At the Crossroads

Indians and Empires on a Mid-Atlantic Frontier, 1700-1763
Jane T. Merritt
Paperback price: $42.50
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: OIEAHC
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 03/2003
Pages: 352
Paperback ISBN: 9780807854624
Paperback Publication Date: 03/2003
Ebook ISBN: 9780807899892


Examining interactions between native Americans and whites in eighteenth-century Pennsylvania, Jane Merritt traces the emergence of race as the defining difference between these neighbors on the frontier.

Before 1755, Indian and white communities in Pennsylvania shared a certain amount of interdependence. They traded skills and resources and found a common enemy in the colonial authorities, including the powerful Six Nations, who attempted to control them and the land they inhabited. Using innovative research in German Moravian records, among other sources, Merritt explores the cultural practices, social needs, gender dynamics, economic exigencies, and political forces that brought native Americans and Euramericans together in the first half of the eighteenth century.

But as Merritt demonstrates, the tolerance and even cooperation that once marked relations between Indians and whites collapsed during the Seven Years’ War. By the 1760s, as the white population increased, a stronger, nationalist identity emerged among both white and Indian populations, each calling for new territorial and political boundaries to separate their communities. Differences between Indians and whites–whether political, economic, social, religious, or ethnic–became increasingly characterized in racial terms, and the resulting animosity left an enduring legacy in Pennsylvania’s colonial history.

About The Author

Jane T. Merritt specializes in early American History from an Atlantic World perspective. In particular, she has written on eighteenth century Native American encounters in the mid-Atlantic region and is currently exploring the development of consumer markets, British imperial policy, the cultural life of the American colonies, and the emergence of the United States as a commercial empire through a study of the tea trade.


Honorable Mention, Berkshire Conference First Book Prize, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (2003)


“Provides disciplined historical coverage. . . . Should stand as a model of . . . historical representation.”–Eighteenth-Century Studies

“A compelling look at life in the fractured and often fractious world of frontier Pennsylvania. . . . [An] extensive and impressive discussion of the rise of nationalism and the pull of empire.”–Journal of Colonialism and Colonia History

“This well-researched book uses sophisticated analysis and innovative sources to tell an old story in a new and exciting way. The author is especially strong in telling the personal reality of this struggle.”–Choice

“A work that will stand as a rich contribution not only to several lively schools of work–on memory and history, gender, language, Native American syncretic religion, race, and nation–but also to the burgeoning body of innovative scholarly work on the middle ground of Native American relations with Euramericans in the mid-Atlantic region and the Ohio Valley.”–American Historical Review

“Merritt’s study is enhanced by the clearest of maps and the most relevant of illustrations. Her work in German-language sources and Moravian records will add tremendously to scholarly understanding of Pennsylvania’s backcountry. Merritt’s work goes beyond a consideration of events; she successfully incorporates an analysis of dreams, language, and images to summon up a compelling vision of frontier life.”–Historian

“Compelling. . . . Merritt has breathed fresh life into this sad story, in a book that every specialist will want to read.”–Journal of American Ethnic History

“Merritt’s At the Crossroads completely reframes the history of the mid-Atlantic frontier. Her exhaustively researched, well-written, and cogently argued book portrays better than anything to date the human reality of cultural interaction and accommodation, religious faith, and frontier violence. . . . This superb book deserves to be widely read and certainly cannot be ignored by serious scholars of early America.”–Journal of American History

“An ambitious book that should interest all early American scholars working on such topics as colonialism, race, gender, cultural change, religion, or trade-in short, just about everyone in the field.”–William and Mary Quarterly

“This ‘must-read’ book presents a pattern of interaction between Indians and Whites that could be easily applied to other areas of North America. It also draws a very sophisticated picture of intercultural relations.”–American Studies

“A worthwhile read for anyone interested in Native American history, or the history of the Mid-Atlantic colonies. It is smoothly written and engaging, providing rich textual material and insightful analysis. . . . Provides intriguing new possibilities for the study of European-Indian relations.”–Reviews in American History

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