Review Of "A Town In-Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, And The Early Mid-Atlantic Interior" By J. Ridner

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From its founding in the 1760s until the early 19th century, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was "in-between." Ridner (Muhlenberg College) argues that the village's location slightly west of the Susquehanna River made it the link between Thomas Penn's desires and the desires of the Indians, then between the frontier and the East, and, finally, as a place for trade, going south to Baltimore, east to Philadelphia, and west to Ohio. Carlisle's economy, resting initially on the fur trade, became a staging area for the British in the French and Indian War; evolved after 1776 as a place to produce war supplies; and ended as an artisan center relying on the grain trade. Scots-Irish dominated the town, with controversies over Native Americans, local authority opposing outsiders, and rich against poor. The people supported the American Revolution, but divided over the Pennsylvania 1776 and federal constitutions. Ridner's thoroughly researched book is most useful for economic history but contains information on many topics: town planning, architecture, roads, Dickinson College, the Whiskey Rebellion. There is little discussion of religion, the family, or culture. Carlisle emerges as a contentious frontier town in which the aspirations of a few to gentility took second place to making money. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.


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