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Shorter Book Reviews 113 Native literatures tend pretty much without exception to derive from an ecosystemic, nonanthropocentric perspective on the world that we may at last be coming to see-as the ozone layer thins, as the polar ice melts, as the nonbiodegradable garbage mounts to the skies--as being centrally rather than marginally important to human suJ.Vival. (55) BernardSelinger Department of English University of Regina Alan Taylor. LibertyMen and GreatProprietors: TheRevolutionarySettlement on the Maine Frontier,1760-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990. xvi + 381 pp. This book has everything--heavies like Henry Knox, who sought to exercise vast but tenuous land claims traceable back to seventeenth-century proprietary grants; plucky settlers, who justified their landholdings by revolutionary patriotism and improvements in the wilderness; evangelical preachers, whose visions of Christ provided a higher law for settler resistance to proprietors' efforts to survey land and to evict settlers; "white Indians," who mobilized settler resistance into a counter-culture with a millennial leveler ideology and an appeal to identification with the Indians as an oppressed people. Though the conflict over land created a polarization between proprietors and settlers, Taylor's analysis is anything but reductionist. He carefully explains the contradiction between settlers' efforts to achieve agricultural independence and the material aspirations drawing them into market activity. He is especially successful in placing the "leading men"-often traders and mill owners--who arose from the settler culture and sanctioned its resistance, but whose ambitions for status and power led them to act as mediators between settlers and more distant authorities. There is nothing hypothetical about a culture of resistance among the settlers of mid-Maine. An appendix, "Incidents of Extralegal Violence Associated with the Land Controversies," lists over 150items like: 114 Shorter Book Reviews May 5, 1800. Greene (backcountry), Kennebec County. More than a dozen men disguised as Indians and armed with muskets obstruct Lothrop Lewis's smvey for the Pejebscot Proprietors and erase his memorandum book. (268) The most typical actions were the firing of threatening shots at night, the direct obstruction of surveys and the destruction of property belonging to the proprietors' supporters. Many of the "leading men" became Jeffersonians, and then used state politics to resolve the conflict. With critical support from the Eastern Country, Massachusetts in 1807 elected its first Jeffersonian governor, James Sullivan. Sullivan was himself a town proprietor, and had been a lawyer for a proprietary company and Henry Knox. But Sullivan was typical of prominent Jeffersonians in shrewdly cultivating an appeal as champion of the settlers. Their crucial measure for land reform was the Betterment Act of 1808. It distinguished two components of land value: that which it had "in a state of nature" (and which belonged to the proprietors) and that which derived from the settlers' improvements ("betterments"). Both proprietors and settlers could accept the distinction; the problem was the determination of their specificvalues for individual lots. The Betterment Act enabled local jurors to set these values for each lot. If a settler were ejected by a proprietor from land which had been occupied for over six years, ~hen a jury would establish the two values and present the proprietor with the option of forcing the settler to pay the natural value in order to retain the land or else purchasing the improvements in order to get possession. The Betterment Act fractured the culture of resistance by separating the poorer settlers from more prosperous ones who would make payment in order to have secure title. Along with the legal accommodation came an increased alienation from the violence and apparent disorder of the culture of resistance itself. This book even explains the importance of buried treasure among the settlers. Buried treasure stands well as a metaphor for the book, which successfully links the microcosm of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary mid-Maine with an historiographic macrocosm that includes many of the most important topics in early American history today: migration and settlement, self-sufficiency and market orientations, elite and popular connotations of classical republicanism, and the conflict between hierarchical and radical political authority. Don't miss it. Jack Crowley Department of History Dalhousie University ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 113-114
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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