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Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement [Paperback]

by David Hackett Fischer, James C. Kelly
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 10, 2000 0813917743 978-0813917740

Bound Away offers a new understanding of the westward movement. After the Turner thesis which celebrated the frontier as the source of American freedom and democracy, and the iconoclasm of the new western historians who dismissed the idea of the frontier as merely a mask for conquest and exploitation, David Hackett Fischer and James C. Kelly take a third approach to the subject. They share with Turner the idea of the westward movement as a creative process of high importance in American history, but they understand it in a different way.

Where Turner studied the westward movement in terms of its destination, Fischer and Kelly approach it in terms of its origins. Virginia's long history enables them to provide a rich portrait of migration and expansion as a dynamic process that preserved strong cultural continuities. They suggest that the oxymoron "bound away"—from the folksong Shenandoah—captures a vital truth about American history. As people moved west, they built new societies from old materials, in a double-acting process that made America what is today.

Based on an acclaimed exhibition at the Virginia Historical society, the book studies three stages of migration to, within, and from Virginia. Each stage has its own story to tell. All of them together offer an opportunity to study the westward movement through three centuries, as it has rarely been studied before.

Fischer and Kelly believe that the westward movement was a broad cultural process, which is best understood not only through the writings of intellectual elites, but also through the physical artifacts and folkways of ordinary people. The wealth of anecdotes and illustrations in this volume offer a new way of looking at John Smith and William Byrd, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, Dred Scott, and scores of lesser known gentry, yeomen, servants, and slaves who were all "bound away" to an old new world.


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Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement + Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Hackett Fischer is Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. James C. Kelly is Assistant Director for Museums at the Virginia Historical Society.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (March 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813917743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813917740
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. The recipient of many prizes and awards for his teaching and writing, he is the author of numerous books, including Washington's Crossing, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virginia Is For Lovers (Of History) March 17, 2000
Format:Paperback
What an excellent book! The last I knew Fischer was working on a big book concerning plantation life in the south and I assume this is a book that developed out of the research he is doing for that book. This book concerns migration from Britain to Virginia, migration within Virginia and then migration from Virginia to other states. Most of the book deals with the 1700's up until just before the Civil War. I can't do justice to all the interesting information that is in this book during the course of a brief review. The authors explain how people migrated from different parts of Britain and settled in different areas of Virginia. For example, people from Northern England and the Scottish border area tended to settle in southern Virginia. They brought their customs with them which tended to make southern Virginia different from other areas settled by different people. For instance, the Tidewater area was settled by younger sons of the English nobility. These people came over to Virginia because under English law they were not going to inherit estates back home as the first born sons had that right. Different speech patterns developed in different areas as well as different ways of cooking and different forms of architecture, etc. The book also deals extensively with the lives of slaves and the institution of slavery and how the mass migrations out of Virginia involved many, many slaves being taken to other states with their masters or being sold. When the Virginia tobacco based economy began to falter in the late 1700's the sale of slaves to settlers in other states was a great source of income to the white people in Virginia who had fallen on hard times. Read more ›
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great extension of the English Folkways September 20, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading Albion's Seed I was eager to read more about the English folkways. This book expands on that with information about German folkways and African folkways. This books gives a sense the people that expanded westward. There is also a philosophical current about the nature of historial inquiry. He addresses various ideas about frontiers and shows that the process of expansion is not open to one-size-fits all explainations. Though Fischer depricates purely materialist explainations of history, the interplay between the cultural values of the Virginians and the physical limitations of the land is a compelling explaination of the westward expansion.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maintains his high standard! July 27, 2002
Format:Paperback
Fischer wrote _Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America,_ which is one of the best works published in several decades in comparative and local U.S. history, and in many ways this is a continuation of the "Virginia" section of that book. Which is a bit surprising, since the author is a New Englander and previously showed considerable preference for the folkways of Massachusetts over those in the South. Since I have numerous forebears in Virginia, I was particularly interested in the first three chapters: "Migration to Virginia," "Migration in Virginia," and "Migration beyond Virginia." All of those apply to my people and Fischer's coverage of the in-through-and-out process is first-rate. As before, he's an old-fashioned historian, spending a lot of time describing the concrete experiences of particular individuals and families, not spinning out historiographical theory. This is a must-read for anyone interested in Virginia's first couple of centuries.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but uneven March 10, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a continuation of the ground-breaking Albion's Seed, this book is a mixed success. On the one hand, it follows the four threads of Albion's Seed (Cavaliers, Puritans, Quakers, Border) from old Virginia to the new frontiers. The demographic information is interesting and sometimes surprising. On the other hand, the book relies too often on biographies of a few Virginians and is very weak in explaining the massive migration to Ohio in the decades before the Civil War. It is much stronger in following Virginians to the south than to the west and upper midwest, even though Ohio was a major resettlement area. I have to wonder whether this is because Virginia migrants were not as culturally dominant when they moved to Ohio and other more northern states - were they absorbed in the Puritan-Quaker flow? My own Virginia ancestors made just such moves - from the frontier into Ohio from 1818 to 1850, and I had hoped to learn more about this flow. Still, Bound Away presents a strong challenge to the Turner thesis that the frontier was the source of American democracy and renewal. It is a worthwhile study of an important subject.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
A fascinating history of migration to, within, and from Virginia, the Old Dominion. The "to" begins with the English colonization at Roanoke (the lost colony) and Jamestown. "Within" is movement of colonists to various parts of the region, including the tidewater, piedmont, southside, northern neck, and "the valley" (Shenandoah). And "from" is the movement of Virginians to all parts of the country, south, north, but mainly west. What happened to Virginia, the most populous and prosperous of states during the early U.S. Republic? Why the decline after four of the first five presidents were Virginians (Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe)? Part of the reason was a great migration west, both northwest and southwest. Why? The land was depleted from generations of farming, and there wasn't enough land for the growing population. But Virginia's emigrants and their descendants had great impacts on other territories and U.S. history: Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton, William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, Stephen Austin and Sam Houston. The authors use Turner's theory of the frontier as the backdrop for a vivid portrayal of Virginia and U.S. history. One weakness is a section of name-dropping about now unknown families who migrated west. Other than that, a lively story recommended for those interested in Virginia and U.S. history. Plenty of pictures and maps--the book accompanied an exhibit at the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enormous Insight into the Settling of America by Virginians
Many observers have remarked that Virginia is the mother of the states. This book backs up that idea with facts, observations, and great storytelling. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Carl Robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Find volume II
Read Fischer's book (really just skimmed) years ago. But now I want to read all of it. Problem, while I purchased volume I, I can't locate volume II, American Plantations. Help! Read more
Published 12 months ago by robert e. barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and informative
I borrowed this book and read it through, then realized I wanted to purchase to read and reference. Excellent narrative style and strong data.
Published 12 months ago by Helen Kimble
3.0 out of 5 stars largely a repeat of "Albion's Seed."
We were promised a book that never got written.... I consider Fischer one of the greats in the history department, and I feel a sense of loss that he couldn't follow through.
Published 12 months ago by Sunny
5.0 out of 5 stars Concentrates on how slavery shaped Virginia, Kentucky and Westward
I loved this book. Shows how slavery shaped Virginia and the migration westward and south. I learned that Virginia was made up mainly of two classes, while Maryland which had... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Claudia10
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Fischer must-read
A detailed look at how the Virginia backcountry populated and spread their cultural to the old southwest. Excellent research and remarkable insight of the folkways of the region. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Rebecca
4.0 out of 5 stars I am a fan of DHF.
I try to read everything he writes. I hate this algorithm requiring a minimum of words. Now it wants "four more words" here ar three: go to hell! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kenneth L armstrong
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for Southern Genealogists
I ordered this book for a friend, because I found it so helpful in searching for families whose ancestors arrived from Europe and made their homes along the southern Atlantic... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Y.A. Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history!
This is very well written and interesting book. I'm into genealogy and found very useful background information. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Judy M
1.0 out of 5 stars Not an audible edition
I continue to wait for this book to read on my Kindle minus the audible edition. Will this ever happen?
Published on July 23, 2011 by Ronald G. White
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