The Market of the Western World: The Mississippi, the Founders, and the Forging of a Nation
My first book project, The Market of the Western World: The Mississippi, the Founders, and the Forging of a Nation details the process by which the American republic made the leap over the Appalachian Mountains in the 1780s and 1790s. The work focuses on the sectional strife between the eastern states and western settlers caused by Spain's 1784 decision to close the Mississippi River to American trade.
Bringing together social, political, and diplomatic history, I detail the story of the economic and political development in the trans-Appalachian west in the nation's first two decades of existence. The closing of the Mississippi cut westerners off from access to markets, and in the process, made obtaining market access the key issue in western politics. My work traces why markets were so important in the agrarian world of the eighteenth century west, the consequences of the closed markets for local and national politics, and how, beginning in the 1790s, westerners crafted a distinctive political ideology elevating the acquisition of markets to the government's highest obligation.
I then document how the west's transition to cotton production elevated the region in the minds of the rest of the nation by tracing the movement of western cotton and flour to markets throughout the Atlantic World. By 1802, western trade had become vital to the national interest, a change that the nation acknowledged through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.