Northeast Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley was truly a dark and
bloody ground, the site of murders, massacres, and pitched battles.
The valley's turbulent history was the product of a bitter contest
over property and power known as the Wyoming controversy. This
dispute, which raged between the mid-eighteenth and
early-nineteenth centuries, intersected with conflicts between
whites and native peoples over land, a jurisdictional contest
between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, violent contention over
property among settlers and land speculators, and the social tumult
of the American Revolution. In its later stages, the controversy
pitted Pennsylvania and its settlers and speculators against "Wild
Yankees"-frontier insurgents from New England who contested the
state's authority and soil rights.
In Wild Yankees, Paul B. Moyer argues that a struggle
for personal independence waged by thousands of ordinary settlers
lay at the root of conflict in northeast Pennsylvania and across
the revolutionary-era frontier. The concept and pursuit of
independence was not limited to actual war or high politics; it
also resonated with ordinary people, such as the Wild Yankees, who
pursued their own struggles for autonomy. This battle for
independence drew settlers into contention with native peoples,
wealthy speculators, governments, and each other over land, the
shape of America's postindependence social order, and the meaning
of the Revolution. With vivid descriptions of the various levels of
this conflict, Moyer shows that the Wyoming controversy illuminates
settlement, the daily lives of settlers, and agrarian unrest along
the early American frontier.
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