nationalists and exceptionalists. He shows that the Texas Republic was created by--and dissolved by--the massive force of the cotton revolution and slavery expansion that drove the rise of Western economic modernity. And he shows how the same forces tragically disrupted and destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of African Americans forced to move to the Cotton South's first independent slaveholding state.--Edward E. Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

In this engrossing book, Andrew J. Torget moves beyond national and state narratives to place cotton at the heart of the breathtaking transformation of the Gulf of Mexico region during the first half of the nineteenth century. His greatest accomplishment is to put in conversation processes and events that are frequently discussed in separate literatures. Seeds of Empire is a major work of reinterpretation.--Andres Resendez, author of Changing National Identities at the Frontier: Texas and New Mexico, 1800-1850

Seeds of Empire is a masterfully researched, elegantly written, and intellectually sophisticated study of the forces that shaped the U.S.-Mexican borderlands during the first half of the nineteenth century. Andrew Torget has written a fine and important book.--Gregg Cantrell, author of Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas


About the Author

Andrew J. Torget is assistant professor of history at the University of North Texas.

Product details

  • Series: The David J. Weber Series in the New Borderlands History
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University of North Carolina Press; Reprint edition (August 1, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469645564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469645568
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
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