The Fifteenth Annual Baron Lecture by Alan Taylor
When the book William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic appeared in 1995, it deftly combined social history, biography, and literary analysis to explore the business and political career of James Fenimore Cooper’s father and the development of the western-New York frontier region of Otsego County. William Cooper’s Town won the Bancroft and the Pulitzer Prizes for history. The book charts the rise and fall of the elder Cooper’s financial and political fortunes and examines how these impacted the literary ambitions and career of his son. It also describes the shifting political landscape as the nascent nation developed and then redefined ideals of republican gentility and democratic power. In this talk, Alan Taylor will examine the genesis of this book and its impact on scholarship and society since it was first published.