Flowers, Guns, and Money: Joel Roberts Poinsett and the Paradoxes of American Patriotism (American Beginnings, 1500-1900) (Paperback)

Flowers, Guns, and Money: Joel Roberts Poinsett and the Paradoxes of American Patriotism (American Beginnings, 1500-1900) By Lindsay Schakenbach Regele Cover Image

Flowers, Guns, and Money: Joel Roberts Poinsett and the Paradoxes of American Patriotism (American Beginnings, 1500-1900) (Paperback)

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A fascinating historical account of a largely forgotten statesman, who pioneered a form of patriotism that left an indelible mark on the early United States.

Joel Roberts Poinsett’s (17791851) brand of self-interested patriotism illuminates the paradoxes of the antebellum United States.  He was a South Carolina investor and enslaver, a confidant of Andrew Jackson, and a secret agent in South America who fought surreptitiously in Chile’s War for Independence. He was an ambitious Congressman and Secretary of War who oversaw the ignominy of the Trail of Tears and orchestrated America’s longest and costliest war against Native Americans, yet also helped found the Smithsonian. In addition, he was a naturalist, after whom the poinsettia—which he appropriated while he was serving as the first US ambassador to Mexico—is now named.
 
As Lindsay Schakenbach Regele shows in Flowers, Guns, and Money, Poinsett personified a type of patriotism that emerged following the American Revolution, one in which statesmen served the nation by serving themselves, securing economic prosperity and military security while often prioritizing their own ambitions and financial interests. Whether waging war, opposing states’ rights yet supporting slavery, or pushing for agricultural and infrastructural improvements in his native South Carolina, Poinsett consistently acted in his own self-interest. By examining the man and his actions, Schakenbach Regele reveals an America defined by opportunity and violence, freedom and slavery, and nationalism and self-interest.
 
Lindsay Schakenbach Regele is associate professor of history at Miami University and the author of Manufacturing Advantage: War, the State, and the Origins of American Industry, 1776–1848.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226829623
ISBN-10: 0226829626
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: November 27th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: American Beginnings, 1500-1900

“Scholars of US foreign policy have longed for a biography of Joel Poinsett, the diplomat, secret agent, and legislator who actively shaped US–Latin American relations for three crucial decades in the early nineteenth century. Lindsay Schakenbach Regele’s marvelous new study more than meets the task, not only revealing the extensive scope of his influence at home and abroad but also making an important argument about the evolution of early American political economy.”


— Amy S. Greenberg, The Pennsylvania State University

"A revealing if at times critical biographical study that highlights the role of economic interests in early 19th-century foreign relations."
— The Wall Street Journal