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When Britain ceded the territory of West Florida— what is now Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida—to Spain in 1783, America was still too young to confidently fight in one of Europe’s endless territorial contests. So it was left to the settlers, bristling at Spanish misrule, to establish a foothold in the area. Enter the Kemper brothers, whose vigilante justice culminated in a small band of American residents drafting a constitution and establishing a new government. By the time President Madison sent troops to occupy the territory, assert U.S. authority under the Louisiana Purchase, and restore order, West Florida’s settlers had already announced their independence, becoming our country’s shortest-lived rogue “republic.” 

Meticulously researched and populated with the colorful characters that make American history a joy, this is the story of a young country testing its power on the global stage and a lost chapter in how the frontier spirit came to define American character. The first treatment of this little-known historical moment, The Rogue Republic shows how hardscrabble frontiersmen and gentleman farmers planted the seeds of civil war, marked the dawn of Manifest Destiny, and laid the groundwork for the American empire.

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