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COMMERCE AND ARMS: THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, NATIVE AMERICANS, AND THE ECONOMY OF THE OLD NORTHWEST, 1783-1807

by BERGMANN, WILLIAM H.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation is a study of the changing economy of the Old Northwest for the period following the Revolution until the War of 1812. It examines the role of the federal government in bringing the market economy to the West. This work relies on local and national sources from the United States and Canada to give a fuller picture of the interstices of policy and economy during a critical period in the economic history of the region. This study supports Andrew Cayton’s assertion that the federal government had an important influence on the history of the early West. But whereas his focus is on politics and ideology, this dissertation examines the impact of government on the economy. This study also refutes Eric Hinderaker’s assertion that federal government fostered western growth by not interfering in its economic affairs. Following the Revolutionary War, settlers began to move into the Ohio Valley hoping to transplant a market economy in the West. When they did, they entered into a region largely controlled by the Shawnee, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, Ottawa and others who practiced a semi-subsistence trade economy. The local conflict for economic control of the Ohio Valley manifested itself as a drawn-out property war. This property war ended when Anthony Wayne and his military defeated the northern tribal confederacy and took control of the region’s economy. After Wayne’s victory, the United States built military and post roads, which facilitated the movement of goods and people, and encouraged settlements along specific lines of trade. The federal government also spent great sums of money through the Indian Agency, the factory system and territorial governments to assimilate Native Americans into the American economy by making them European-style farmers. These efforts failed and much of the money ended up in the hands of western traders. By 1807, the western market economy again threatened the productive power of the northern tribes. The Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa helped form a new confederacy by addressing the economic problems many villages faced. The defeat of the confederacy in the War of 1812 removed regional economic control from the hands of the confederacy.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:native americans old northwest economy market trade kentucky ohio indiana united states upper canada

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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