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Touted as an American Eden, Kentucky provides one of the most dramatic social histories of early America. In this collection, ten contributors trace the evolution of Kentucky from First West to Early Republic. The authors tell the stories of the state's remarkable settlers and inhabitants: Indians, African Americans, working-class men and women, wealthy planters and struggling farmers. Eager settlers built defensive forts across the countryside, while women and slaves used revivalism to create new opportunities for themselves in a white, patriarchal society. The world that this diverse group of people made was both a society uniquely Kentuckian and a microcosm of the unfolding American pageant. In the mid-1700s, the trans-Appalachian region gained a reputation for its openness, innocence, and rusticity- fertile ground for an agrarian republic founded on the virtue of the yeoman ideal. By the nineteenth century, writers of history would characterize the state as a breeding ground for an American culture of distinctly Anglo-Saxon origin. Modern historians, however, now emphasize exploring the entire human experience, rather than simply the political history, of the region. An unusual blend of social, economic, political, cultural, and religious history, this volume goes a long way toward answering the question posed by a Virginia clergyman in 1775: “What a buzzel is this amongst people about Kentuck?”

“Not only exposes fallacies and gaps in previous research but also presents new findings and draws revisionist conclusions.”—Arkansas Review

“The book is not just for Kentucky history buffs, but anyone interested in knowing what early Kentucky was 'really like.'“—Bourbon Times

“Most readers are sure to find something of interest here and will, at a minimum, come away with an appreciation for the current dynamism of early Kentucky studies.”—Filson Club History Quarterly

“This collection adds considerably to new scholarly literature concerning the settlement of western Kentucky, with the welcome addition of some of the voices silenced in the past.”—H-NET Book Review

The Buzzel About Kentuck renews one's faith in the importance of social history. It will be greeted as a preeminent guide to the most recent work on the social history of frontier and rural American in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”—John Mack Faragher

“Brings into the mainstream of American history many stories that have been untold, and it is an excellent reference book.”—Journal of Illinois History

“Thought-provoking. . . . A collection of fine-grained snapshots of the early social history of the first West and of the first South to the west.”—Journal of Southern History

“In The Buzzel About Kentuck, 10 historians write about the dangers, hardships and uncertainties that befell those people who migrated to Kentucky, beginning in the 1770s.”—Kentucky Monthly

“Readers who want to sample the new history now being written will find this well-edited volume an excellent introduction. It presents perspectives that will be new to many readers.”—Lowell H. Harrison, Bowling Green Daily News

“Much needed and welcome. . . . Paints a picture of the early social history of Kentucky and the trans-Appalachian South that removes ‘the original oils of memory’ from the long, dearly held images of life on the Kentucky frontier.”—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“No other state in the Early American Republic is currently blessed with such a large group of thoughtful and careful historians as Kentucky. It makes a strong case for the proposition that the history of Kentucky is central to any understanding of the history of North America in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.”—Andrew Cayton

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Kentucky, Kentucky history, Frontier life


United States History

The Buzzel About Kentuck: Settling the Promised Land
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