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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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Allegiance, Identities, and National Scientific Communities

Allegiance, Identities, and National Scientific Communities

(p.162) 4 Allegiance, Identities, and National Scientific Communities
Frontiers of Science

Cameron B. Strang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter studies how individuals in the lower Mississippi Valley fashioned identities as men of science. It focuses on the 1790s to the 1810s, an era when several empires and other groups competed for power in the region. Local experts tried to benefit from circulating information among a variety of actual and potential patrons, and, in the process, they manipulated and blurred the boundaries between the United States’ scientific community and those of other polities competing for the borderlands. The chapter includes case studies of the Spanish naturalist and spy Thomas Power, the Scottish planter and astronomer William Dunbar, and the French engineer and slave trader Barthélémy Lafon. Their stories reveal how territorial expansion both added to, and exacerbated deep tensions within, the United States’ scientific community.

Keywords:   allegiance, identity, U.S. expansion, science, Thomas Power, William Dunbar, Barthélémy Lafon, Thomas Jefferson, Mississippi Valley

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