Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Pennsylvania's northeast frontier---a region embraced by the upper reaches of the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers---was the scene of a bitter and, at times, bloody backwoods dispute. Here Yankees (settlers and speculators holding deeds from Connecticut land companies) fought Pennamites (settlers and landlords who claimed land under Pennsylvania) for land and authority. This contest began in the 1760s and lasted till the first decade of the nineteenth century and, for a time, pitted Connecticut against Pennsylvania in a bitter jurisdictional conflict. This study focuses on the dispute after the revolutionary war when the federal government awarded the contested territory to Pennsylvania and when Connecticut claimants, who became known as Wild Yankees, violently resisted the imposition of Pennsylvania's authority and soil rights.;This study explores agrarian unrest in northeast Pennsylvania and adds to existing backcountry scholarship by demonstrating that the revolutionary frontier was not only the scene of a battle over land and authority but also the locus of a struggle over identity and the definition of local culture. It analyzes how frontier expansion, the Revolution, class conflict, and disputes over property intersected with the daily lives of ordinary men and women by examining the small-scale social networks (family, kin, and neighborhood) that delimitated their lives.;This study makes two closely connected arguments. First, it contends that backcountry inhabitants' local lives---the social relationships, economic networks, and sources of authority that operated on a face-to-face level---framed their aspirations as well as their perceptions of the Revolution and social conflict. This parochial world view, or localism, played an important role in shaping frontier expansion and frontier unrest. Second, it argues that localism, though it had always been present in agrarian society, became a paramount ingredient of identity and ideology in the backcountry between the mid-eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Rapid frontier expansion combined with the Revolution to create a distinct parochial world view among settlers that can best be described as revolutionary backcountry localism .



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