Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




As a social history of the town and people of Carlisle, Pennsylvania from 1750 to 1810, this dissertation traces the evolution of communal identity in the early American backcountry. By focusing on the growth and development of one urban community, this work details not only how and why one group of backcountry inhabitants took pride in their town's outward accomplishments and material prosperity, but also explains how Carlisle's evolutionary growth prompted the town's people to see themselves as key players in an economic and social universe that stretched far beyond the geographic boundaries of their localized realm.;Using state and county records, personal correspondence, business account books, and material evidence to delineate expanding networks of association on the local and regional levels, this study demonstrates that it was the combined expectations and aspirations generated by personal interactions and economic exchanges that governed how the men and women of Carlisle defined themselves and their roles within the rapidly changing worlds of colonial, revolutionary, and early national America.;In Carlisle, as in the rest of the American backcountry, communal identity was ultimately determined by the convergence of several competing, but nonetheless complementary, developmental forces. Carlisle's sense of itself was profoundly shaped by the independent and highly localized social, economic, and personal associations forged among the town's men and women in the private sphere of backcountry homes and in the public realm of frontier marketplaces. Carlisle's identity was also derived, however, from the town's gradual social, economic, and cultural integration into the metropolitan realms of the eastern port cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore.



© The Author