The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XVI
THE STRUGGLE FOR THE WEST AND THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE

THE great fact of American history during the first half of the eighteenth century is the process of expansion, by which the British provinces preëmpted not only the seaboard from Nova Scotia to Georgia but also the eastern slopes of the Appalachian system. With the exception of two struggling settlements, Nova Scotia in the north and Georgia in the south, this expansion had come about through the development of older provinces rather than the organization of new ones. The work could not have been done, however, without the help of many thousand new immigrants, who found on these upland frontiers opportunities no longer open to them in the region occupied by the seventeenth- century pioneers.

British expansion.

Along with this solid colonization of the "Old West," as Turner has called it to distinguish it from the newer West beyond the mountains, there was a more adventurous and picturesque kind of enterprise which broke through or passed around the mountain barrier to the "western waters" of the Mississippi valley. Before the end of the seventeenth century, a few daring spirits among the English colonists had ventured into the great "hinterland" to trade with the Indians in the Lake region and in the valleys of the Ohio and its southern tributaries. Then and for the next half century, these English hunters, trappers, and traders, though active enough to disturb their French and Spanish rivals, were still quite insignificant in numbers and worked at a great disadvantage, often separated from

English enterprise beyond the Alleghenies.

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