While all generalizations are dangerous, not to link a particular case to wider trends threatens to reduce a subject to insignificance. Pennsylvania's major role in the American Revolution clearly requires some tentative effort to situate its experiences as part of the whole. Two broader contexts suggest themselves: backcountry studies and studies of loyalism and Revolutionary allegiance.1
In the last decade, some of the most important work in early American history has dealt with the backcountry. Based on the pioneering theses in Carl Bridenbaugh's 1947 classic Myths and Realities: Societies of the Colonial South, and the more recent studies of geographer Robert D. Mitchell,2 publications on the interrelated though by no means interchangeable topics of the frontier, the west, the backcountry, and Appalachia have revised our image of the region.3 The stereotype of a wild and woolly west, populated primarily by poor subsistence farmers and cut off from the more cosmopolitan east, is simply false. Except for brief periods of initial settlement and unusually isolated places, the hinterland was from the beginning settled by people who retained strong ties with the east, who were interested in commercial development, and who quickly developed economic and political elites of their own.
For Pennsylvania, the poor, geographically isolated Juniata Valley was the exception to a commercially vibrant and politically maturing frontier. Studies by Stephanie Grauman Wolfe of Germantown and James Lemon of Chester County, Pennsylvania, have become models for studies of regions much farther