Frontier Illinois / Edition 1

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Frontier Illinois
James E. Davis

"A comprehensive, readable history of this distinctive prairie state before the Civil War.... This deft synthesis of existing knowledge is likely to become the standard modern history of Illinois." —Kirkus Reviews

"Davis provides an incisive portrait of prairie society.... A fresh and sophisticated survey of early Illinois." —Choice

"O, this is a delightful country!" one newly arrived settler wrote to a friend back East. Indeed, as James E. Davis shows, many newcomers found Illinois a hospitable and relatively peaceful place in which to start a new life. In this sweeping history of the making of the state, Davis tells the story of Illinois from the Ice Age to the eve of the Civil War. He describes the earliest Indian
civilizations, the coming of LaSalle and Joliet and the founding of the French colony, the brief history of British Illinois, and the complex history of subsequent settlement that brought distinct cultural traditions to Illinois.

A major theme of this book is the relative absence of violence, at least after the Blackhawk War of 1832, even over explosive issues such as slavery. Davis treats these developments in careful detail, while keeping the reader mindful of the experiences of Illinois’ ordinary people.

James E. Davis is William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Professor of Geography at Illinois College. He is author of Frontier America, 1800–1840: A Comparative
Demographic Analysis of the Settlement Process and Dreams to Dust.

A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier series—Walter Nugent and Malcolm Rohrbough, general editors

Sales territory is worldwide
A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier
1998; 432 pages, 13 b&w photos, 5 maps, notes, bibl., index, 6 x 9
cloth 0-253-33423-3 $39.95 L / £28.50
paper 0-253-21406-8 $18.95 t / £13.50

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive, readable history of this distinctive prairie state before the Civil War. Davis (History/Illinois Coll.; Frontier America, 1800-1840, not reviewed) takes us from the time when what is now the state of Illinois was nothing but uninhabited land to the year in which its previously defeated senatorial candidate, Abraham Lincoln, became president of the US. In between, Illinois passed from native through French and briefly British, finally to American hands and went from a frontier wilderness to a prosperous urban society. Davis analyzes this complex transformation in consistently lively prose, scanting neither the main characters nor the more impersonal forces that brought this change about. Native Americans are front and center through much of the story. So, too, are the diverse populations of European settlers-French and post-Revolution Americans uppermost-and African-Americans, both slave and free. What helped make this most south-reaching midwestern state distinctive was its dual in-migration of southerners moving north, often with their slaves, and easterners moving west with their free-soil culture. Out of the original territories of the Old Northwest, established by the great Ordinance of 1787, Illinois became a state in 1818, after political shenanigans that won it statehood without the minimum number of inhabitants required by law and with the questionable addition, from the Wisconsin Territory, of thousands of square miles that included the land on which Chicago, the Midwest's greatest city, rose. Throughout all of these developments, and especially the gradual erosion of slavery, this "far distant country" remained comparatively free of violence and attached tocommunal norms. Davis ends his tale when Illinois, no longer a frontier land, had become the most highly urbanized of any state west of the Appalachians on the eve of the Civil War. This deft synthesis of existing knowledge is likely to become the standard modern history of Illinois. (13 b&w photos, 5 maps, not seen.) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253214065
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2000
  • Series: A History of the Trans-Appalachian Frontier Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 1,439,819
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

James E. Davis is William and Charlotte Gardner Professor of History and Professor of Geography at Illinois College. He is the author of FRONTIER AMERICA, 1800-1840: A COMPARATIVE DEMOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF THE SETTLEMENT PROCESS (1977), DREAMS TO DUST (1989), and a number of articles, monographs, edited works, and reviews. Professor Davis is recipient of the Harry J. Dunbaugh Distinguished Professor Award for outstanding teaching (1981 and 1993) and was an NEH Fellow in St. Petersburg and Moscow, where he studied Russian architecture and art. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois State Historical Society and as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the JOURNAL OF ILLINOIS HISTORY.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Walter Nugent and Malcolm J. Rohrbough
Preface
Acknowledgments
A Note on Quotations, Citations, and Sources

Prologue

Part I. Vast Lands and Contending Peoples

Chapter 1. The Shaping of Settlement
Chapter 2. Commingling Cultures
Chapter 3. The South and War for Empire
Chapter 4. Light British Rule

Part II. American Presence
Chapter 5. A Tenuous Conquest
Chapter 6. Firm Foundations
Chapter 7. Rumblings Across the Land

Part III. Statehood and Troubles
Chapter 8. Shaping a State
Chapter 9. Migration, Trials, and Tragedy

Part IV. The Formative 1830s
Chapter 10. Excitement in the Land
Chapter 11. Transportation, Towns, and Institutions
Chapter 12. Social Clashes and Economic Collapse

Part V. Cooperation and Conflict
Chapter 13. Race, Ethnicity, and Class
Chapter 14. Conflicts and Community

Part VI. Frontier Illinois Fades
Chapter 15. Ties that Bind
Chapter 16. Changing Ecology, Evolving Society

Notes
Works Cited
Index

Indiana University Press

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