Middlefield and the Settling of the New York Frontier : A Case Study of Development in Central New York, 1790-1865

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-08-01
  • Publisher: Square Circle Press LLC

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More than just a mere history of one community, Dominick Reisen's scholarly exploration of Middlefield in Otsego County presents this rural, crossroads hamlet as a case study of the development of small towns in central New York State during the early years of the American Republic, through the Civil War. Reisen tracks the emergence and growth of various businesses and social groups within the community, tracing in great detail the lives of various key figures who made their home in Middlefield. He discusses how external agricultural factors and the great social movements of the era, such as temperance and abolition, impacted their lives inside the hamlet, both economically and socially. Viewing these ambitious personalities through the full spectrum of life, the author reveals how their interconnected lives and businesses led to a degree of prosperity and self-reliance in this secluded frontier settlement. This wide-ranging study's crucial value to historians, however, is the way in which Reisen uses Middlefield to illustrate the development of the entire region of central New York during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He reviews the development of technological achievements such as the Erie Canal and railroads, and explains how these advancements in transportation alternately spurred growth and led to stagnation in various communities. He also provides significant discussion of the unique landownership patterns of central New York and how these arrangements led to social unrest and radical change, resulting ultimately in the Anti-Rent Wars during the second quarter of the nineteenth century.

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