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The First West

Writing from the American Frontier 1776-1860

Edited by Edward Watts and David Rachels

Publication Date - February 2002

ISBN: 9780195141337

960 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Here is an intriguing blend of literary and nonliterary writing from such well-known figures as Thomas Jefferson, Margaret Fuller, Black Hawk, Caroline Kirkland, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, and Abraham Lincoln.


In late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century American writing, the "West," which comprised the territory between the Appalachian mountains and the Mississippi River, was a ubiquitous topic. Yet this writing is often overlooked in studies of the American West, which reach past this region to the Far Western frontier, and in analyses of whites and Native Americans, which typically focus on moments of contact.
Tracing historic events in the early westward movement, The First West: Writing from the American Frontier 1776-1860 brings together a unique and extensive range of writers and texts. Many of the texts produced in and about this "first West" have not been reprinted until now. The book's selections include government documents and treaties, land-promotion schemes, white depictions of natives, native accounts of whites, easterners describing westerners, westerners describing easterners, and literary texts. Several selections concern contact and conquest, while others focus on community building in the wake of westward-moving white settlement. The volume includes literary and nonliterary writing from such well-known figures as Thomas Jefferson, William Bartram, Margaret Fuller, Black Hawk, Caroline Kirkland, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, and Abraham Lincoln. It also features writing from lesser-known individuals including William Warren, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, Rebecca Burlend, Daniel Drake, Eliza Farnham, and Gideon Lincecum. Demonstrating a strikingly vital interracial, interregional, and intercultural dialogue, The First West illustrates the continuing diversification of American cultural history. An exceptional text for courses in American literature and history, it challenges students' ideas about the American frontier, the West, and the processes of contact, settlement, community, and class.

Table of Contents

    Thematic Contents
    1. J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur (1735-1813)
    from Letters from an American Farmer (1782)
    2. William Bartram (1739-1823)
    from Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws (1791)
    3. Manasseh Cutler (1742-1823)
    An Explanation of the Map of Federal Lands (1787)
    4. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    Report of a Plan of Government for the Western Territory (1784)
    Letter to John Breckenridge (1803)
    5. John Filson (c. 1747-1788) and Daniel Boone (1734-1820)
    from The Discovery, Settlement, and Present State of Kentucke: And an Essay Toward the Topography, and Natural History of That Important Country (1784)
    The Adventures of Col. Daniel Boon (1784)
    6. George Rogers Clarke (1752-1818)
    from The Conquest of the Illinois (1788)
    7. Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748-1816)
    The Trial of Mamachtaga (1785;1806;1808)
    from Incidents of the Insurrection (1795)
    8. Dr. John Knight (?-1838)
    The Narrative of Dr. Knight (1783)
    9. The Northwest Ordinance (1787)
    10. Gilbert Imlay (c. 1754?-1828?)
    from The Emigrants (1793)
    11. Selected Treaties between the United States and Native American Tribes
    Treaty with the Cherokee (1791)
    Treaty of Greenville (1795)
    Treaty of St. Louis (1804)
    Treaty of Prairie du Chien (1829)
    12. Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838)
    from Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806
    13. Black Hawk (Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak) (1767-1838)
    from The Life of Black Hawk (1833)
    14. Zadok Cramer (1773-1813)
    from The Navigator (1814)
    15. James Kirke Paulding (1778-1860)
    from The Backwoodsman (1818)
    16. Charles Ball (1781-?)
    from Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, a Black Man (1837)
    17. Timothy Flint (1780-1840)
    from Recollections of the Last Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi (1826)
    The Indian Fighter (1830)
    Nimrod Buckskin, Esq. (1832)
    18. John Tanner (1780-1847)
    from A Narrative of the Captivity and Adventures of John Tanner (1830)
    19. Robert Breckinridge McAfee (1784-1849)
    from History of the Late War in the Western Country (1816)
    20. John James Audubon (1785-1851)
    The Prairie (1831)
    Kentucky Sports (1831)
    Colonel Boon (1831)
    The Squatters of the Mississippi (1833)
    21. Minor Native Voices
    Tecumseh (1771-1813), Speech at Malden (1813)
    Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (1800-1841), Otagamiad (1827)
    George W. Harkins (?-?), Farewell Letter to the American People (1832)
    22. Daniel Drake (1785-1852)
    Remarks on the Importance of Promoting Literary and Social Concert in the Valley of the Mississippi (1833)
    Discourse on the History, Character, and Prospects of the West (1834)
    23. Henry Marie Brackenridge (1786-1871)
    from Views of Louisiana (1814)
    24. Lydia B. Bacon (1786-1853)
    from Biography of Mrs. Lydia B. Bacon (1811-1812, 1856)
    25. David Crockett (1786-1836)
    from A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett (1834)
    26. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
    from The Prairie (1827)
    27. Daniel Bryan (c. 1790-1866)
    from The Adventures of Daniel Boone (1813)
    28. Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870)
    The Fight (1833, 1835)
    The Shooting Match (1835)
    29. Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864)
    from Travels (1821)
    The Legend of Waub Ojeeg (1826-1827)
    The Rise of the West (1841)
    30. James Hall (1793-1868)
    Three Hundred Years Hence (1830)
    The Catholic Question (1835)
    On Black Hawk (1848)
    31. Rebecca Burlend (1793-1872)
    from A True Picture of Emigration (1848)
    32. Gideon Lincecum (1793-1874)
    from Autobiography of Gideon Lincecum (1872, 1904)
    33. Benjamin Drake (1794-1841)
    The Battle of Brindle and the Buck-Eyes (1835)
    from The Life of Black Hawk (1838)
    34. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
    The Prairies (1833)
    35. Thomas Ford (1800-1850)
    from A History of Illinois (1854)
    36. Caroline Kirkland (1801-1864)
    from A New Home: Who'll Follow? (1838)
    37. Indian Removal Act and Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
    Indian Removal Act (1830)
    Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831)
    38. Elias Boudinot (1803?-1839)
    An Address to the Whites (1826)
    39. Constitution of the Cherokee Nation (1839)
    40. Joseph Snelling (1804-1848)
    The Devoted (1830)
    41. James Williams (1805-?)
    from Narrative of James Williams, An American Slave (1838)
    42. William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870)
    Written in Mississippi (1827)
    To a Winter Flower, Written in the Creek Nation (1827)
    The Traveller's Rest (1849, 1853)
    The Western Emigrants (1836, 1853)
    from Guy Rivers: A Tale of Georgia (1834, 1855)
    43. William Davis Gallagher (1808-1894)
    Sketches of the Literature of the West (and Response--Thoughts of My Own) (1841)
    The Miami Woods (1841)
    The Mothers of the West (1841)
    Song of the Pioneers (1860)
    The Laborer (1860)
    Radicalos (1860)
    44. Minor Poets of Cincinnati
    Laura M. Thurston (?-?), On Crossing the Alleghanies and The Green Hills of my Fatherland
    Charles Jones (?-?), Tecumseh
    Frederick Thomas (1811-1866), Extracts from the Emigrant
    45. Joseph Holt Ingraham (1809-1860)
    from The South-West (1835)
    46. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
    Letter to Speed Joshua (1841)
    On Sectionalism (1856)
    47. Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
    from A Summer on the Lakes (1844)
    48. John Beauchamp Jones (1810-1866)
    from Wild Western Scenes: A Narrative of Adventures in the Western Wilderness (1841, 1856)
    49. William Tappan Thompson (1812-1882)
    The Seminole Dance (1836)
    50. Johnson Jones Hooper (1815-1862)
    Simon Speculates Again (1845)
    Simon Becomes Captain (1845)
    The "Tallapoosy Vollantares" Meet the Enemy (1845)
    51. Eliza W. Farnham (1815-1864)
    from Life in Prairie Land (1846)
    52. Joseph Glover Baldwin (1815-1864)
    The Bar of the South-West (1853)
    53. Thomas Bangs Thorpe (1815-1878)
    The Big Bear of Arkansas (1841, 1854)
    54. James L. Scott (?-?)
    from A Missionary Tour (1843)
    55. Kah-Ge-Gah-Gah-Bowh (George Copway) (1818-c.1863)
    Address before the Legislature of Pennsylvania (1849)
    56. Horace Smith Fulkerson (1818-1891)
    Shocco Jones in Mississippi (c. 1868, 1885)
    Hanging the Gamblers (c. 1868, 1885)
    57. Alice Cary (1820-1871)
    Charlotte Ryan (1853)
    58. William Warren (1825-1853)
    from History of the Ojibway People (1852, 1885)
    59. William Coggeshall (1824-1867)
    The Protective Policy in Literature (1859)
    Suggestions For Further Reading