The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company

A Story of George Washington's Times

Publisher: Vintage
From historian Charles Royster--winner of the Francis Parkman, Bancroft, and Lincoln prizes--comes the history of one of eighteenth-century America's most fantastic land speculation deals: William Byrd's scheme to develop 900 square miles of swamp on the Virginia-North Carolina border and create fabulous wealth for himself and other shareholders, including George Washington.

Royster scrupulously follows the paper trail through the byways of transatlantic deal-cutting, providing a rare view of early American economic culture.  Elegantly written and impressively researched, The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company is an eye-opening account of greed, folly, and venture capitalism in the revolutionary era.

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Elizabeth Wirt was pregnant in the summer of 1803. Her husband feared for her life. Too many women died in childbirth; he had lost his first wife. To distract his mind, he began a series of lighthearted, faintly satirical sketches describing Virginia and Virginians. Though he came from Maryland, William Wirt tried to make...
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PRAISE FOR

"Here is a narrative history of scope and of abundance, a fascinating story." --The Washington Times

"Vivid. . . . plunges readers into the rough world of colonial capitalism--a world swarming with adventurers, aristocrats, fools, rogues and visionaries all wearing masks of gentility." --The News & Observer (Raleigh)

"A veritable encyclopedia of early American get-rich-quick schemes." --Men's Journal

"[Royster] is a seasoned stylist, and tells this colorful story in rich detail." --The Washington Post

"Imagine Barbarians at the Gate with lace cuffs." --Wilton Barnhardt