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Frontiers of ScienceImperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850$
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Cameron B. Strang

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640471

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640471.001.0001

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Astronomy and U.S. Expansion in the Lower Mississippi Valley

Astronomy and U.S. Expansion in the Lower Mississippi Valley

(p.129) 3 Astronomy and U.S. Expansion in the Lower Mississippi Valley
Frontiers of Science

Cameron B. Strang

University of North Carolina Press

U.S. expansion into the lower Mississippi Valley from 1795 to 1810 evinced and inspired many of the ways that officials and experts in the early United States used astronomy to promote territorial growth. Yet Anglo-Americans did not simply export scientific practices to the United States’ new territories. Peaceful and violent encounters among Spaniards and Anglos, masters and slaves, inhabitants and administrators, and whites and Indians all shaped the practice of astronomy in the Gulf South and, moreover, influenced how astronomy and imperialism overlapped in the United States on the whole. Geopolitical competition motivated the work of the Spanish and U.S. commissions of the Florida boundary survey (1798–1800), violence against slaves enabled astronomers like William Dunbar to perform disciplined observations, and interimperial exchanges of data made José Joaquín de Ferrer y Cafranga a prominent figure in the United States’ scientific community.

Keywords:   astronomy, U.S. expansion, Louisiana, Mississippi Territory, William Dunbar, Thomas Jefferson, José Joaquín de Ferrer y Cafranga, slavery, borderlands

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