Nashville, 1780-1860: From Frontier to City

Nashville, 1780-1860: From Frontier to City

Nashville, 1780-1860: From Frontier to City

Nashville, 1780-1860: From Frontier to City

Excerpt

Nasheville's antebellum history was shaped by the same momentous forces that conditioned the history of the United States: the development of a market economy, the democratization of political institutions, the implacable reality of slavery, and the debacle of secession. Nashville was a stockade fortified against hostile Indians in 1780, a boomtown after the War of 1812, and a political, shipping, and banking center during the decades preceding 1860. There are many ways to tell the story of a city emerging from the wilderness during these years. This account is shaped by political questions. Who were Nashville's leaders? How did they understand the definitions and the responsibilities of community? What was the social structure that was reflected in Nashville's politics? What was the impact of Jacksonian politics on the city? Why and how did the Whigs maintain their ascendancy in Jackson's own city during the life of the second American party system and, afterward, into the period of sectional crisis? I believe that the history of antebellum Nashville reflects in microcosm the political history of the new American nation as it moved from republican to Jacksonian America and then into the crises of the 1850s.

Some time ago I set out to explore Nashville's urban frontier. Stimulated by the essays of Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, shored up by Richard C. Wade's Urban Frontier, and enticed by the resources of the Tennessee Historical Society and the Tennessee State Library and Archives, I began to investigate the Nashville of the first two decades of the nineteenth century. Pressed by questions from readers of my first paper on the subject, I undertook to move backward in time to the city's eighteenth-century beginnings, and, inevitably, I was drawn forward into the history of the mature city.

I say "inevitably" because during the years I have been at work . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.