Robert J. Holden
Addressing the American Historical Association in 1893, frontier historian Frederick Jackson Turner postulated that the unoccupied land adjacent to the line of settlement had acted as a magnet drawing Americans westward and in the process had helped imbue them with a distinctly American character. Such personal traits as mobility, innovativeness, enterprise, egalitarianism and a dedication to democratic principles, he believed, were products of the frontier experience.
In the century following Turner's presentation, the study of American frontier history has flourished. There is something basic and elemental in the frontier dynamic that appeals to researchers and readers alike. Thousands of books and articles have been written, but many areas remain to be explored.
The annual George Rogers Clark Trans-Appalachian Frontier History Conferences were inaugurated in 1983 by the National Park Service and Vincennes University to encourage research into the early recorded years of this region. The great importance of Vincennes during the frontier period makes this historic city a logical setting for these annual gatherings.
This volume from the 1989 and 1990 conferences contains papers on a wide variety of frontier subjects including traders, forts, warfare, Indians and frontiersmen. The geographical area covered in the papers extends from northern Ohio to central Tennessee and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River. The authors provide much material of interest for the professional historian and for the general reader.
Many individuals have given invaluable assistance with the 1989 and 1990 history conferences and the preparation of these selected papers. I wish to express my appreciation to Terry DiMattio, James Holcomb, Terri Utt, Pat Wilkerson, Richard Day and Pamela A. Nolan of the National Park Service, and to Robert R. Stevens, E.J. Fabyan, Douglas Power, Ken J. Whitkanack, Harold Turner and Barbara A. Kunkler of Vincennes University. A special word of thanks is due Dr. Phillip M. Summers, president of Vincennes University, who has given much support during the past eight years to the conferences and to the printing of the resulting four volumes of selected papers.
Robert J. Holden
Last Updated: 23-Mar-2011