2016 Archives

SMU Clements Center awards top book prize Sept. 27

Andrew Torget’s ‘Seeds of Empire’ reexamines role cotton, slavery played in shaping Texas Revolution, Republic

August 15, 2016

By Kenny Ryan
SMU News

Seeds of Empire coverDALLAS (SMU)SMU’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies will present its annual book prize on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to historian Andrew J. Torget for Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

The David J. Weber-William P. Clements Prize for the Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America honors both the Center’s founding director and founding benefactor.

Torget, a former Clements Fellow, will be honored Sept. 27 at a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by a 6 p.m. lecture and book-signing at McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall, 3225 University, SMU. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To register, call 214-768-3684 or click here.

Andrew TorgetIn Seeds of Empire, Torget, associate professor of history at the University of North Texas, explores the roles that cotton and slavery played in fomenting the Texas Revolution, which was in part a reaction against abolitionists in the Mexican government, and in shaping Texas’ borderlands into the first fully-committed slaveholders’ republic in North America.

In selecting the book from a large field of entries, judges wrote: “Torget’s deep archival work brings a fresh perspective to the conflicts over slavery in Texas on the eve of the Civil War. The book’s most notable accomplishment is the emphasis on cotton and slavery as a world-wide system that bound Texas history to larger economic and political forces in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. He challenges the traditional interpretation that the westward movement in the early nineteenth century was primarily motivated by ideologies of racial supremacy that characterized Manifest Destiny. Instead, Torget demonstrates that, although westering Americans felt superior to the people whose lands they invaded, they mainly migrated to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the trans-Atlantic cotton economy that the Mexican government had established by offering them free land.”

Finalists for the Weber-Clements Book Prize are Emily Lutenski for West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands; and former Clements Fellow John Weber for From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century.

This is the eighth major book prize Seeds of Empire has won.

The $2,500 Weber-Clements Book Prize, administered by the Western History Association, honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book, including biography, on any aspect of Southwestern life, past or present. The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies is affiliated with the Department of History within SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The center was created to promote research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.  

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