Brittle Thread of Life (The)

Backcountry People Make a Place for Themselves in Early America
Williams, Mark
Date published: 
September 2009

The colonists who settled the backcountry in eighteenth-century New England were recruited from the social fringe, people who were desperate for land, autonomy, and respectability and who were willing to make a hard living in a rugged environment. Mark Williams' microhistorical approach gives voice to the settlers, proprietors, and officials of the small colonial settlements that became Granby, Connecticut, and Ashfield, Massachusetts. These people - often disrespectful, disorderly, presumptuous, insistent, and defiant - were drawn to the ideology of the Revolution in the 1760s and 1770s that stressed equality, independence, and property rights. The backcountry settlers pushed the emerging nation's political culture in a more radical direction than many of their leaders or the Founding Fathers preferred and helped put a democratic imprint on the new nation. This accessibly written book will resonate with all those interested in the social and political relationships of early America.