Robert J. Holden
The annual George Rogers Clark Trans-Appalachian Frontier History Conference was inaugurated in October 1983 to encourage research into this important field of study and to serve as a focal point for its presentation. The importance of George Rogers Clark's victory over the British at Vincennes during the Revolutionary War makes this historic city on the Wabash River a logical setting for these gatherings. As a further historical connection, these meetings are conducted on the campus of Vincennes University, the oldest institution of higher learning in Indiana.
The events that took place in the Trans-Appalachian region include a direct confrontation among the Indians, French, British, Spanish and Americans. Underlying this cultural and political confrontation was a conflict between man and the elements of an untamed land. The outcome of this struggle had a lasting effect on both American and world history.
There has been a long and distinguished tradition of frontier historical studies on the vast Trans-Appalachian region. Among the early historians who concerned themselves with this area were Lyman C. Draper, Francis Parkman, Frederick Jackson Turner, Reuben Gold Thwaites, Louise P. Kellogg, Mio Milton Quaife, Clarence W. Alvord and James Alton James. Turner's famous essay, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," with its emphasis on the frontier as a major formative agent of American character, is reflected clearly in these papers.
Arranged roughly in chronological order, the selected papers from the 1987 and 1988 conferences cover a broad spectrum. Peter Peregrine's "Claude Jean Allouez, S.J.: A Discussion of His Life on the 300th Anniversary of His Death, August 27, 1689" looks at the priest's missionary efforts from a different perspective. George H. Carroll's "Indian Captivities of the Upper Ohio Valley, 1755-1795" provides insight into tribal life during a period of dynamic and unsettling change. J. Martin West's "The Henry Hamilton Sketches: Visual Images of Woodland Indians" gives a view of how the Indians really appeared during this era. Kenneth C. Carstens' "Issues at Fort Jefferson, 1780-1781: The Quartermaster Books of John Dodge and Martin Carney" illuminates the situation at this post built by George Rogers Clark on the far western frontier. Leo W. Graff Jr.'s "Toussaint Dubois: Political Patriarch of Old Vincennes" looks at an interesting and varied career on the frontier. Robert W. McCluggage's "The Passing of the Woodland Pioneer" explores the life and times of this colorful character of fact and legend.
This third volume in the series of Selected Papers is dedicated to the memory of Robert W. McCluggage, whose tragic death occurred in the spring of 1989 when he attempted to rescue his son from a fire at their home. A true gentleman and scholar, he also demonstrated the best heroic qualities of the frontiersmen of whom he often wrote.
For their great assistance and efforts in the 1987 and 1988 conferences, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Superintendent Terry M. DiMattio, Terri Utt and Pat Wilkerson of the National Park Service, and to President Phillip M. Summers, Robert R. Stevens and David A. Bathe of Vincennes University.
Robert J. Holden
Last Updated: 23-Mar-2011