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A Continuous State of War: Empire Building and Race Making in the Civil War–Era Gulf South

Maria Angela Diaz

From 1845 to 1865 the Gulf of Mexico was at the center of American expansion and southern imperialism. A Continuous State of War tells the story of several communities, such as Galveston, New Orleans, and Pensacola as well as countries such as Mexico and Cuba to uncover the way that that wars within the upper rim of the Gulf of Mexico facilitated American and southern attempts to conquer Latin American nations. In the push for westward expansion that preceded the Civil War, white southerners along with other Americans engaged in violent conquest in Latin America and the American West. Through the wars that are chronicled here, white southern concepts of race became more rigidly fixed.

Maria Angela Diaz covers several conflicts leading up to the Civil War with Mexicans, Cubans, and Native Americans. She places the Civil War within this framework and follows the trajectory of relations with Latin America through the end of the Civil War and ex-Confederates’ attempts to emigrate abroad. Gulf Coast communities facilitated both the physical efforts to seize territory and the construction of the highly racialized imperialist ideas that reimagined Latin America as a region that could secure the South’s future. Yet the pursuit of that territory created a fluctuating and uncertain situation that shaped the choices of the diverse peoples who lived along the upper rim of the Gulf of Mexico in ways they did not expect.


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