Tennessee Frontiers

Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2001-10-01
Publisher(s): Indiana Univ Pr
List Price: $38.00

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This important new history chronicles the formation of Tennessee from indigenous settlers to the end of the end of the frontier in 1840, signalled by the removal of the Cherokee along the "trail of tears." It begins with a brief discussion of a series of prehistoric frontiers involving millennia-long processes of adaptation by Native Americans. The rest of the book deals with Tennessee's historic period beginning with the incursion of Hernando de Soto's Spanish army in 1540. Finger relies on a two-part definition of "frontier": first, as that time in Tennessee from the early interaction of Native Americans and Euro-Americans and ending when the latter gained effective hegemony; and second, that period of Euro-American development lasting until the emergence of a market economy. Thus, the late 1830s when the Cherokees made their last land cession and the tribal majority moved westward was the final, decisive acquisition of land by white and demonstrated effective hegemony. And though from the very first, Anglo-Americans participated in a worldwide fur and deerskin trade and farmers and town dwellers were linked with market in distant cities, the same period marks the time when most farmers moved beyond subsistence production and became dependent on regional, national, or international markets.Two major themes emerge in the book: "access to opportunity," the belief of frontier people that North America offered unique opportunities for social and economic advancement; and the continuing tension between local autonomy and central authority, marked by the resistance of frontier people to the imposition of outside controls, even as they expected government to provide such assistance as acquiring land from Indians or foreign nations, providing military protection, or constructing internal improvements. The cultural interaction between and among groups of whites and Indians is another persistent theme in the book. Distinctions of class and gender separated frontier elites from "lesser" whites, and the struggle for control divided the elites themselves. Similarly, native society was riddled by factional disputes over the proper course of action regarding relations with other tribes or with white. Though the Indians "lost" in fundamental ways, they proved resilient, adopting a variety of strategies that delayed those losses and enabled them to retain, in modified form, their own identity.It is a fascinating story, well told by the author, who along the way introduces the famous names of Tennessee's frontier history: Attakullakulla, Nancy Ward, Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, and John Ross, among others. They remind us that this is the story of real people dealing with real problems and possibilities in often difficult circumstances.

Author Biography

John R. Finger is Professor of History at the University of Tennessee -- Knoxville.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Foreword xiii
Introduction xvii
Land, People, and Early Frontiers
Trade, Acculturation, and Empire: 1700-1775
The Revolutionary Frontier: 1775-1780
Expansion and Revolution: 1779-1783
Speculation, Turmoil, and Intrigue: 1780-1789
The Southwest Territory: 1790-1796
The Social Fabric
The Frontier Economy
Statehood to Nationalism: 1796-1815
The Western District: 1795-1840
Hegemony and Cherokee Removal: 1791-1840
Conclusion 315(8)
Essay on Sources 323(50)
Index 373

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