Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier

Into the American Woods Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier James Merrell s brilliant book is an account of the go betweens the Europeans and Indians who moved between cultures on the Pennsylvania frontier in efforts to maintain the peace It is also a reflect

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  • Title: Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier
  • Author: James H. Merrell
  • ISBN: 9780393319767
  • Page: 308
  • Format: Paperback
  • James Merrell s brilliant book is an account of the go betweens, the Europeans and Indians who moved between cultures on the Pennsylvania frontier in efforts to maintain the peace It is also a reflection on the meanings of wilderness to the colonists and natives of the New World From the Quaker colony s founding in the 1680s into the 1750s, Merrell shows us how the go James Merrell s brilliant book is an account of the go betweens, the Europeans and Indians who moved between cultures on the Pennsylvania frontier in efforts to maintain the peace It is also a reflection on the meanings of wilderness to the colonists and natives of the New World From the Quaker colony s founding in the 1680s into the 1750s, Merrell shows us how the go betweens survived in the woods, dealing with problems of food, travel, lodging, and safety, and how they sought to bridge the vast cultural gaps between the Europeans and the Indians The futility of these efforts became clear in the sickening plummet into war after 1750 A stunningly original and exceedingly well written account of diplomacy on the edge of the Pennsylvania wilderness Publishers Weekly

    One thought on “Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier”

    1. This is a masterful history of the treaties, conferences, conflicts, violence, and facade of agreement that existed on the Pennsylvania frontier and Ohio country in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century. Merrell is an impressive historian and a master story teller, and this book showcases both talents.

    2. Well researched and fascinating read of the people-groups relationships in early Pennsylvania and the go-betweens that fostered those relationships. The pacing was slow in places, and the organization of the material caused it to jump around in dates which got confusing (each chapter would trace the development of a specific topic throughout the time period under study) Also, the author seemed to have a one-sided opinion on where each side "really" stood -- for example, most of the characters wo [...]

    3. William Penn, founder of the Pennsylvania Colony, was an idealist. He sincerely believed that all men, no matter how different, could live together in peace, and he based the Indian policy of his colony on that principle. A 1701 treaty between Penn's colony and the Conestogas Indians was typical; in it both sides pledged "that they shall forever hereafter be as one Head & One Heart, & live in true Friendship & Amity as one People." Penn went on to promise "for himself, his heirs and [...]

    4. James Merrill’s 1999 work Into the American Woods focuses on the diplomatic boundary crossers and go-betweens who facilitated treaty making between different Indian groups and colonists in 17th and 18th century Pennsylvania. “Before a speaker could rise, wampum in hand, to open a treaty session, before a scribe’s pen even began to scratch its way down a page, there was a vital round of journeys taken, meals shared, letters scribbled, beads strung, speeches drafted, and squabbles settled. T [...]

    5. The world of negotiators on the frontier is one that I knew little about, and as such I learned much from this book. I didn't realize prior to reading it that this book was very narrowly focused on the negotiators themselves rather than attempting to cover a broader history of Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Given that, I would likely have benefited from reading a more general history first and then tackling this book. Even things as momentous as the French and Indian War, which I fortunately had don [...]

    6. Merrell fully brings the reader into 18th century Pennsylvania as he explains the relationships between Indians and colonists while focusing on the intermediaries, a difficult group to define and give voice to. His use of primary source material is excellent.

    7. Covers an aspect of Colonial days touched on only tangentially, if at all, in most histories: the white woodsmen who served as intermediaries between the settlers, he Pennsylvania government and the Indians. Remarkable men, most remarkable for living and acting as they did with little real payback.

    8. It's hard to imagine that the frontier used to mean eastern Pennsylvania. This title takes us back to the beginnings of Indian treaties and the promises made and unmade in early colonial history. Well documented. Good read but it did take me some time. I had to handle it in chunks.

    9. Re-read October 2011 for HST 301: Graduate HistoriographyJust as enjoyable the second time around. Re-read September 2013 for HST 301.

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