Seas of Gold, Seas of Cotton: Christophe Poulain DuBignon of Jekyll Island

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University of Georgia Press, 2002 - History - 312 pages
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This detailed biography of a man who flourished in two very different worlds opens a new doorway into the societies of prerevolutionary France and postrevolutionary Georgia. Christophe Poulain DuBignon (1739-1825) was the son of an impoverished Bréton aristocrat. Breaking social convention to engage in trade, he began his long career first as a cabin boy in the navy of the French India Company and later as a sea captain and privateer. After retiring from the sea, DuBignon lived in France as a "bourgeois noble" with income from land, moneylending, and manufacturing.

Uprooted by the French Revolution, DuBignon fled to Georgia late in 1790, settling among other refugees from France and the Caribbean. A community long overlooked by historians of the American South, this circle of planters, nobles, and bourgeois was bound together by language, a shared faith, and the émigré experience.

On his Jekyll Island slave plantation, DuBignon learned to cultivate cotton. However, he underwrote his new life through investments on both sides of the Atlantic, extending his business ties to Charleston, Liverpool, and Nantes. None of his ventures, Martha L. Keber notes, compelled DuBignon to dwell long on the inconsistencies between his entrepreneurial drive and his noble heritage. His worldview always remained aristocratic, patriarchal, and conservative.

DuBignon's passage of eighty-six years took him from a tradition-bound Europe to the entrepôts of the Indian Ocean to the plantation culture of a Georgia barrier island. Wherever he went, commerce was the constant. Based on Keber's exhaustive research in European, African, and American archives, Seas of Gold, Seas of Cotton portrays a resilient nobleman so well schooled in the principles of the marketplace that he prospered in the Old World and the New.


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Wonderful book great information. I came upon this book through research of Jekyll Islands history as it pertains to my ancestry. So the story goes that my ancestors were immigents from Haiti who are French-Haitian and escasped slaves. They were taken in by the indians with whom they inter-married. I am on a quest to track down my ancestry. The name of my ancestor's is (Maas or Mas) We have confirmation that there are French Haitian's living in Haiti by that name. I am trying to connect the dots of my my ancestors from Africa to Haiti and from Haiti to Jekyll Island ,Georgia and with the Native Americons who were living on the island. This book has given great insight into part of that history. I am now trying to aquire a list of ships that were owned by Du Bignon that carried slaves from Africa to Haiti and also if there are any surviving slave manifest. The family name on my Fathers side is ( Wheeler) on his Mothers side is (Frazier) It is not known whitch of the parents is connected to the French-Hatian ancestry.We believe it to be the Wheeler's. If anyone reads this review and you can assist me with information please send me an email to <> Thank you! I smell another great story here! 


War and Shipwreck
The Riches of Salomon
National Vertigo
Seas of Cotton
Ties That Bind
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2002)

Martha L. Keber is a professor of history at Georgia College and State University.

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