The Backcountry Towns of Colonial Virginia

Overview

For decades historians and historical geographers have neglected the study of town life in the colonial South, simply portraying towns as the result of increasing population density. The Backcountry Towns of Colonial Virginia, the first comprehensive study of town development in the interior of the colonial South, marshals evidence that planned urban settlements were the essential agents in accelerating westward expansion. Through the analysis of twenty-five attempts to create towns in the Virginia backcountry, ...

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Overview

For decades historians and historical geographers have neglected the study of town life in the colonial South, simply portraying towns as the result of increasing population density. The Backcountry Towns of Colonial Virginia, the first comprehensive study of town development in the interior of the colonial South, marshals evidence that planned urban settlements were the essential agents in accelerating westward expansion. Through the analysis of twenty-five attempts to create towns in the Virginia backcountry, the work demonstrates there was a distinctly southern urbanmovement in the colonial period. It explores the factors that lead to the success or failure of a community and examines how each backcountry region operated as an economic unit uniquely suited to its development. Towns opened up land, attracting people to move into new areas or participate in new business opportunities. They furthered settlement, influenced immigration, created family and socialnetworks, and fostered the development of trade and systems of credit. The actions of a few individuals and groups of people resulted in the rapid occupation, settlement, and development of the Virginia backcountry through the consciouscreation of economic and social forces. The most complete study of southern towns since John Reps’s Tidewater Towns, The Backcountry Towns of Colonial Virginia offers a new understanding of property ownership, burgeoning trade, and immigration factors–the very elements of urban centers–in backcountry Virginia.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572335431
  • Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2006
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher E. Hendricks is professor of history at Armstrong Atlantic State University. He is a contributor to The Encyclopedia of Appalachia and his publications have appeared in the Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians, the Journal of Southwest Georgia History, and the North Carolina Historical Review.

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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    innovative, but well-founded view on founding and development of early Virginia towns

    A professor of history at Armstrong Atlantic State U., Hendricks writes on how towns in backcountry Virginia came about from the designs and ambitions of entrepreneurial individuals. They did not just spring up randomly in some pleasing meadow or on some riverbank happened upon by a frontiersman, for example, or a group which had struck out into the wilderness. 'The people who put these plans [for towns] into action were motivated by a variety of economic, social, or philanthropic factors and sometimes purely by circumstance and opportunity.' These entrepreneurial-like individuals were not a part of any organized movement. But their activities in toto played a large part in opening up the western parts of Virginia and setting a pattern for westward expansion. Among the towns Hendricks studies in larger topological areas such as the Piedmont and the Great Valley (Shenandoah) are Winchester, Marysville, Leesburg, Woodstock, Charlottesville, and Brent Town. Early maps of many of the towns especially demonstrate the ideas and purposes of their founders. Along with the maps, the authors specifics on the conception, establishment, and early period of the many towns makes each oe stand out distinctively. The enterprises and goals of the town were as varied as the individuals who conceived them.

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