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The Evolution of the Southern Backcountry

A Case Study of Lunenburg County, Virginia, 1746-1832

By Richard R. Beeman

Publication Year: 1989

The Evolution of the Southern Backcountry is the story of an expanding frontier. Richard Beeman offers a lively and well-written account of the creation of bonds of community among the farmers who settled Lunenburg Country, far to the south and west of Virginia's center of political and economic activity.

Beeman's view of the nature of community provides an important dynamic model of the transmission of culture from older, more settled regions of Virginia to the southern frontier. He describes how the southern frontier was influenced by those staples of American historical development: opportunity, mobility, democracy, and ethnic pluralism; and he shows how the county evolved socially, culturally, and economically to become distinctly southern.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Maps

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvi

I have drawn heavily on the advice, expertise, and goodwill of many friends, students, and professional colleagues over the course of this project. Three undergraduate research assistants— Pamela James, Scott Oleson, and especially Fred Rollman—provided...

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Prologue

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pp. 3-13

If we were to travel today to the towns of Andover, Dedham, or Concord, Massachusetts, in search of the remnants of seventeenth and eighteenth-century community life, we probably could— through the clutter of gas stations, shopping malls, and fast food...

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ONE: Settling the Wilderness [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 14-41

At the beginning of the eighteenth century the Virginia Southside, extending nearly nine thousand square miles from the Fall Line of the James River to the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, remained nearly untouched by the political institutions of eastern Virginia...

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TWO: Building Communities in the Wilderness

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pp. 42-59

The contrast between the humble way of life in Lunenburg and the styles of the gentry world to the east was dramatic. In the eastern Chesapeake, those who made it to the top of the economic ladder established and reinforced their hegemony by impressive displays...

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THREE: A Southside Community in Transition

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pp. 60-96

While Lunenburg's earliest residents and its subsequent immigrants brought with them to the county a great diversity of cultural traditions, the same settlers would, if they stayed in the county long enough, increasingly devote their energies to a' common economic...

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FOUR: The Evangelical Revolt in the Backcountry

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pp. 97-119

There was considerable stir among the people in the church meetinghouses and parish vestries of the Southside in the 1760s and 1770s. As the Rev. James Craig complained, the enthusiastic, itinerant preachers "gain Proselytes every Day, & unless the Principal...

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FIVE: The Constitutional Revolt in the Backcountry

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pp. 120-139

Whatever the potential for conflict posed by the "internal disorder" inherent in the evangelical revolt, the Virginia social order managed to display remarkable cohesiveness and unity of purpose in...

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SIX: The Clash of Cultural Styles

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pp. 140-159

Given the escalation of social conflict between Anglicans and evangelicals before the Revolution, we might expect that the hardships and disruptions occasioned by the onset of war would serve to heighten those conflicts further. Indeed, in the years immediately...

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SEVEN: Toward Stability

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pp. 160-185

As French historian Fernand Braudel notes, the disruption of wars and the upheavals of religious conflicts are often only "surface disturbances, crests of foam that the tides of history carry on their strong backs." According to Braudel, those slower but deeper...

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EIGHT: The Accommodation of Cultures

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pp. 186-211

The forces of economic and demographic growth that gave most Lunenburg households an increased level of agricultural output and a slightly enhanced standard of physical comfort appear to...

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NINE: The Creation of a Southern Identity

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pp. 212-226

The forces of economic and demographic growth that gave most Lunenburg households an increased level of agricultural output and a slightly enhanced standard of physical comfort appear to...

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Epilogue

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pp. 227-230

In the process of defending themselves from Northern attacks on the slave system and justifying the way of life that system encouraged, white Lunenburgers came to acquire a sense of group solidarity...

Appendix 1 The Economic Elite of Lunenburg County, 1750–1815

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pp. 231-233

Appendix 2 Lunenburg County Court, 1770–1815

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pp. 234-236

Notes

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pp. 237-264

Index

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pp. 265-272


E-ISBN-13: 9780812200874
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812212983

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 1989