This volume reports in detail how a particular portion of the American wilderness developed into a settled farming community. To fully comprehend the history of the American people in the early national period, an understanding of this transformation from forest to community—and the pattern of life within such communities where the vast majority of the people live—is essential.
Three major conclusions emerge from Philip L. White's study of Beekmantown, New York. First, the economic advantages of the frontier attracted a first generation of settlers relatively high in social and economic status, but the disappearance of frontier conditions brought a second generation of settlers appreciably lower in status. Second, White rejects the romantic notion that the frontier fostered equality and argues instead that the frontier's economic opportunities fostered inequality. Finally, in contrast to revisionist arguments, he affirms that in Beekmantown the Jacksonian period does indeed warrant characterization as the era of the "common man."
This book represents a model in community history: the narrative is full of human interest; the scholarship is prodigious; the applications are universal.