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Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains

Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains: Exploring the Origins of Appalachian Stereotypes

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains
    Book Description:

    Most Americans know Appalachia through stereotyped images: moonshine and handicrafts, poverty and illiteracy, rugged terrain and isolated mountaineers. Historian David Hsiung maintains that in order to understand the origins of such stereotypes, we must look critically at their underlying concepts, especially those of isolation and community.

    Hsiung focuses on the mountainous area of upper East Tennessee, tracing this area's development from the first settlementin the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War. Through his examination, he identifies the different ways in which the region's inhabitants were connected to or separated from other peoples and places. Using an interdisciplinary framework, he analyzes geographical and sociocultural isolation from a number of perspectives, including transportation networks, changing economy, population movement, and topography.

    This provocative work will stimulate future studies of early Appalachia and serve as a model for the analysis of regional cultures.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6152-5
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures, Maps, and Tables
    (pp. viii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Framework for Connectedness
    (pp. 1-19)

    THE WORD “APPALACHIA” evokes a host of images and stereotypes involving feuds, individualism, moonshine, subsistence farming, quilting bees, illiteracy, dueling banjos, and many other things. Both complimentary and derogatory images generally arise from two important concepts, namely those of isolation and community. According to John Fox, Jr., a popular American novelist at the turn of the twentieth century, “In the march of civilization westward, the Southern mountaineer has been left in an isolation almost beyond belief. He was shut off by mountains that have blocked and still block the commerce of a century, and there for a century he has...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Perceptions and Self-Perceptions in the Revolutionary Era
    (pp. 20-54)

    THE INHABITANTS in what would become upper East Tennessee were perhaps first described in Appalachian images during the American Revolution. At the battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780, revolutionaries from the mountainous regions of western Virginia and North Carolina (including what is now upper East Tennessee), and northern Georgia destroyed a Tory army from South Carolina commanded by British Major Patrick Ferguson. In order to drive wavering Americans into his Loyalist camp, Ferguson issued the following proclamation on 1 October 1780:

    Gentlemen: Unless you wish to be eat up by an innundation of barbarians, who have begun by murdering...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Early Roads
    (pp. 55-73)

    In the aftermath of the War for Independence and the movement to create a state of Franklin, the inhabitants of upper East Tennessee returned to the more routine concerns of everyday life. The stability of the 1790s fostered regional growth and development. Cabins and farms no longer simply hugged the banks of the Watauga, Holston, and Nolichucky Rivers, for settlers pushed deep into Washington County’s wooded rolling valleys. A rudimentary but vigorously developing road system connected the scattered settlements with one another and to places beyond the county boundaries. The web of roads that developed from 1780 to 1800 describes...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Internal and External Economic Connections
    (pp. 74-102)

    JOHN SEVIER, the first governor of the new state of Tennessee, spoke to the General Assembly in April 1796 about “making a waggon road over what is commonly called the western mountains.”¹ The road would serve the region’s economic needs by following the French Broad River southeast from Greene County and winding through North and South Carolina, where it would connect with routes leading all the way to Charleston. Nearly twenty years earlier, the North Carolina government (under whose jurisdiction this area fell in 1777) ordered a road built in this area because “the Inhabitants of Washington County would derive...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Population Persistence in Washington County
    (pp. 103-127)

    BY THE 1830S, RESIDENTS in upper East Tennessee had developed geographic and economic ties both within the South and to other sections of the United States. These connections, however, did not necessarily mean that the population was mobile. Some of the most powerful portraits of the mountaineers emphasize that they stayed in one place. Recalling the metaphor of running water, John Fox, Jr., wrote that “streams of humanity” had penetrated Appalachia, but “the hills have cut it off from the main stream and have held it so stagnant, that, to change the figure, mountains may be said to have kept...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Railroads in Upper East Tennessee
    (pp. 128-161)

    WHILE THE HIGGINS, Rice, and Sams families acquired and sold land in the southern, most mountainous portion of Washington County, other residents tried to plug into the national network for commerce and communication. Starting in the 1830s with the momentum generated by early efforts at internal improvements, a dedicated group of upper East Tennessee residents organized, promoted, and built the East Tennessee and Virginia Rail Road. Through such efforts, the region established links with the Atlantic coast to the east and with the Mississippi River valley to the west. The effects of such connections, however, were not felt uniformly throughout...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The Creation of Popular Appalachian Images
    (pp. 162-182)

    THE DOCUMENTARY RECORD clearly indicates the motivations and actions taken by the supporters of the railroad movement. The letters, reports, speeches, and newspaper writings of railroad advocates like Lloyd Tilghman, “Selma,” and Samuel B. Cunningham allow us to weigh their opinions and judge the extent of their connections to others. That same documentary record, however, provides only an indirect view of people who did not support the railroad. For a better sense of the outlook and connections of the more locally oriented individuals who lived away from the railroad line—in places like Sams, Rice, and Higgins Creeks—we must...

  12. EPILOGUE: The Implications of Connectedness
    (pp. 183-188)

    During the revolutionary and antebellum periods, Jones-borough served as the economic, social, and political center of Washington County and upper East Tennessee. After the Civil War, however, Johnson City, situated only a few miles to the northeast, began to rise in prominence. When construction of the East Tennessee and Virginia Rail Road extended far enough south from Bristol and the Virginia-Tennessee border, Henry Johnson built a brick storehouse at the junction of the railroad and the stage road. This store became the initial railroad depot in 1857 and subsequently the nucleus of a thriving settlement that would eventually be named...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-217)
  14. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 218-230)
  15. Index
    (pp. 231-239)