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Frontier Indiana (History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier) Hardcover – October 1, 1996

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this readable history, Cayton (The Frontier Republic, Kent State Univ., 1986) traces the development of Indiana from 1700, when the Miami tribe dominated the region, to 1850 and the end of the frontier. While some scholars might quibble with Cayton's definition and use of the term frontier, he does succeed in producing an enjoyable narrative history of the people who occupied Indiana for 150 years. While not as encompassing as James H. Madison's Indiana Way (Indiana Univ./Indiana Historical Society, 1986), this title focuses on some of the individuals involved in key aspects of Indiana history. Cayton admits that the people he includes are not necessarily those who played the most pivotal roles but are those about whom there is ample source material. He nonetheless provides a balanced perspective and never lapses into the "great man" notion of history. At times, though, one does lose a sense of the broader context in which some of these individuals lived. For the serious reader, the bibliographic essay is particularly good. Recommended for general readers and academic libraries.?Daniel D. Liestman, Seattle Pacific Univ. Lib., Kent, Wash.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"... excellent... valuable contributions to both the general and the informed reader." ―American Historical Review

"Andrew Cayton has contributed another valuable addition to the historical literature on the Old Northwest.... a finely textured social history." ―Michigan Historical Review

"Extremely readable and exciting treatments of the region during the 18th and 19th centuries." ―The Annals of Iowa

"The research and scholarship that went into the work are excellent; so good, in fact, that the book should be on the required text list for all Transappalachian frontier courses." ―History

Cayton's graceful, arresting narrative is grounded in primary and secondary sources, including classics by Emma Lou Thornbrough and Bernard Knollenberg, James Madison's The Indiana Way (CH, Jan'87), and new studies from such scholars as Richard White and Gregory Evans Dowd. Spanning 1700―1850 in ten chapters and an epilogue, Cayton's first-rate study interprets the successive worlds of the Miami (1700―1754), then of individuals whose experiences epitomized unfolding chapters of Indiana frontier history. With a keen ear for the revealing anecdote and apt quotation, the author treats the world of George Croghan (1750―1777); the village of Vincennes (1765―1777); the milieus of George Rogers Clark (1778―1787), Josiah Harmar, and John Francis Hamtramck (1787―1790); Little Turtle (1790―1795); Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison (wife of William Henry Harrison, 1795―1810); Tenskwatawa (1795―1811); Jonathan Jennings (1800―1816); and the end of the frontier (1816―1850). Along the way readers discover figures such as John and William Conner, the early rivalry between Centerville and Richmond, an explanation of why Indiana remained a state of small towns and farms until the latter half of the 20th century, and the basis for understanding one of the more interesting states of the Union. Fine illustrations, maps. All levels.D. W. Steeples, Mercer University, Choice, February 1997

"Cayton’s book will give pleasure to anyone who wants to know more about Indiana and its peoples, and will also be appreciated by scholars for its perceptive analyses and for its incorporation of recent research on a variety of topics." ―Journal of the Early Republic

"A superb introduction to the latest scholarship on American frontiers." ―William and Mary Quarterly

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Series: History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier
  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253330483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253330482
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,205,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First let me mention a few things about the author before we take a look at the book.

Andrew Cayton, Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University of Ohio, is THE world authority on the frontier history of the Western Reserve and Northwest Territory. Here, as in all of the books he writes, you're dealing with the product of a powerful, critical intellect and a novelist's narrative skill. Dr. Cayton's books do not disappoint, and this one is no exception.

This book establishes a thesis that the author goes on to further explore in his later books, namely, that the unique cultural characteristics of the states that formed immediately over the Appalachian mountains during (and after) the American Revolution - Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana - are a direct result of the blending of peoples from different migration routes. Indiana is NOTHING like Ohio, for example, because the French and the native Americans established large cultural footprints there, whereas, they did not in Ohio. American migrants into Indiana, which formed from the Northwest Territory, came (mostly) from the South, from lowland Virginia, through Kentucky, and across the Ohio river. In Ohio, which formed as an extension of the older Western Reserve, migrants came across the Ohio river from Pennsylvania, far northwestern Virginia and, most profoundly, from New England. Nobody is likely to confuse Vincennes, Indiana with Marietta, Ohio. No, no, Hoosiers are nothing like Buckeyes, and neither are like blue-grass Kentuckians.

The book is divided into chronological chapters, defined by the dominant cultural influences of each period. It starts with the "World of the Miami," and passes through successive periods of French, English, and American territorial influences.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite books on the history of the Old Northwest Territory. I enjoyed it very much, and I felt it was very interesting. Cayton writes in chapters, explaining about certain parts of Indiana from the viewpoints of someone involved in the area of Indiana studied, either in the military, politically, as a Native American, and a civilian. It's a great book and I have used it as a reference, and read back over it many times since I bought it for a course several years ago.
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By L. Miller on February 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is well written. I enjoy searching for family tree members in genealogy. I wanted a book to give me background on the movement of people and development of states during the expansion of the USA. This book is a good addition to my library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the rest of the books of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier series, Frontier Indiana is well written. It is easy to put yourself into the story of what frontier life was truly like. If you are a history buff and especially have an interest in frontier life you will likely enjoy this book.
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