Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850
University of North Carolina Press, 2015
Available from: UNC Press | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

By the late 1810s, a global revolution in cotton had remade the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing wealth and waves of Americans to the Gulf Coast while also devastating the lives and villages of Mexicans in Texas. In response, Mexico threw open its northern territories to American farmers in hopes that cotton could bring prosperity to the region. Thousands of Anglo-Americans poured into Texas, but their insistence that slavery accompany them sparked pitched battles across Mexico. An extraordinary alliance of Anglos and Mexicans in Texas came together to defend slavery against abolitionists in the Mexican government, beginning a series of fights that culminated in the Texas Revolution. In the aftermath, Anglo-Americans rebuilt the Texas borderlands into the most unlikely creation: the first fully committed slaveholders’ republic in North America.

Seeds of Empire tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States, and how the rise and spectacular collapse of the Republic of Texas as a nation built on cotton and slavery proved to be a blueprint for the Confederacy of the 1860s.


  • David J. Weber-Clements Center Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America, Western History Association.
  • William M. LeoGrande Prize for Best Book on U.S.-Latin American relations, Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, American University.
  • Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book, Texas Institute of Letters.
  • Honorable Mention, Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians.
  • Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for Best Book on Texas History, Texas State Historical Association.
  • Kate Broocks Bates Award for Historical Research, Texas State Historical Association.
  • Ottis G. Lock Prize for Best Book of the Year, East Texas Historical Association.
  • Summerfield G. Roberts Award, Sons of the Republic of Texas.
  • Honorable Mention, Deep South Book Prize, Summersell Center for the Study of the South, University of Alabama.
  • Foster Memorial Award for Literature, Brazoria County Historical Museum.
  • Best Book Award, Texas Old Missions and Forts Restoration Association.
  • Publication Award, San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation.


  • “The most nuanced and authoritative rewriting of Texas’s origin myth to date.” —Texas Monthly
  • “Well written, expertly researched, and interpretatively ambitious, Seeds of Empire immediately moves to the front ranks of monographs examining the long Civil War era on both sides of the Rio Grande.” — Journal of the Civil War Era
  • “Torget ultimately has crafted a work to which scholars of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands should aspire — one that effectively balances U.S. and Mexican sources and addresses vital historical issues resonating from national and imperial spaces.” Journal of American History
  • “Written in a clear, engaging style, and supported by prodigious research in both Mexican and U.S. archives, Seeds of Empire offers a complete reconfiguration of this period of Texas history.  It will undoubtedly serve as the standard work on the topic.” —American Historical Review
  • “Incisive and accessible . . . bridges borderlands history with that of the Atlantic World, crafting a multifaceted view of the rise of ‘King Cotton’ across borders and oceans.” Choice
  • “Deeply researched and artfully written . . . Seeds of Empire brings new insight and nuance to the story of early Texas.” — Dallas Morning News
  • “This is a well-argued, brisk survey of the formative decades of modern Texas that challenges us to reconsider why it is that the legacy of slavery continues to haunt our civic and cultural life, both in Texas and throughout the nation.” —Western Historical Quarterly
  • “Insightful volume [that] provides a new analysis focused on the development of cotton farming.” Southwestern Historical Quarterly
  • “Andrew Torget’s wonderful new book wrenches the history of Texas independence out of the grip of nationalists and exceptionalists. He shows that the Texas Republic was created by–and dissolved by–the massive force of the cotton revolution and slavery expansion that drove the rise of Western economic modernity. And he shows how the same forces tragically disrupted and destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of African Americans forced to move to the Cotton South’s first independent slaveholding state.” –-Edward E. Baptist, author of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism
  • Seeds of Empire is a masterfully researched, elegantly written, and intellectually sophisticated study of the forces that shaped the U.S.-Mexican borderlands during the first half of the nineteenth century.” —Gregg Cantrell, author of Stephen F. Austin: Empresario of Texas
  • “In this engrossing book, Andrew J. Torget moves beyond national and state narratives to place cotton at the heart of the breathtaking transformation of the Gulf of Mexico region during the first half of the nineteenth century. His greatest accomplishment is to put in conversation processes and events that are frequently discussed in separate literatures. Seeds of Empire is a major work of reinterpretation.”
    –Andrés Reséndez, author of Changing National Identities at the Frontier: Texas and New Mexico, 1800-1850