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The Texture of Contact

European and Indian Settler Communities on the Fro

David L. Preston

Publication Year: 2009

The Texture of Contact is a landmark study of Iroquois and European communities and coexistence in eastern North America before the American Revolution. David L. Preston details the ways in which European and Iroquois settlers on the frontiers creatively adapted to each other’s presence, weaving webs of mutually beneficial social, economic, and religious relationships that sustained the peace for most of the eighteenth century.
Drawing on a wealth of previously unexamined archival research, Preston describes everyday encounters between Europeans and Indians along the frontiers of the Iroquois Confederacy in the St. Lawrence, Mohawk, Susquehanna, and Ohio valleys. Homesteads, taverns, gristmills, churches, and markets were frequent sites of intercultural exchange and negotiation. Complex diplomatic and trading relationships developed as a result of European and Iroquois settlers bartering material goods. Innovative land-sharing arrangements included the common practice of Euroamerican farmers living as tenants of the Mohawks, sometimes for decades. This study reveals that the everyday lives of Indians and Europeans were far more complex and harmonious than past histories have suggested. Preston’s nuanced comparisons between various settlements also reveal the reasons why peace endured in the Mohawk and St. Lawrence valleys while warfare erupted in the Susquehanna and Ohio valleys.
One of the most comprehensive studies of eighteenth-century Iroquois history, The Texture of Contact broadens our understanding of eastern North America’s frontiers and the key role that the Iroquois played in shaping that world.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: The Iroquoians and Their World

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vi-vii

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pp. ix-x

My gratitude and respect for the many teachers, colleagues, and friends who have shaped my work are ineffable. These terse acknowledgments cannot begin to do them all justice. It is impossible for me to imagine a more perfect mentor than James Axtell. His example of a scholar’s life has been inspirational. ...

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Introduction: Under the Tree of Peace

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pp. 1-22

In 1734 a unique map came before the eyes of New York’s royal governor, Col. William Cosby. Mohawk Iroquois leaders had sent a petition to the governor complaining about people encroaching on their lands southwest of Albany near the headwaters of Schoharie Creek, a tributary of the Mohawk River ...

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1. The Tree of Peace Planted: Iroquois and French-Canadian Communities in the St. Lawrence Valley

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pp. 23-60

A tree was planted in Montreal in 1701, and a peace grew from its roots that altered the history and character of colonial America and its peoples. From July 25 to August 4, 1701, one of the largest and most important treaties between Indians and Europeans was negotiated. By the waters of the St. Lawrence, Indians and French ...

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2. Iroquois Communities in the Eighteenth-Century Mohawk Valley: Schoharie, Tiononderoge, and Canajoharie

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pp. 61-115

“Que! Que! Que!” The sound of Mohawk Indians’ plaintive death cries shattered the silence of a wintry January night in 1745. Six Mohawks had just returned from the nearby Dutch town of Schenectady to deliver terrible news to the villagers in the middle of the night. They had just been among “Our Friends among the White People” ...

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3. Dispossessing the Indians: Proprietors, Squatters, and Natives in the Susquehanna Valley

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pp. 116-146

On November 1, 1755, a war party of ninety Delawares, Mingoes, and Shawnees attacked the European settlements in an area of southcentral Pennsylvania called the Great Cove Valley (so named because of the steep mountain ridgelines that hemmed in the bottomlands below). Squatters had been seeking safe harbor ...

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4. “The Storm Which Had Been So Long Gathering”: Pennsylvanians and Indians at War

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pp. 147-177

Marie Le Roy and Barbara Leininger and their families were among the thousands of Europeans who immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century. The Leiningers, from the city of Reutlingen in the Rhine-Neckar region, arrived in the colony in 1748; the Swiss Le Roy family emigrated in 1752. ...

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5. “Our Neighbourhood with the Settlers”: Iroquois and German Communities in the Seven Years’ War

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pp. 178-215

In late November 1757 nearly two hundred Mississaugas and Canadian Iroquois and around sixty-five French marines and militia embarked on an expedition against New York. Their target was a prosperous settlement called German Flatts in the upper Mohawk Valley. Settled by Oneidas for centuries and the Palatines ...

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6. Imperial Crisis in the Ohio Valley: Indian, Colonial American, and British Military Communities

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pp. 216-264

Native Americans knew it as Mehmonawangehelak, referring to the rich soil along its steep banks that occasionally broke off and fell into the river.1 European colonists followed suit with “Monongahela.” Perhaps no other spot of rich Ohio Country soil was more notorious and contested in the 1760s than the Monongahela Valley ...

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Epilogue: The Tree of Peace Uprooted

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pp. 265-294

In early December 1773 a somber Sir William Johnson sent urgent letters to the governor of New York, William Tryon, and to Gen. Frederick Haldimand in New York City. He alerted the government to intercept a German farmer named George Klock, “a fellow of notorious bad Character who has long by various Artifices ...


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pp. 295-298


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pp. 299-340


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pp. 341-376


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pp. 377-395

E-ISBN-13: 9780803225497
E-ISBN-10: 0803225490

Illustrations: 14 photos, 3 maps, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: The Iroquoians and Their World