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The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company


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About the Author

CHARLES ROYSTER is Boyd Professor of History at Louisiana State University. His previous books include A Revolutionary People at War: The Continental Army and American Character, 1775-1783, which won the Francis Parkman Prize, and The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans, which won a Bancroft Prize and the Lincoln Prize.


The swamp featured in this book is a vast marshy region in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. In 1763, a small group of investorsÄincluding George WashingtonÄpurchased a huge chunk of this terrain. With the help of slave labor, they hoped to drain parts of the land to make room for farms for tobacco and other crops. They also planned to sell timber and wood shingles from the area's dense forests and to profit from roads and canals built through the land to transport commerce. The Dismal Swamp Company was largely a failure, not turning any profits until a decade after Washington's death. More than tracing the unhappy history of one business enterprise, this impressively annotated book by distinguished historian Royster (Louisiana State Univ.) provides a fascinating panorama of colorful characters (including numerous shady entrepreneurs), interesting glimpses into master-slave relations, and expert analyses of both American and British economic developments. Recommended for university and large public libraries.ÄThomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"Here is a narrative history of scope and of abundance, a fascinating story." --The Washington Times

"Vivid. . . . plunges readers into the rough world of colonial capitalism--a world swarming with adventurers, aristocrats, fools, rogues and visionaries all wearing masks of gentility." --The News & Observer (Raleigh)

"A veritable encyclopedia of early American get-rich-quick schemes." --Men's Journal

"[Royster] is a seasoned stylist, and tells this colorful story in rich detail." --The Washington Post

"Imagine Barbarians at the Gate with lace cuffs." --Wilton Barnhardt

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