Archive | May, 2016

Audubon in the Canebrake

We know John James Audubon because of his brilliant paintings of American birds, paintings based on his close observation of hundreds of species during the course of years of journeys covering the entire eastern half of the continent.  We know less about his manic energy, his incredible stamina, and his fondness for rather nasty practical […]

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An Interactive Map: The Spread of the Plantation Economy

Several posts in this series have discussed the gradual loss of rights and dignity by free people of color, as each new frontier became “civilized.”  This fascinating link, shared by Rebecca Krause-Hardie, allows us to see something of what was driving that process.  If you hover over the link for each decade in succession, and […]

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Upriver by Keelboat was the Hard Part

Going down a river on a flatboat was the easy part.  When you reached your destination, or the place on the river nearest your destination, you simply took the boat apart, sold it for firewood, or used the logs to build yourself a new cabin.  Going upriver was something else entirely. Keelboats, described by the […]

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With the Current: Journeys by Flatboat

When the first permanent European settlers arrived in the Nashville area in 1780, they came by flatboat down the Ohio River.  When Newit Drew and his family left, some 36 years later, they left in the same way.  Until the coming of the steamboats, flatboats were a primary means of transportation for emigrants traveling west […]

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