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Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward…

Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement (2000)

by David Hackett Fischer, James C. Kelly (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Really a book about migration and Virginia as the (then) West became populated by whites from the 18th century and onwards, but I read it more for its account of how different fairly recent societies that we count as precursors to the modern, "free" societies were. The book is framed as a third way between the "Turner thesis" (American open society is a product of the frontier movement) and the modern debunking of that view, and suggests that Turner was right to concentrate on the frontier, but that it was the impulse of seeking out itself that is to credit for the open society that developed.

Contra Turner, but sometimes with hints of a more open society:
-Oligarchies a symptom of how not everything free.
-Harsh penalties, breaking arms, piercing tongue
-First many sirs, then fewer. Then more low schooled etc. young.
-Many were slaves at first, became free.
-Trade of convicts big in the bigger area
-also whites were slaves.
-Little individualism and openness as turner claimed. Hierarchical, subservient culture. But also restless.
-Closed society: Sir William: "I thank God, there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both! (p. 103)"
-Repression and punishment of dissent. Then came tolerance, under English law, which became a more spacious concept of freedom.
-Virginians who traveled further west recreated their old society, with big inequalities. "Within this system of stratification, freedom was perceived in inegalitarian terms as a set of hegemonic liberties which people possessed in different degrees. Some at the top had many liberties. Others at the bottom had none. This was an idea of hegemonic freedom which coexisted with slavery. Many in Virginia and the South felt no contradiction in demanding freedom for themselves and slavery for others. (p. 279)"

Some scattered facts.
-Most settlers initially stemming from same area south in England.
-Slave folk culture developed. Song, banjo.
-The Quakers were very early to ban slavery.

For a good overview, read the concluding chapter. ( )
  ohernaes | May 2, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Hackett Fischerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kelly, James C.Authormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Ruckle, ThomasCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0813917743, Paperback)

Bound Away offers a new understanding of the westward movement. After the Turner thesis which celebrated the frontier as the source of American freedom and democracy, and the iconoclasm of the new western historians who dismissed the idea of the frontier as merely a mask for conquest and exploitation, David Hackett Fischer and James C. Kelly take a third approach to the subject. They share with Turner the idea of the westward movement as a creative process of high importance in American history, but they understand it in a different way.

Where Turner studied the westward movement in terms of its destination, Fischer and Kelly approach it in terms of its origins. Virginia's long history enables them to provide a rich portrait of migration and expansion as a dynamic process that preserved strong cultural continuities. They suggest that the oxymoron "bound away"—from the folksong Shenandoah—captures a vital truth about American history. As people moved west, they built new societies from old materials, in a double-acting process that made America what is today.

Based on an acclaimed exhibition at the Virginia Historical society, the book studies three stages of migration to, within, and from Virginia. Each stage has its own story to tell. All of them together offer an opportunity to study the westward movement through three centuries, as it has rarely been studied before.

Fischer and Kelly believe that the westward movement was a broad cultural process, which is best understood not only through the writings of intellectual elites, but also through the physical artifacts and folkways of ordinary people. The wealth of anecdotes and illustrations in this volume offer a new way of looking at John Smith and William Byrd, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, Dred Scott, and scores of lesser known gentry, yeomen, servants, and slaves who were all "bound away" to an old new world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:46 -0400)

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