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Kentucke's Frontiers

Craig Thompson Friend

Publication Year: 2010

American culture has long celebrated the heroism framed by Kentucky's frontier wars. Spanning the period from the 1720s when Ohio River valley Indians returned to their homeland to the American defeat of the British and their Indian allies in the War of 1812, Kentucke's Frontiers examines the political, military, religious, and public memory narratives of early Kentucky. Craig Thompson Friend explains how frontier terror framed that heroism, undermining the egalitarian promise of Kentucke and transforming a trans-Appalachian region into an Old South state. From county courts and the state legislature to church tribunals and village stores, patriarchy triumphed over racial and gendered equality, creating political and economic opportunity for white men by denying it for all others. Even in remembering their frontier past, Kentuckians abandoned the egalitarianism of frontier life and elevated white males to privileged places in Kentucky history and memory.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xv

For most Americans, the phrase “the American West” conjures up the western half of the nation. From the Great Plains across came a flood of popular images, from trappers, cowboys, miners, and homesteading families to the “Marlboro Man” and country-western music. This has been “the West” since the California Gold ...

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pp. xvii-xxiv

Since 1784, when John Filson published The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucke, trans-Appalachian promoters and historians alike have celebrated the heroic way of being American. White men who encroached upon and settled Kentucke became (and have remained) cultural heroes imbued with greater character than many actually enjoyed. ...

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1. The Indians’ Frontiers

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pp. 1-31

Autumn ushers gray skies into the Ohio River valley. In the mid-eighteenth century, the shift in weather inspired regional peoples to prepare for the cold days ahead by completing the harvests, gathering the last of the berries and firewood, and organizing hunting parties that characterized winter life among many Native Americans. European traders and the few other whites living among the Indians similarly stocked up on supplies ...

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2. Colonial Kentucke

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pp. 32-62

In the winter of 1760, Jonathan Swift, a veteran of Braddock’s doomed campaign into western Pennsylvania, led a caravan of packhorses and entrepreneurs into the Big Sandy region. They originally set out northwestward from Alexandria, Virginia, to Fort Pitt and then descended the Ohio River to the Kanawha River, crossing into the mountains until they came upon the Big Sandy River. Their destination was several “silver mines” that ...

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3. Revolutions

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pp. 63-98

As the Boonesborough convention met and Henderson consolidated as much power as he could, Lord Dunmore faced the final days of his governorship. In May 1775, the Virginia Convention openly expressed sympathy for the rebellion that had erupted in Massachusetts. In June, George Washington accepted a post as military commander of a new continental rebel army. ...

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4. Peopling Kentucke

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pp. 99-133

Below Kentucke’s topsoils lay fissures and fault lines, hidden scars of the earth’s primordial continental collisions. From the Point, the small jut of land pushing into the Ohio River where George Rogers Clark and John Gabriel Jones had debarked as they fled from the Shawnees, a minor fault line stretches southward across the region. Over millennia, as the two plates met and pushed ...

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5. Seeking Security and Stability

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pp. 134-171

In May 1785, many of Kentucke’s self-selected leadership followed up their November 1784 gathering that had dissuaded Benjamin Logan from invading the Chickamauga towns with a meeting in Danville to discuss their options when addressing the Indian threat. The conversation turned to grievances against Virginia and concluded with a petition for separation and a ...

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6. From Kentucke to Kentucky

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pp. 172-210

In 1789, George Nicholas complained to James Madison about “the management of Indian affairs” in the West. Kentuckians had lost a voice in dealing with Indians, replaced by “persons, living on, and interested in the welfare of, the other side of the Ohio . . . men who have a contrary one [interest] to pursue and who have already given sufficient proofs that they will follow their own interests when they clash with our’s.” Nicholas was particularly ...

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7. An Old South Frontier

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pp. 211-253

In late December 1798, a “war party” moved along the Wilderness Road, murdering a peddler, two immigrating Marylanders, and a Virginia gentleman. The latter’s body was so mutilated that he was beyond recognition, requiring a local tavern owner to identify the clothing of the young man who had boarded with him the previous night. Within a week, a Lincoln County ...

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8. Remembering

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pp. 254-288

In mid-October 1824, a Choctaw delegation en route to Washington, D.C., stopped in Maysville to dine at Langhorne’s Inn. Among them was an eighty-year-old chief, Puckshunubbe, a veteran of the Indian resistance against American settlement between the 1760s and 1790s. As he leaned forward to look down ...

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pp. 289-294

Regardless of what one might think of Frederick Jackson Turner’s “frontier thesis,” there is an inherent truth in Turner’s placement of the frontier at the center of American identity development. The frontier narrative is a foundational drama on which American society is constructed. Kentucke’s frontiers were among the first national frontiers. ...

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Citations and Essays on Sources

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pp. 295-357

The essays that follow do not offer comprehensive treatment of all the books and articles relevant to the history of the Kentucke frontiers and the eras in which they developed. I have concentrated on citing important works that framed this study. In the interest of avoiding repetition, only occasionally did I cite a work more than once, trying to place it where it specifically influenced this narrative. ...


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pp. 359-369

E-ISBN-13: 9780253004765
E-ISBN-10: 0253004764
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253355195

Page Count: 400
Illustrations: 13 b&w illus., 7 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier