Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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p. ix

List of Maps

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p. xi

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Foreword

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pp. xiii-xvi

For most Americans “the West” refers to the western half of the nation. From the Great Plains across the Rockies and the intermontane plateaus to the Pacific Ocean, “the AmericanWest” conjures up a flood of popular images: trappers, cowboys, miners, and homesteading families; the Marlboro man and countrywestern ...

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Introduction

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pp. xvii-xxiii

More than a hundred years ago Frederick Jackson Turner presented a famous paper in which he contended that the frontier had provided the single most important catalyst for American development. He argued that a series of frontier zones, beginning with English settlement on the Atlantic coast, had carried whites ...

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1 Land, People, and Early Frontiers

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pp. 1-22

People and land interact in many ways, producing fundamental changes in each. When writing of a region, then, especially of its frontier stages, it is essential to explore those myriad interactions and their consequences. In the case of Tennessee, that task is difficult because the state’s 42,244 square miles encompass disparate geographic features which have attracted different peoples ...

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2 Trade, Acculturation, and Empire: 1700–1775

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pp. 23-52

For Tennessee Indians the 150 years following de Soto’s expedition were fraught with unsettling portents. Demographic upheavals and the creation of new polities brought uncertainty and a hint of the greater transformations that were soon to occur. Sheltered by distance from the new European outposts on the ...

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3 The Revolutionary Frontier: 1775–1780

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pp. 53-74

By 1775 the white threat to the Cherokee land base in upper East Tennessee was apparent. An estimated two thousand white settlers lived there, about three-fourths having arrived from the Great Valley of Virginia and the rest by way of the difficult mountain route from North Carolina. The earliest came on ...

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4 Expansion Amid Revolution: 1779–1783

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pp. 75-98

The periodic lulls in backcountry warfare allowed settlers to consolidate their treaty gains and prepare for renewed expansion beyond the existing frontier. Especially alluring were the lands along the Cumberland River in Middle Tennessee, nearly two hundred miles west of the Holston and Watauga settlements. Unlike the larger Tennessee River, which roughly parallels it to the ...

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5 Speculation, Turmoil, and Intrigue: 1780–1789

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pp. 99-124

Tennessee’s frontier was a society shaped by aspiring elites, covetous men of vast ambition who saw the acquisition of land as the means of economic and social advancement. Virtually every leader of pre-revolutionary society recognized that supporting the patriot cause was the only way of making good his land claims in the face of growing British opposition. The cause of ...

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6 The Southwest Territory: 1790–1796

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pp. 125-151

William Blount was a member of the 1787 constitutional convention in Philadelphia, and he hoped North Carolina would share his enthusiasm for the finished document. Once again his ideology and business considerations blurred: a preference for stronger central authority coincided with a desire for North Carolina’s cession of Tennessee to the new government and the expected ...

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7 The Social Fabric

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pp. 152-178

Prior to the Revolution, Tennessee was a meeting place of whites and Indians who generally interacted peaceably as long as there was a rough balance of power. Whites were basically transients in an Indian landscape—traders, soldiers, a few long hunters, and occasional odd-ball visionaries such as Alexander ...

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8 The Frontier Economy

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pp. 179-201

During its earliest frontier period Tennessee was part of an international economy centered on a thriving trade in furs and deerskins. With the arrival of the first white settlers, the peltry trade became less important, and land speculation on a massive scale came to characterize the economy. Restless men of wealth ...

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9 Statehood to Nationalism: 1796–1815

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pp. 202-238

John Sevier was the most noteworthy transitional figure in Tennessee’s early history, occupying a position of authority from the Revolution to statehood and then holding various political offices until his death in 1815. He served six terms as governor, one as state legislator, and was elected three times to the U.S. House of Representatives. His career after 1796 echoes many ...

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10 The Western District: 1795–1840

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pp. 239-274

By 1815 Middle and East Tennessee were at different stages of frontier evolution. In the Cumberland Basin a slave-based commercial agriculture thrived, and Nashville, bustling and confident, was the most important town between Lexington and Natchez. The only recent Indian fighting had been on the Creek ...

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11 Hegemony and Cherokee Removal: 1791–1840

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pp. 275-314

For white Tennesseans, the Cherokee presence was always a visible reminder of their frontier heritage, of dreams unfulfilled. That tribe had once claimed more than half of the entire state, but through a series of cessions retained only the southeastern corner by the end of 1806. Whites coveted that region as well, but for more than a decade they were unable to make any legal ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 315-322

History is never as sharply defined or divided as historians might like, and so it is when we discuss the end of the Tennessee frontier. Despite a common misconception to the contrary, removal of the Cherokees in 1838 did not mean that all Indians left. Approximately 1,500 individuals of significant degrees of Cherokee blood continued to live in the nooks and crannies of ...

Essay on Sources

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pp. 323-371

Index

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pp. 373-382