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

 

The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 4: The Reach Of Government And The Authority Of Law Spread Across The Western Country (Part 2) :: The Trans-Appalachian Frontier By Malcolm J. Rohrbough

This part begins with Louisiana and the Orleans territory

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Governor Claiborne thought the people of Louisiana wealthy and generally honest but “uninformed, indolent, luxurious—in a word, illy fitted to be useful citizens of the Republic.””
  • “I fear the trial by Jury, the introduction of oral testimony, the Admission of Attorneys &c will illy comport with the former habits of the People, and that the Court, (as I have been) will be accused by the designing few, of making injurious innovations on the Spanish Law.”
  • “Their choice in form and details notably restricted expressions of the popular will. If the transfer to the United States had introduced a measure of universal white male suffrage, the expressed use of this right under the new constitution would be limited.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the beginning evolution of the general area of the Louisiana and Orleans territory prior to the Louisiana Purchase
  • In what ways was Louisiana the “exception” to territorial development?
  • What were the most significant aspects of the Louisiana Purchase (other than simply size)
  • Who was William Charles Cole Claiborne and what was his significance to territorial development in the old Southwest
  • What was the Territory of Orleans? What was the territory of Louisiana? How did they evolve prior to statehood?
  • How were the District of Arkansas and the Territory of North Louisiana formed?
  • How was the Territory of Arkansaw (later Arkansas Territory) established?
  • What misunderstanding did American officials persist with in regards to the Louisiana Territory?
  • Explain and Expand: “Remonstrance of the People of Louisiana against the Political System Adopted by Congress for Them.”
  • Explain and Expand: “Governor Claiborne attempted both to carry out his instructions from Washington and, at the same time, to placate the residents of Louisiana.”
  • React and Respond: “Indians were largely ignored except where they made trouble.”
  • In what ways did slavery and the New Orleans slave trade impact the organization of Lousiana
  • Compare and Contrast: the county and township structure and the duties apportioned to various units of government between Louisiana and the territories created under the Northwest Ordinance
  • What was the “police jury”?
  • Explain and Expand: “A basic concern of all parishes, all police juries, and the government of the territory itself was control of the slave population.”
  • Affirm or Refute: “This twenty years of growth in the West was remarkable for national expansion through diplomacy” from a non-European perspective
  • Who was William Henry Harrison and how did he impact relations between the United States and Native Americans
  • Explain and Expand: the relationship between the institution of slavery and William Henry Harrison
  • Explain and Expand: “The War of 1812, brought on in part by the perceived connection between Indian depredations and British advisors moving south from Canada, intersected with the attractive opportunity to seize Canada while the British were occupied in a life and death struggle against Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe.”

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Chapter 4: The Reach of Government and the Authority of Law Spread across the Western Country (Part 1) :: The Trans-Appalachian Frontier by Malcolm J. Rohrbough

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Government now often preceded settlement, and it helped to prepare for and to accelerate the arrival of settlers.”
  • “Negotiations with Indian groups were always directed toward smoothing the way for further Anglo-American occupation of Indian lands”
  • “Murder & Manslaughter are now the common topicks of the day.”
  • “stones, lime, brick, timber, mechanical work, labor, or hauling, or any kind of country produce which can or may be exchanged for cash.”
  • “From the beginning of his governorship, Sargent moved to tighten control over the slave population. … Under Sargent’s Code and other legal codes on the trans-Appalachian frontier, the privileges and responsibilities of the common law applied solely to the white population.”
  • “In spite of the formal titles, the courts were often informal. At the local level, where justice courts were the basic instruments of law, the judge (or justice) was generally a man without formal legal training but, it was hoped, an individual of much common sense and strong integrity.”
  • “At the first session of the Dearborn County (Indiana) Court a recalcitrant witness, tired of being admonished to speak to the subject, seized a board and swung at the judge’s head. The judge warded off the blow with his arm, which was broken by the act. All present, especially the judge, agreed that the act was in contempt of court. The judge ordered the witness jailed, but there was no jail, so the guilty party was bound hand and foot and “laid along the ground and a section of worm fence was built up over him, the lower rail just touching his neck.” Here he was left for several hours to ponder his intemperate action.”
  • “Within the basic framework of the territorial system, the most dramatic exceptions to every rule of government and law lay within Louisiana.”

Thought Questions

  • Explain and Expand: “Between the diplomatic landmarks of 1794–95 and the close of the war in 1815, affairs in the western country at every level bore the imprint of government. Its overwhelming influence seemed to contradict the very premise of the West: that is to say, that by moving to the West, settler families could find rich resources free of outside influence.”
  • What was the significance of the Land Ordinance of 1795 and the Northwest Ordinance?
  • Compare and Contrast: The motivations and goals of territorial government in the Northwest and Southwest
  • Describe the State of Franklin (Frankland[sic])
  • React and Respond: “This act was both unexpected and, in the end, endlessly far-reaching in its implications.”
  • What were some of the questions raised about the role and institutions of government in/by the territories?
  • In what ways did the territories expose new questions about the institutions and role of government?
  • Explain and Expand: “The arriving representatives of the American national government trod lightly in the new institutional setting, while, at the same time, they remained firm about their intention of making Louisiana “American” in every sense of the word.”
  • Describe the evolution of the Creole community of Louisiana
  • Explain and Expand: “What kinds of compromises must and could be made among the dominant Anglo-Americans and the long-established Creoles who thought American freedom and democracy would preserve the status quo in their lives?”
  • Explain and Expand: “And how could this mix be grafted onto the context of continuous spread of government and law across the frontier?”
  • Describe the evolution of the territory of Louisiana and the territory of Orleans
  • What were the different levels of territorial government and how did each impact individual settlers and individual settlements?
  • Describe the structure and function of the different levels within the territorial court system
  • Explain and Expand: “As the War of 1812 approached, relations with the Indians were more frequently of a military nature.”
  • Explain and Expand: “As in the earlier period, the organized militia continued to give form to the largely unorganized and widely scattered communities.”
  • What was the structure and function of militias within the territories?
  • Explain and Expand: “Finally, frontier violence took the form of brutality of master toward slave, and, on a larger level, the need to use the institutions and authority of government to control a growing slave population.”
  • Explain and Expand: “The most significant government for the largest number of people on the trans-Appalachian frontier was at the county level.”
  • Describe the typical income and expenditures of the territorial county
  • Explain and Expand: “He first adopted the English common law for the Mississippi Territory. Sir William Blackstone and Lord Mansfield became the authorities cited by lawyers before the bar. The territorial judges drew their inspiration—insofar as their decisions could be called inspired—from the same sources. Local circumstances forced the modification and simplification of some English forms, but the courts accepted the general principles of the applicability of the common law, along with the English principle of equity.”
  • Who was Winthrop Sargent and what was “Sargent’s Code”?
  • What role did slave control and repression play in the development of territorial laws and codes?
  • What was the “Republic of West Florida”?

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

The American Early Republic and Frontier Era History

Part 2: The Widening Frontier :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier, People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough

Note: These questions will be explored in this entire section, not just this introduction.

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The government’s impact on families, communities, and businesses west of the mountains had far exceeded issues of relations with Indian peoples, significant as those were.”
  • “This portion of the story opens on a world of a vast open and varied landscape; it closes on the increasing presence on the land of numbers of small settlements that represented the harbingers of American presence.”
  • “Yet over the next decade, the influence of the federal government intruded into a wide range of areas that no one (least of all the Jeffersonians) could have anticipated at the turn of the century.”
  • “As the influence of the federal government moved well beyond the issues of the Northwest and Land Ordinances, a curious contradiction emerged.”

Thought Questions

  • In what ways did the trans-Appalachian frontier “widen” in the period from 1795 to 1815?
  • Compare and Contrast: Northern population growth and Southern population growth in the trans-Appalachian frontier in this period
  • What was the defining characteristic(s) that separated northern and southern trans-Appalachia?
  • Describe the trans-Appalachian river system and the role it played in migration and American development
  • Affirm or Refute: “This portion of the story opens on a world of a vast open and varied landscape; it closes on the increasing presence on the land of numbers of small settlements that represented the harbingers of American presence.”
  • Describe the process of expanding federal powers in the territories
  • What influenced the Federal government when deciding to be either a “mediator” or an “advocate” in state / territory – tribal relationships?
  • Describe the provisions, impact and unintended consequences of the Northwest Ordinance, The Southwest Ordinance and the Land Ordinance of 1784 and 1785

The Indiana Terrtory

  • In what ways did international affairs impact trans-Appalachian development?
  • Who was General Anthony Wayne? Describe the Northwest Indian War and the significance of the Battle of Fallen Timbers
  • Who was John Jay? Describe the Jay Treaty and the role he played in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian frontier
  • Who was Thomas Pinkney? Describe the Pinckney’s Treaty / Treaty of San Lorenzo and the role Pinkney played in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian frontier
  • Explain and Expand: “This confrontation over land began with words and by the end of the decade had moved to violence.”
  • Compare and Contrast: The Native American tribes of the Northwest and Southwest territories
  • Who was William Henry Harrison?
  • Describe the evolution of the area of the Indiana Territory from 1795-1815
  • Describe the Haitian Revolution?
  • In what ways did the Haitian Revolution impact the trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • How did the immediate presence of slavery impact the characteristics of southern trans-Appalachia?
  • How did the lack of an immediate presence of slavery impact the characteristics of northern trans-Appalachia?
  • What were the advances in transportation and communication that continued to fuel trans-Appalachian migration?

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Further Reading

 

American Frontier

The Trans-Appalachian Frontier :: Chapter 3: Security and Stability in the Territory Northwest of the Ohio

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “neither did he care from whom they came, for he was determined to hold his possession.” The reporting officer continued, “And if I should destroy his house he would build six more in the course of a week.”
  • “When thus far removed from the country, that gave us birth, from our friends and from the influence of the government of any state,” they declared, “we esteem it one of the greatest blessings, that we can have civil government established among us, which is the only foundation for the enjoyment of life, of liberty and of property.”

Thought Questions

  • What was the region known as “The Ohio Country”? What were the significant geographic features of this region?
  • Compare and Contrast the European search for security and stability in the Ohio Country with the process in Kentucky and Tennessee
  • Describe the impact European settlement had on Native Americans in the Ohio Country
  • Why was settlement slowed in the Ohio Country compared with Kentucky and Tennessee?
  • Who were the Native Americans that inhabited the Ohio Country around 1790?
  • Define the regions known commonly as “The Old Northwest” and “The Old Southwest”
  • Who was Arthur St. Clair and what were his functions over time in the Ohio Country?
  • What were the “two pressing problems” Arthur St. Clair needed to address?
  • What role did the French play in the American occupation of the Ohio Country and the Southwest?
  • How did the Northwest Ordinance facilitate settlement in the Ohio Country?
  • How did the Northwest Ordinance facilitate the establishment of government in the Ohio Country?
  • Describe the evolution of government (executive, judicial and legislative) in the Ohio country
  • How did British-American relations impact American – Native American relations?
  • What was the Ohio Company? Compare and Contrast the Ohio Country with the early colonial settlements such as Jamestown and Maryland
  • Compare and Contrast the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 with the Southwest Ordinance of 1790. How did they address the issue of slavery in the territories? How did they address the issue of Native Americans in the territories?
  • Describe the process of agricultural and commercial development in the Ohio Country? What role did Native Americans, African Slaves and French colonials play in this development?

Primary Sources

Articles and Resources

Collections

Further Reading

Week 3 :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier: People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough Chapter 2: The Search for Stability

 

Note: Chapter 2: Common Roads in the volume: The Transportation Revolution by George R. Taylor compliments this chapter well 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “The two conditions were not mutually exclusive but often overlapped, or the second followed so closely on the first as to be indistinguishable from it.”
  • “Tobacco, Hemp, Wheat, beef, Pork, Hempseed, Flax, Hog’s Lard, Peltry, Bees wax, Hog’s Bristles, or Cash— They will contract (on generous terms) for the ensuing crop of Hemp. They want immediately to employ a number of men that understands Boat building. Also two good Coopers that understands either right work or flour barrels, and great wages will be given to a Miller who can come well recommended.” 

Thought Questions

  • Compare and Contrast the goals and methods of settlers in the “search for stability” with the settlers during the “struggle for security” 
  • What was the “pioneering cycle”?
  • Describe the process by which settlers created government, social and economic institutions in the early trans-Appalachian frontier to establish stability?
  • Describe the roles members of the settler family assumed on the early trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • Compare and Contrast the role family members played in trans-Appalachia with those of the preceding generation in eastern Appalachia 
  • Describe the living environment created by the Mississippi-Ohio-Cumberland-Kentucky river system? How did Native Americans live in this environment? How did settlers live in this environment?
  • Compare and Contrast the living circumstances of Native Americans and trans-Appalachian settlers
  • How did the transition from survival / subsistence farming to cash farming in the trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • Describe the economic circumstances and norms in early trans-Appalachia 
  • What impact did environmental changes and the replacement of wild animals by domestic animals impact Native Americans?
  • Where is the area known as “The Kentucky Bluegrass and the Cumberland Basin”?
  • What circumstances led to the development of plantations south of the Ohio river and farms north of the Ohio river? 
  • How did the trans Appalachian frontier reflect changes in the 1780s in the broader American society?

Further Reading

Week 2 :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier: People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough  Chapter 1: The Struggle for Security

 

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “April satd first [1775] this morning there is ice at our camp half inch thick we Start Early & travel this Day along a verey Bad hilley way cross one creek whear the horses almost got Mired Some fell in & all wet their loads we cross Clinch River & travell till late in the Night & camp on cove creek…. tuesday 11th this is a very loury morning & like for Rain But we all agree to Start Early we Cross Cumberland River & travel Down it about 10 miles through Some turrabel Cainbrakes as we went down abrams mair Ran into the River with Her load & Swam over he followd her & got on her & made her Swim Back agin it is a very Raney Eavening we take up camp near Richland Creek they Kill a Beef Mr Drake Bakes Bread with out Washing his hands we Keep Sentry this Night for fear of the indians.”
  • “began to discover the pleasing and rapturous appearance of the plains of Kentucky.” So wrote Felix Walker, another 1775 immigrant. Walker wrote of “a sight so delightful to our view and grateful to our feelings, almost inclined us, in imitation of Columbus, in transport to kiss the soil of Kentucky, as he hailed and saluted the sand on his first setting his foot on the shores of America.” 
  • “Regimental musters twice yearly and company musters quarterly were a center of political activity. The law specified that members of militia companies should elect their own officers, and many who had failed to meet the property qualifications for suffrage in one of the older colonies (later states) were given their first opportunity to cast a ballot or run for office. In Kentucky, early militia companies became designated units of political representation. As an example, each militia company elected one delegate to the Danville Convention of 1784. Militia activities also had a social dimension, for musters were the largest gathering of people on the transAppalachian frontiers until the great religious revivals at the turn of the century. They often coincided with court day, and after drills men would gather in small groups to play at politics, swap horses, engage in rough and tumble, debate the leading questions of the day (the price of land, crops, and slaves), or simply exchange news.”
  • “This limitation meant that Indian raiding parties could retire north of the Ohio River without risk of pursuit. This issue was one of several driving the Kentucky settlements toward independence from Virginia. In the face of these institutional and financial restrictions, private military organizations in the form of local volunteer units appeared to play a shadowy role in the early years of the transAppalachian settlements. Their establishment arose from the militia’s apparent inability to cope with the wideranging nature of Indian warfare. Confronted by sudden raids, the militia often seemed slow and clumsy in response. Private military groups, however, operated spontaneously and without the restraints of the militia or the restrictions imposed by Virginia. In their independence from higher authority and their singleminded determination for vengeance, they were highly motivated and fought well. ” 

Thought Questions

  • How did the early settlers of Kentucky and Tennessee define security?
  • In what ways did the early settlers of Kentucky and Tennessee try to create security? 
  • Describe the major river systems, mountain ranges and regions of Kentucky and its surrounding area
  • How does the Ohio River form a political boundary for Kentucky and an economic highway and nexus for the wider region and sections?
  • What is the Cumberland Gap?
  • How are the Ohio, Kentucky, Cumberland, Watuga and Tennessee Rivers connected into a river transportation network?
  • How did the river network impact the course of settlement in Kentucky and Tennessee?
  • Describe the political geography of the “Territory South of the River Ohio” or the Southwest Territory?
  • Describe the variety of experiences Native Americans faced when confronted with colonial settlers moving into the Kentucky / Tennessee area? 
  • How did the fur trade impact the colonial settlement of the Kentucky / Tennessee region?
  • Describe the natural resources of the trans-Appalachian region that made the area a draw to settlement
  • How did American pressure from the East and Native American pressure from the North impact the Native Americans of Kentucky and Tennessee?
  • What were the “common interests” and circumstances that created connections between American settlers and Native Americans in the trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • Describe the relationship between the “Mountain Men” and land speculators
  • What was the Transylvania Colony?
  • What area in the trans-Appalachian region is known as the “Blue Grass Region” and what are its characteristics?
  • Describe the establishment of the Kentucky territory and how it impacted the Transylvania Colony?
  • Describe the two stages of the occupation of western North Carolina
  • Compare and Contrast the settlement of the Kentucky territory with the settlement of the Tennessee region and the relationship between the two
  • What were the Watauga-Holston settlements?
  • Describe the significance of John Sevier of Tennessee
  • Describe the transition from a fur trading stage of exploration to the farming stage of settlement in Kentucky and Tennessee
  • Compare and Contrast the settlement environment of Kentucky and Tennessee 
  • Describe the “pioneering cycle” 
  • Who was John Breckenridge and how would his family become significant in the history of Kentucky? 

Articles and References

Further Reading

 

Week 1 :: Trans-Appalachian Frontier, People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough – Introduction: The Trans Appalachian Frontier

Thought Questions

  • What is the geographic area of the Trans-Appalachian frontier?
  • Why is the first Trans-Appalachian frontier significant?
  • What were some of the obstacles in the way of American trans Appalachian immigration?
  • What are some of the topics around trans Appalachian immigration the author sets out to explore?
  • What are some of the characteristics of the immigration cycle the author mentions?
  • How does the author demonstrate continuity through generations of immigrants?
  • How does the author demonstrate evolution through generations of immigrants?
  • In what ways does the author demonstrate the significance of gender on the trans Appalachian frontier?
  • In what ways does the author demonstrate how societies and institutions compared and contrasted on the trans Appalachian frontier?