Independence Lost: Lives On The Edge Of The American Revolution by Kathleen DuvalIndependence Lost: Lives On The Edge Of The American Revolution by Kathleen Duval

Independence Lost: Lives On The Edge Of The American Revolution

byKathleen Duval

Paperback | April 12, 2016

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A rising-star historian offers a significant new global perspective on the Revolutionary War with the story of the conflict as seen through the eyes of the outsiders of colonial society

Winner of the Journal of the American Revolution Book of the Year Award • Winner of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of New Jersey History Prize • Finalist for the George Washington Book Prize

Over the last decade, award-winning historian Kathleen DuVal has revitalized the study of early America’s marginalized voices. Now, in Independence Lost, she recounts an untold story as rich and significant as that of the Founding Fathers: the history of the Revolutionary Era as experienced by slaves, American Indians, women, and British loyalists living on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

While citizens of the thirteen rebelling colonies came to blows with the British Empire over tariffs and parliamentary representation, the situation on the rest of the continent was even more fraught. In the Gulf of Mexico, Spanish forces clashed with Britain’s strained army to carve up the Gulf Coast, as both sides competed for allegiances with the powerful Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek nations who inhabited the region. Meanwhile, African American slaves had little control over their own lives, but some individuals found opportunities to expand their freedoms during the war.

Independence Lost reveals that individual motives counted as much as the ideals of liberty and freedom the Founders espoused: Independence had a personal as well as national meaning, and the choices made by people living outside the colonies were of critical importance to the war’s outcome. DuVal introduces us to the Mobile slave Petit Jean, who organized militias to fight the British at sea; the Chickasaw diplomat Payamataha, who worked to keep his people out of war; New Orleans merchant Oliver Pollock and his wife, Margaret O’Brien Pollock, who risked their own wealth to organize funds and garner Spanish support for the American Revolution; the half-Scottish-Creek leader Alexander McGillivray, who fought to protect indigenous interests from European imperial encroachment; the Cajun refugee Amand Broussard, who spent a lifetime in conflict with the British; and Scottish loyalists James and Isabella Bruce, whose work on behalf of the British Empire placed them in grave danger. Their lives illuminate the fateful events that took place along the Gulf of Mexico and, in the process, changed the history of North America itself.

Adding new depth and moral complexity, Kathleen DuVal reinvigorates the story of the American Revolution. Independence Lost is a bold work that fully establishes the reputation of a historian who is already regarded as one of her generation’s best.

Praise for Independence Lost

“[An] astonishing story . . . Independence Lost will knock your socks off. To read [this book] is to see that the task of recovering the entire American Revolution has barely begun.”The New York Times Book Review
“A richly documented and compelling account.”The Wall Street Journal
“A remarkable, necessary—and entirely new—book about the American Revolution.”The Daily Beast
“A completely new take on the American Revolution, rife with pathos, double-dealing, and intrigue.”—Elizabeth A. Fenn, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World

From the Hardcover edition.
Kathleen DuVal teaches Early American history and American Indian history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous books include The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent, winner of the J. G. Ragsdale Book Award from the Arkansas Historical Association. She is also co-editor of Inter...
Title:Independence Lost: Lives On The Edge Of The American RevolutionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 7.97 × 5.17 × 0.97 inPublished:April 12, 2016Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0812981200

ISBN - 13:9780812981209

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Read from the Book

Chapter OneThe Gulf CoastWhen the letter from Congress arrived, West Florida Governor Peter Chester was building himself a new house. Most of Pensacola’s buildings had log frames with sides of bark and plaster and thatched roofs made of palmetto leaves, but the governor’s would be made of brick with a balcony and a shingle roof. It was a sign of British permanence in their relatively new colony, and West Florida’s leaders hoped that more development would follow.From their town, Pensacolans could look out onto a place of striking colors—white sand beaches, water in hues from icy blue to gelatinous green to deep indigo, dark green sea grasses, and tall yellow sea oats. To European explorers in previous centuries, this coast had been a confusing array of inlets and barrier islands, but eighteenth-century merchant sailors knew the region well and skillfully navigated its shoreline to enter its harbors and approach its port towns. Pensacola Bay was a large deepwater port, its narrow entryway well protected by the Santa Rosa barrier island. Nearby Mobile Bay was much shallower, so ships had to unload at Dauphin Island onto smaller sailboats and canoes, which then traveled the forty miles across the bay to the town of Mobile. In the same manner, large ships approaching New Orleans stopped at Balize at the mouth of the river to unload onto smaller vessels to reach the coast’s largest and busiest port.New Orleans was more physically impressive than either Mobile or Pensacola, and its buildings tended to be of higher quality than those found in most colonial towns. That city’s several thousand residents lived in the low-lying flatland now called the French Quarter, protected by levees from the unpredictable Mississippi River. The better buildings were built of plastered and whitewashed wood planks with glass windows and stone foundations and chimneys, but most houses were single-story log-framed buildings that sat directly on the sand, with windows covered in linen cloths. As in Mobile and Pensacola, houses were hot in summer and cold and drafty in winter. Slaves, as usual, had the worst accommodations. Hurricanes and smaller storms caused frequent damage, and buildings had to be perpetually repaired and rebuilt. As the capital of the colony of Louisiana, the city had a cathedral, an Ursuline convent, government buildings, several schools, and many taverns. In and around the central market of New Orleans, vendors sold goods to the city’s white, black, Indian, and mixed-ancestry customers. Pigs, chickens, goats, and vegetable gardens were ubiquitous, and on the edge of town, herds of cattle roamed.Trade had made the region cosmopolitan. Most of the people and goods on the Gulf Coast came from somewhere else: Indian towns to the north, other colonies, Europe, or Africa. The fur trade of the lower Mississippi Valley was the lifeblood of Gulf Coast commerce. Indian and European traders carried skins, furs, and tallow down the region’s rivers in huge canoes and flatboats to the port cities. At the ports, dockworkers loaded the products of the hunt onto ships, as well as timber cut from nearby forests, barrels of tar processed from pine trees, and baked hardtack and other provisions for sailors. Enslaved men and women on plantations along the lower Mississippi and its tributaries grew and processed tobacco, rice, and indigo, which were sailed from Gulf ports to markets around the Atlantic. In return, merchant ships arrived with cotton, linen, taffeta, silk, wool, rum, candles, soap, hats, wine, kettles, knives, needles, flour, sugar, fruits, spices, muskets, gunpowder, ammunition, and other products from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They also brought human beings to sell in the slave markets of the major Gulf ports.Despite their involvement in global networks of trade, the people in and around the Gulf Coast still lived in the early modern world of small communities where kin relationships dominated and information traveled only as quickly as a horse, canoe, or sailing ship dependent on winds and currents could carry it. Parents understood that if they had several children, it was unlikely that all would survive the treacherous years of early childhood.The colonial posts of the Gulf Coast had changed hands several times, most recently in the Seven Years’ War. Because that war began in the Ohio Valley, where British settlers pushing west from Virginia and Pennsylvania clashed with the Indians and their French allies, British colonists called it the French and Indian War. Soon, however, the war spread to Europe and beyond. Spain joined the war late, and its help was not enough to prevent France from surrendering.The Treaty of Paris of 1763 dramatically reshuffled colonial possessions. France surrendered all of Canada to Britain as well as the half of Louisiana that lay east of the Mississippi River, including Mobile and the smaller inland posts of Baton Rouge and Natchez. The British renamed this region “West Florida.” Spain was eager to regain Havana, seized by Britain during the war, so Spain traded Britain the Florida peninsula, which the British called “East Florida.” To compensate Spain for being dragged into the losing venture, France gave Spain the western half of Louisiana, including New Orleans. Thus France lost all of its colonies on the North American continent.Because of European protectionism, including Britain’s Navigation Acts, direct trade between now-British West Florida and now-Spanish Louisiana—which had all been French Louisiana before the treaty—was suddenly illegal. Commerce thrived anyway. British traders had better and cheaper goods, so they rowed canoes (or “floating warehouses,” as Louisianans called them) into the middle of the Mississippi River or its lakes to sell British-manufactured goods to consumers in the New Orleans market. Louisianans paid with rum and wheat as well as gold and silver dug from the mines of Spanish Mexico, precious metals that the British empire sorely lacked.The vast interior of both sides of the Mississippi Valley was Indian country. A few small European settlements and trading posts—Natchez, Baton Rouge, Manchac, Natchitoches, Arkansas Post, St. Louis—hugged the Mississippi River and its large tributaries, but, despite claims on paper, Europeans controlled fewer than one hundred square miles of territory in Louisiana and West Florida. In contrast, Indians of various nations held some three hundred thousand square miles. Until the 1760s, the Indian population of the region outnumbered the colonial population (counting Europeans, slaves, and free people of color) by a factor of ten, even after Indians had suffered for almost three centuries from diseases the newcomers had brought. As the British in West Florida quickly learned, they were “surrounded with ten thousand Indians capable of bearing arms.” When the Revolution began, that was still approximately the ratio west of the Mississippi River, but the massive immigration of British settlers and their slaves since 1763 was bringing the colonial population of British West Florida closer to the size of its neighboring Native population.Indians themselves were not one people, any more than the colonial newcomers were. They spoke dozens of languages, had diverse economic and political systems, and were every bit as motivated by commerce as the Europeans. Three large groups dominated the Gulf South: the Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. The Creeks, a fairly new confederacy of smaller groups, lived in the river valleys of the region that would become the states of Alabama and Georgia. The Choctaws controlled the territory to the west, north of Mobile. And farther north, the Chickasaws lived in what is now Mississippi and Tennessee. Like colonists, southeastern Indians built their towns on waterways and trading paths. Women farmed corn, beans, squash, and tobacco, and men tended cattle and pigs for the town’s consumption and for sale. They built private homes, public gathering spaces, and workshops for processing deerskins or pottery with vertical wood or cane frames interlaced with horizontal small branches, covered with mud, and thatched with palmettos.Even as commerce abounded in the Gulf Coast, only a careless observer would fail to see evidence of recent wars and fear of war. Each colonial town was nestled near a fort, into which the townspeople could flee when trouble approached. To the north, Native towns were surrounded by wooden stockades. From the south, trading ships protected themselves with cannons and were outfitted with sails designed for quick maneuvering into or out of a conflict on the seas. Watchtowers with cannons protected forts and stockades. Travelers carried muskets, bows, hatchets, and knives and knew how to use them.In the early 1770s, trade was more common than warfare on the Gulf Coast, but the balance was about to shift again. Soon the new house that the governor of West Florida was building would become a barracks for British troops. Warriors on the march and refugees in flight would soon tread ancient trading paths. In a few years, men would lie dying outside and inside Mobile and Pensacola. More than battle wounds, disease spread by traveling armies and famine caused by interrupted commerce would claim the lives of Natives and colonists on all sides.The aftermath of the Seven Years’ War shifted relationships between European empires and people living in North America. Indians and colonists alike learned that protecting autonomy and economic opportunity might necessitate violence to rein in the new (or newly confident) empire. Indians throughout the eastern half of North America would insist that Britain’s victory did not give it control over Indian lands nor make Indians into British subjects, and some of them around the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley would prove their point in Pontiac’s War in 1763–1764. French residents of New Orleans would gain concessions by rising up against Spanish rule in 1768. And, of course, taxpayers in Boston and other parts of the British colonies would protest Parliament’s attempts to pay for the war with new taxes.The following chapters introduce people who lived through these changes and would react to the next war as people usually do, by applying the lessons learned in the last one. Perhaps the greatest lessons were that empires come and go, and the burdensome strictures of one empire might be cast off for the promises of a more beneficial order. Chapter TwoPayamatahaDecisive battles would soon take place near the Gulf Coast, but the region’s fate would depend mostly on decisions made elsewhere: by Spanish military commanders in Havana, British ministers in Whitehall, and town assemblies across North America’s interior in which Native men and women debated how their peoples should respond to the conflict. Mapmakers in Europe might write “Louisiana” or “West Florida” across wide swaths of the continent, but the vast majority of the land was Indian country. The outcomes of the war between the British and Spanish as well as of the conflict within the British empire would depend on the decisions of Native populations to fight or stay home. Among the Chickasaws, the man with the leading role in the decision would be Payamataha.British expectations of Chickasaw military assistance had a long history. Starting decades before Payamataha’s birth in the mid-1720s, Chickasaws and Britons had fought together against the French and various mutual Indian enemies. As the Revolutionary War began, the British again expected Payamataha’s people to help defeat the rebels and any others who joined their side. In the Revolutionary War, however, Chickasaws would decide differently. The history of British allegiance caused officials and even recent historians to classify Indians who fought against the American rebels as “loyalists” to the British empire, but in fact their decisions to fight stemmed from their own goals, including political independence. While much of North America and Western Europe prepared for war, Payamataha and most of his people broke from precedent and chose peace.War and the ChickasawsPayamataha began his career as a warrior, which was the standard path to leadership among the Chickasaws. Like most of their neighbors, they descended from a powerful Mississippian chiefdom, but while others had splintered into small towns and bands by the late 1600s, the Chickasaws remained a cohesive group of towns. They still centralized leadership in a principal civil chief, who was chosen by a combination of heredity and proven merit. He shared power with a chief in charge of war and diplomacy as well as with town and clan civil and war chiefs, and he depended on persuasion and goods distribution for his influence. When major issues arose, large assemblies of Chickasaw women and men met to discuss and debate the course of action to be taken.Like most southeastern Indians—indeed, like most of the world—the Chickasaws in the past had captured enemies in battle and turned some of them into slaves. Throughout the ancient and medieval world, slaves were low-ranked members of society forced to labor for others, often far from home and at risk of being sold or killed if found wanting by a master. But in most cases, a slave’s children would not necessarily be enslaved, and slavery was not confined to a particular race. In some societies, there were opportunities for skilled slaves to improve their status or even gain their freedom. Antebellum southern plantation slavery is an anomaly in the long history of slavery in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia.Beginning in the 1600s, with the new English market at Charleston (Charles Town, as it was known then), Chickasaws accelerated their slave-raiding. They found that human captives were easy to transport, did not require the processing that deerskins did, and fetched a higher price in England’s Caribbean colonies, which were eager for enslaved labor. Chickasaws became the primary raiders over hundreds of square miles east and west of the Mississippi. Chickasaw warriors attacked traveling parties or undefended towns of Choctaws, Quapaws, Tunicas, Taensas, Colapissas, Caddos, various Illinois peoples, and occasionally Creeks and Catawbas to sell in Charleston. The Chickasaw population was about five thousand in the early 1700s, in contrast to probably twenty thousand Choctaws and some ten thousand people in the Creek Confederacy. But their strikes and retreats were rapid and well coordinated, and they maintained good relationships with key Indian towns that traded with the British. By the early 1700s, their reputation for ferocity was widespread. Neighbors called them “the most military people of any about the great river,” meaning the Mississippi.Although the British market for Indian slaves declined when Carolina colonists began to import more African slaves after the 1715 Yamasee War, Chickasaw warfare against the Choctaws, Quapaws, Catawbas, and some Illinois peoples continued and drew the Chickasaws into enmity against the French. Persistent reasons for warfare included various unresolved grievances, a continuing (albeit depressed) market in Indian slaves, and the Chickasaws’ use of captives to supplement their declining population. Starting in 1729, the Chickasaws engaged in a series of wars against the French, which bolstered the Chickasaw alliance with the English, who were already competing with the French for imperial territory and trade.Warfare changed how and where the Chickasaws lived. At the start of the 1700s, the approximately five thousand Chickasaws lived in small towns dispersed across the upland prairie. As war decreased security, they moved to clusters of fortified towns on a ridge overlooking the region. War and disease decreased the population. The dangers of war persuaded many Chickasaw families to leave Chickasaw country and live as refugees. As a result, there were only about 1,600 Chickasaws living in Chickasaw country by the time of the Seven Years’ War, all in a single fortified town known as Big Town.

Editorial Reviews

“[An] astonishing story . . . Paint yourself a mental picture of the American War of Independence. If all you see are British redcoats battling minutemen and Continentals, Kathleen DuVal’s Independence Lost will knock your socks off. . . . To read [this book] is to see the task of recovering the entire American Revolution has barely begun.”—The New York Times Book Review  “[DuVal] has produced a richly documented and compelling account . . . to form a layered history of connected, sometimes shared, experiences.”—The Wall Street Journal   “A remarkable, necessary—and entirely new—book about the American Revolution. DuVal’s history reminds us that if we celebrate a more inclusive vision of the United States this Fourth of July, one that seems ascendant these days, it is not the one the founding generation had in mind.”—The Daily Beast“Declaring that the American Revolution was fought in the name of empire almost seems blasphemous. However, DuVal excellently details how the event was actually a war for empire along the Gulf Coast of the United States. . . . Highly recommended for students and scholars of the revolution, American South, borderlands, and forgotten theaters of war; along with those looking for a solid read in history.”—Library Journal (starred review)“With deep research and lively writing, Kathleen DuVal musters a compelling cast to recover the dramatic story of the American Revolution in borderlands uneasily shared by rival empires, enslaved people, and defiant natives. She deftly reveals powerful but long-hidden dimensions of a revolution rich with many possible alternatives to the triumph of the United States.”—Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Internal Enemy   “In a completely new take on the American Revolution and a riveting contribution to history, Kathleen DuVal explains how an unexpected cast of Gulf Coast characters fought for their own version of self-determination. The story is gripping, rife with pathos, double-dealing, and intrigue. The outcome is compelling, reverberating through American history to the present.”—Elizabeth A. Fenn, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Encounters at the Heart of the World   “Independence Lost is an extraordinary achievement. Rooting compelling personal stories in deep original research, Kathleen DuVal brings to life a war for American independence that will be utterly new to most readers.”—Daniel K. Richter, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Before the Revolution   “Kathleen DuVal has found an exciting and accessible way to convey this history without sacrificing the richness and intricacy of a part of North America where multiple Indian nations—as well as Britain, France, Spain, and the emerging United States—competed with one another for power.”—Andrés Reséndez, author of A Land So Strange   “A superb example of how the familiar becomes unfamiliar when viewed from a fresh angle, Independence Lost is a work of stunning scholarship with which anyone interested in the origins of the United States will have to contend.”—Andrew Cayton, co-author of The Dominion of War   “With stirring prose and through inventive, indefatigable research, Kathleen DuVal recovers a place in time and a cast of compelling characters that seldom feature in our accounts of the wars that created the United States. The result is an important, original, and entirely unforgettable book.”—Jane Kamensky, author of The Exchange ArtistFrom the Hardcover edition.