Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




James Axtell


Southeastern North America was the scene of international, intercultural, and interethnic frontiers during the first two-thirds of the eighteenth century. Europeans and Indians existed there in greater relative concentrations than anywhere else in North America, and each European colony and Indian nation constituted a different locus of trade, diplomacy, and war. Because of the relatively high population density and national and ethnic complexity of the region, commercial, diplomatic, and military relations there exhibited a different character than in earlier-colonized regions from Virginia northward and in the Caribbean.;The southeastern Indians existed in a state of dependency in the eighteenth century which grew as the century wore on. The Indians' position relative to the Europeans was mitigated by the competition of three imperial powers for their trade and alliance. All major Indian powers in the region had a choice of at least two Europeans as trading partners and allies, and the Creeks bordered all three. The Creeks followed a conscious policy of balance-of-power after 1715 which helped maintain the political and diplomatic status quo on the frontier for half a century.;Europeans tried to alter the imperial status quo several times before 1763 but were unsuccessful each time. This was partly due to their own status of dependency on Europe; their policies were not always their own to devise. Economic, political, and military dependence on European capitals, intercolonial disputes, and internal politics made each colony less than effective in carrying out policies designed to better their position relative to other European and Indian powers.;This study first analyses southeastern Indian culture and the region's history to 1732 to establish the cultural, economic, ethnic, political and imperial background against which Indians and Europeans interacted in the Southeast. Subsequent chapters focus on specific episodes and events to 1763 that illustrate how a precarious balance between and among Indian and European powers operated, and why no power was able to upset that balance. Finally it shows that when the balance was upset after 1760 it was the result of intervention by outside forces.



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