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But to this "wrong side of the hedge" New England men continued to migrate. The frontier towns of 1695 were hardly more than suburbs of Boston. The frontier of a century later included New England's colonies in Vermont, Western New York, the Wyoming Valley, the Connecticut Reserve, and the Ohio Company's settlement in the Old Northwest Territory. By the time of the Civil War the frontier towns of New England had occupied the great prairie zone of the Middle West and were even planted in Mormon Utah and in parts of the Pacific Coast. New England's sons had become the organizers of a Greater New England in the West, captains of industry, political leaders, founders of educational systems, and prophets of religion, in a section that was to influence the ideals and shape the destiny of the nation in ways to which the eyes of men like Cotton Mather were sealed.63
63 [See F. J. Turner, "Greater New England in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century,' in American Antiquarian Society "Proceedings," October 1919, XXIX.]
It is not the oldest West with which this chapter deals. The oldest West was the Atlantic coast. Roughly speaking, it took a century of Indian fighting and forest felling for the colonial settlements to expand into the interior to a distance of about a hundred miles from the coast. Indeed, some stretches were hardly touched in that period. This conquest of the nearest wilderness in the course of the seventeenth century and in the early years of the eighteenth, gave control of the maritime section of the nation and made way for the new movement of westward expansion which I propose to discuss.
In his " Winning of the West," Roosevelt dealt chiefly with the region beyond the Alleghanies, and with the period of the later eighteenth century, although he prefaced his account with an excellent chapter describing the backwoodsmen of the Alleghanies and their social conditions from 1769 to 1774. It is important to notice, however, that he is concerned with a backwoods society already formed; that he ignores the New England frontier and its part in the winning of the West, and does not recognize that there was a West to be won between New England and the Great Lakes. In short, he is interested in the winning of the West beyond the Alleghanies by the southern half of the frontier folk.
1 Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin for 1908. Reprinted with the permission of the Society.
There is, then, a western area intermediate between the coastal colonial settlements of the seventeenth century and the trans-Alleghany settlements of the latter portion of the eighteenth century. This section I propose to isolate and discuss under the name of the Old West, and in the period from about 1676 to 1763. It includes the back country of New England, the Mohawk Valley, the Great Valley of Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley, and the Piedmont - that is, the interior or upland portion of the South, lying between the Alleghanies and the head of navigation of the Atlantic rivers marked by the "fall line." 2
In this region, and in these years, are to be found the beginnings of much that is characteristic in Western society, for the Atlantic coast was in such close touch with Europe that its frontier experience was soon counteracted, and it developed along other lines. It is unfortunate that the colonial back country appealed so long to historians solely in connection with the colonial wars, for the development of its society, its institutions and mental attitude all need study. Its history has been dealt with in separate fragments, by states, or towns, or in discussions of special phases, such as German and ScotchIrish immigration. The Old West as a whole can be appre
2 For the settled area in 1660, see the map by Lois Mathews in Channing, "United States" (N. Y., 1905), i, p. 510; and by Albert Cook Myers in Avery, "United States" (Cleveland, 1905), ii, following p. 398. In Channing, ii, following p. 603, is Marion F. Lansing's map of settlement in 1760, which is on a rather conservative basis, especially the part showing the interior of the Carolinas.
Contemporaneous maps of the middle of the eighteenth century, useful in studying the progress of settlement, are: Mitchell, "Map of the British Colonies" (1755); Evans, "Middle British Colonies" (1758); Jefferson and Frye, "Map of Virginia" (1751 and 1755).
On the geographical conditions, see maps and text in Powell, "Physiographic Regions” (N. Y., 1896), and Willis, “Northern Appalachians," in "Physiography of the United States" (N. Y., 1896), pp. 73–82, 169– 176, 196-201.
1676 - 176 3
ciated only by obliterating the state boundaries which conceal its unity, by correlating the special and fragmentary studies, and by filling the gaps in the material for understanding the formation of its society. The present paper is rather a reconnaissance than a conquest of the field, a program for study of the Old West rather than an exposition of it.
The end of the period proposed may be placed about 1763,and the beginning between 1676 and 1700. The termination of the period is marked by the Peace of Paris in 1763, and the royal proclamation of that year forbidding settlement beyond the Alleghanies. By this time the settlement of the Old West was fairly accomplished, and new advances were soon made into the "Western Waters" beyond the mountains and into the interior of Vermont and New Hampshire. The isolation of the transmontane settlements, and the special conditions and doctrines of the Revolutionary era during which they were formed, make a natural distinction between the period of which I am to speak and the later extension of the West.
The beginning of the period is necessarily an indeterminate date, owing to the different times of colonizing the coastal areas which served as bases of operations in the westward advance. The most active movements into the Old West occurred after 1730. But in 1676 New England, having closed the exhausting struggle with the Indians, known as King Philip's War, could regard her established settlements as secure, and go on to complete her possession of the interior. This she did in the midst of conflicts with the exterior Indian tribes which invaded her frontiers from New York and Canada during the French and Indian wars from 1690 to 1760, and under frontier conditions different from the conditions of the earlier Puritan colonization. In 1676, Virginia was passing through Indian fighting-keenest along the fall line, where the frontier lay- and also experiencing a social revolt which resulted in the defeat of the
democratic forces that sought to stay the progress of aristocratic control in the colony. The date marks the end of the period when the Virginia tidewater could itself be regarded as a frontier region, and consequently the beginning of a more special interest in the interior.
Let us first examine the northern part of the movement into the back country. The expansion of New England into the vacant spaces of its own section, in the period we have chosen for discussion, resulted in the formation of an interior society which contrasted in many ways with that of the coast, and which has a special significance in Western history, in that it was this interior New England people who settled the Greater New England in central and western New York, the Wyoming Valley, the Connecticut Reserve of Ohio, and much of the prairie areas of the Old Northwest. It is important to realize that the Old West included interior New England.
The situation in New England at the close of the seventeenth century is indicated by the Massachusetts act of 1694 enumerating eleven towns, then on the frontier and exposed to raids, none of which might be voluntarily deserted without leave of the governor and council, on penalty of loss of their freeholds by the landowners, or fine of other inhabitants.*
Thus these frontier settlers were made substantially garrisons, or "mark colonies." Crowded into the palisades of the town, and obliged in spite of their poverty to bear the brunt of Indian attack, their hardships are illustrated in the manly but pathetic letters of Deerfield's minister, Mr. Williams, in 1704. Parkman succinctly describes the general conditions in these words: "
3 See Osgood, "American Colonies" (N. Y., 1907), iii, chap. iii. 4 See chapter ii, ante.
5 Sheldon, "Deerfield" (Deerfield, Mass., 1895), i, p. 288.
• Parkman, "Frontenac" (Boston, 1898), p. 390; compare his descrip