The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania

By Solon J. Buck; Elizabeth Hawthorn Buck et al. | Go to book overview

XV. Community Life

THE development of community life in the new country was necessarily deferred until after the first stage of settlement. The isolated cabin was a social unit in itself, with the members of a single family as its constituents. As the family acquired neighbors, however, community life naturally came into being. The settlers, except perhaps those of the backwoodsman-hunter type, were no Ishmaels; they had known and enjoyed association with their fellows in the East or in Europe. Those who came direct from Europe, where for centuries most of the farmers had lived in agricultural villages, must have missed community life even more than did those who had lived on farms east of the Appalachians. Yet even the latter had known fellowship with neighbors in church and market and rural gatherings. Those who had come from eastern cities had had association with their kind in such organizations as mechanics' societies, professional groups, and churches; some of them, too, had tasted the more sophisticated pleasure of coming together in groups for lectures, theatrical performances, and concerts. It was natural that, as communities grew, their members should try to reproduce the social opportunities they had known before crossing the mountain barriers to the West.

At first there was little differentiation of the population into social classes, except perhaps at Pittsburgh, where the army officers made a rather exclusive and homogeneous group. By 1812, however, social stratifications were apparent, though probably not so clearly marked as in the East and certainly less rigid than in Europe. Social gradations ranged up through the classes of the indentured servants; the shopkeepers, mechanics, and small farmers; the more prosperous farmers; the professional men and well-to-do merchants, to the highest rank, represented by the officers of Fort Fayette and the wealthy landowners, who frequently described their occupation as that of "gentleman." These classes were not of course rigidly exclusive; for

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The Planting of Civilization in Western Pennsylvania
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • I. the Natural Environment 1
  • Ii. the Indian Regime 19
  • Iii. Forerunners of White Occupation 46
  • Iv. the French Occupation 67
  • V. the Indian Reservation 96
  • Vi. the Cultural Heritage of the Pioneers 115
  • Vii. the Coming of the Settlers 135
  • Viii. the Establishment of Political Boundaries 156
  • Ix. the Revolution and Indian Relations, 1774-95 175
  • X. the Expansion of Settlement 1790-1820 204
  • Xi. the Development of Transportation 229
  • Xii. Frontier Economy 261
  • Xiii. Commercial and Industrial Foundations 288
  • Xiv. Domestic Life 318
  • Xv. Community Life 349
  • Xvi. Intellectual Life 372
  • Xvii. Religion 401
  • Xviii. Local Government and Community Control 430
  • Xix. Frontier Radicalism and Rebellion 454
  • Xx. Jeffersonian Democracy 474
  • Xxi. the Pattern of Culture 488
  • Bibliographical Essay 493
  • Index 539
  • Maps 557
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