The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 5: Diverse Economies Moving toward Commercial Ends  :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier, Third Edition: People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcom J. Rohrbough

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Between 1795 and 1815 the dominant feature in the economic development of the trans-Appalachian frontier was the Ohio-Missouri-Mississippi river trade axis. This broad continental water highway, connecting Pittsburgh—by way of Louisville and Cincinnati—and St. Louis with Natchez and New Orleans, was the main channel of trade and the route of immigrants.”
  • “Stretches of treeless prairie, cleared bottomland, or open woods that had supported people for centuries before Euro-Americans came to know them.”
  • “They followed the well-beaten Southern path to wealth and upward mobility: they acquired more land and more slaves farther west.”
  • “The first field of corn I planted for myself was about 10 acres I kind of scratched it over with the plow. I then fixed a little crib on the plow so that we placed our first child I furrowed out and my wife dropped the corn. Then when near noon she would take the Child and go to the home and get dinner.—While she would be getting dinner—I took the hoe and would cover the corn. We continued this way—with the child riding on the plow alternately until we finished our ten acres.”
  • “It was of no importance to the farmer, that his fields, with careful cultivation, would yield from 50 to 100 bushels of corn per acre, when a fourth part of the quantity would answer his purpose, there being no market for a surplus.”
  • “The important ingredients associated with the development of cotton cultivation on a large scale included the invention of a new machine called the cotton gin, which rapidly separated the seed from the fiber, and, over the next ten years, development of new strains of cotton better suited to the climate and more resistant to diseases.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the role the Ohio River played in the economic development of the frontier
  • In what ways did the frontier reflect a “maturing and increasingly complex economy”
  • What was the “pioneer cycle”
  • Describe the geographic evolution of the Territory of Mississippi and the Territory of Orleans and how this was related to economic circumstances
  • Describe how slave labor (or the absence of) impacted the economic development and the nature of that development in the northern and southern frontiers
  • What were the results of the Treaty of San Lorenzo (Spanish American Treaty of 1795)
  • Describe the southern cycle of substance farming to commercial agricultural enterprise
  • Compare and Contrast: the northern and southern cycles of substance farming to commercial agricultural enterprise
  • What and how did federal policies promote rapid frontier settlement
  • What political role did William Henry Harrison play in the settlement of the frontier
  • Explain and Expand: “Those who moved onto the land did so generally without regard to political boundaries.”
  • Explain and Expand: The ecological impact of the hogs brought to the southeast by Hernando De Soto
  • Explain the connection between the development of the Ohio River Valley and the port of New Orleans
  • Describe the essential and auxiliary industries that developed on the frontier
  • Describe the rise of cotton and sugar as export crops in the southeast
  • Compare and Contrast: sugar production in the southeastern frontier and sugar production in the Caribbean and old South

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading