Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

William Bruce Wheeler

Committee Members

Elaine Breslaw, Michael Lofaro, John Finger


One theme largely neglected by backcountry scholars to this point is the process of integration which allowed the interior as a region to fuse with the larger social and cultural ways of the rest of the South during the latter part of the eighteenth century. This study will examine, through a series of vignettes, this process of integration and ordering which allowed the backcountry to lose a number of its distinct characteristics and fostered the emergence of more clearly American and Southern values by early in the nineteenth century.

At a point of departure, this dissertation will rely on the ideas of independence and improvement which drove the colonization process of British North American form the seventeenth through the nineteenth century. Though the notion of independence in Colonial American has received far more examination as a political construct because of Thomas Jefferson and the rhetoric of the American Revolution, it carried important social and economic meanings as well. In societies that included dependent women, children, servants and slaves, personal independence offered European men freedom from the will of others and autonomy in both public and private affairs. Though complete independence through land and labor acquisition remained largely an ideal, the increased possibility of attaining such status in North America encouraged many to immigrate to the eastern seaboard in the seventeenth century and multitudes to push inward from the coast during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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