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Empire by Collaboration
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Empire by Collaboration
Indians, Colonists, and Governments in Colonial Illinois Country

Robert Michael Morrissey

352 pages | 6 x 9 | 24 illus.
Cloth 2015 | ISBN 9780812246995 | $47.50s | Outside the Americas £38.00
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Early American Studies
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"Drawing on an astounding array of documentary, linguistic, and material evidence, Robert Morrissey illuminates the fascinating world of the evolving Illinois Indian and French colonial towns that survived and thrived by partnering with one another and with a succession of empires—French, Spanish, and British. In explaining these innovative, flexible, pragmatic, and ambitious people, Empire by Collaboration dashes the old stereotypes of lazy French and dependent Indians."—Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina

"Empire by Collaboration makes an important and sophisticated argument about colonial Illinois Country. Morrissey shows how the fluid, intercultural relations that characterized initial settlement gave way within a generation to distinctly bordered communities of Francophone Christians and traditional Illinois. But these borders were not imposed from the imperial center; rather, the French community that emerged on this frontier was self-defined by culture, not ethnic origin, and as such, it is a fascinating case study of assimilation."—Leslie Choquette, Assumption College

"Empire by Collaboration is a superb contribution to Illinois Country studies. Painting on a broad canvas, Morrissey brings together Indians, French colonists, and European imperial rivalries in unprecedented fashion. Indispensable reading for anyone interested in eighteenth-century America, this book boldly pushes an often marginalized region into the mainstream of colonial history."—Carl J. Ekberg, author of French Roots in the Illinois Country

From the beginnings of colonial settlement in Illinois Country, the region was characterized by self-determination and collaboration that did not always align with imperial plans. The French in Quebec established a somewhat reluctant alliance with the Illinois Indians while Jesuits and fur traders planted defiant outposts in the Illinois River Valley beyond the Great Lakes. These autonomous early settlements were brought into the French empire only after the fact. As the colony grew, the authority that governed the region was often uncertain. Canada and Louisiana alternately claimed control over the Illinois throughout the eighteenth century. Later, British and Spanish authorities tried to divide the region along the Mississippi River. Yet Illinois settlers and Native people continued to welcome and partner with European governments, even if that meant playing the competing empires against one another in order to pursue local interests.

Empire by Collaboration explores the remarkable community and distinctive creole culture of colonial Illinois Country, characterized by compromise and flexibility rather than domination and resistance. Drawing on extensive archival research, Robert Michael Morrissey demonstrates how Natives, officials, traders, farmers, religious leaders, and slaves constantly negotiated local and imperial priorities and worked purposefully together to achieve their goals. Their pragmatic intercultural collaboration gave rise to new economies, new forms of social life, and new forms of political engagement. Empire by Collaboration shows that this rugged outpost on the fringe of empire bears central importance to the evolution of early America.

Robert Michael Morrissey teaches history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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