chapter  2
24 Pages

Belief and Identity

Frederick Jackson Turner famously said that American identity was defined by its people's interactions with the frontier. Since then scholars have debated the significance of 'frontiers' and, 'borderlands' in the American psyche. In the 1670s the initial French explorations to find the headwaters of the Mississippi set out from Michigan under Joliet and Marquette. Initially the Carolinians hoped to halt the French development in the area by building rival frontier settlements. Relationships with the local natives were something that had to be addressed immediately on arrival in North America. During the first half of the eighteenth century problems between the Spanish and the British in the southern part of North America were a regular news item on both sides of the Atlantic. William Byrd, one of the colonies' most famous early eighteenth-century authors, wrote about a boundary dispute between Virginia and North Carolina. Instead the complex relationships of the borderlands pitted Englishman against Englishman and against other Europeans and natives.