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Castorland Journal: An Account of the Exploration and Settlement of Northern New York State by French Emigres in the Years 1793 to 1797 [Hardcover]

Simon Desjardins , Pierre Pharoux , John A. Gallucci


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Book Description

June 24 2010
The Castorland Journal is a diary, a travel narrative about early New York, a work of autobiography, and a narrative of a dramatic and complex period in American history. In 1792 Parisian businessmen and speculators established the New York Company, one of the most promising French attempts to speculate for American land following the American Revolution. The company's goal was to purchase and settle fertile land in northwestern New York and then resell it to European investors. In 1793, two of the company's representatives, Simon Desjardins and Pierre Pharoux, arrived in New York to begin settlement of a large tract of undeveloped land. The tract, which was named Castorland for its abundant beaver population ("castor" is the French word for beaver), was located in northwestern New York State, along the Black River and in present-day Lewis and Jefferson counties.

John A. Gallucci's edition is the first modern scholarly translation of the account Desjardins and Pharoux wrote of their efforts in Castorland from 1793 to 1797. While the journal can be read as tragedy, it also has many pages of satire and irony. Its descriptions of nature and references to the romantic and the sublime belong to the spirit of eighteenth-century literature. The journal details encounters with Native Americans, the authors' process of surveying the Black River, their contacts with Philip Schuyler and Baron Steuben, their excursions to Philadelphia to confer with Thomas Jefferson, Desjardins' trip to New York City to engage the legal services of Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr, the planting of crops, and the frustrations of disease and natural obstacles. The Castorland Journal is historically significant because it is an especially rich account of land speculation in early America, the displacement of Native Americans, frontier life, and politics and diplomacy in the 1790s. The Cornell edition of the journal features Gallucci's introduction and explanatory footnotes, several appendixes, maps, and illustrations.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (June 24 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801446260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801446269
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"Castorland Journal is especially rich on the interaction of foreign and American land speculators and on the displacement of native peoples. Perceptive, articulate, and frank, the French authors crafted an especially detailed and insightful (and often highly critical) account of their flawed attempt to profit from the rapid expansion of new settlements."—Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis, author of The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution

"Castorland Journal gives a wonderfully vivid portrait of life on the early American frontier. The journal by Simon Desjardins and Pierre Pharoux sheds tremendous insight on the process of land development in the post-Revolutionary period, on European-Indian relations, and on social life in the backcountry more generally. Elegantly written, it focuses on the often-overlooked but critical area of northwest New York on the U.S./Canada borderland."—François Furstenberg, University of Montreal, author of In the Name of the Father

About the Author

John A. Gallucci is Associate Professor of French at Colgate University.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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