The Lizardi Brothers: A Mexican Family Business and the Expansion of New Orleans, 1825-1846

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Throughout much of the twentieth century, diplomatic and economic historians of the antebellum United States defined and dominated the fields of hemispheric relations and American capitalism, respectively. In recent years, however, cultural historians of the antebellum United States have turned their attention to the role of the U.S. South in the broader exchange of peoples, ideas, and goods. Historians using innovative literary approaches address questions of race and identity in connecting the U.S. South to Latin America and beyond, while scholars of the “new” history of capitalism aim to deepen our understanding of the business of slavery in southern economic development. These two fields at times converge on the subject of empire, as the Gulf Caribbean is ever more frequently characterized as the “American Mediterranean” by U.S. as well as Cuban historians. Indeed, no analysis of the antebellum United States is complete without integrating perspectives from the southern neighbors themselves—that is, by looking from south to north, rather than reflexively from north to south. In particular, the rapidly changing political and economic landscape of Mexico in the early nineteenth century impacted in highly significant ways the expansion of the U.S. South’s premier port, New Orleans. A Mexican family business, the Lizardi Brothers, was at the center of key financial transactions in New Orleans in the 1830s and 1840s. Through the family’s transnational business activities in the Americas and Europe, the Lizardi connected New Orleans to Texas, to Mexico and Cuba, and to the Gulf Caribbean and the Atlantic world more generally during this transformative period in the development of global capitalism.




Rice Univeristy


Houston, TX

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Journal of Southern History

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