Cover image for Elusive empires : constructing colonialism in the Ohio Valley, 1673-1800
Elusive empires : constructing colonialism in the Ohio Valley, 1673-1800
Hinderaker, Eric.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xv, 299 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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F517 .H55 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
F517 .H55 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book, first published in 1997, examines the efforts of France, Britain, and the United States to extend imperial dominion over the Ohio Valley, focusing on the relations between Europeans and Indians to tell the story. It treats empires as cross-cultural constructions whose details were negotiated by their participants, not directed from London, Paris, or Philadelphia. Hinderaker argues that three models of empire competed for acceptance in the region: empires of commerce and of land, each of which was attempted by both the French and the British, and an empire of liberty, which grew out of the American Revolution and eventually became the basis for Euro-American occupation of the valley. The result is a fascinating story that carefully considers the wealth of recent scholarship on the West, but simultaneously offers a strikingly new interpretation of the American Revolution and its legacy in the relations between Indians and the new American nation.

Author Notes

Eric Hinderaker is Associate Professor of History at the University of Utah.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Finding Indian social structures in disarray, European and Colonial governments were content with negotiated systems of Western empire rather than those based on complete subjugation of Native Americans. Eventually the British and the French pushed for definitive imperial boundaries. This book covers the interaction of the peoples in the Old Northwest from pre-Columbian times through the early US national period. Hinderaker is at his best in depicting the Ohio Valley and Mississippian Indian cultures and economies, and in contrasting the British/Colonial and French experiences in opening the Ohio Valley frontier. Involvement in trade networks substantially disrupted Indian society and culture. This factor paved the way for land acquisition rather than trade as a priority of American governments. Hinderaker only touches on developments during the Revolutionary War and the postwar period. He argues tenuously for the uniqueness of the pull of love of liberty, localism, and diversity as distinguishing characteristics of early American settlement in the Ohio Valley. On the whole, this work is informative and provocative in interpretation. Undergraduates and above. H. M. Ward; University of Richmond

Table of Contents

Maps and Figuresp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Part 1 Empires of Commerce
1 Networks of Tradep. 3
2 Communities of Exchangep. 46
Part 2 Empires of Land
3 Definitions of Valuep. 87
4 The Alchemy of Propertyp. 134
Coda: The Ohio Valley on the Eve of the Revolutionp. 176
Part 3 Empire of Liberty
5 Land and Libertyp. 187
6 Empire Ascendantp. 226
Epilogue: State Power and Popular Authority in the New American Nationp. 268
Bibliography of Cited Materialsp. 271
Indexp. 287