The Devil's Backbone: Race, Space, and Nation-Building on the Natchez Trace
Abstract: Beginning in Nashville, Tennessee and terminating 444 miles south in Natchez, Mississippi, the Natchez Trace began its existence as a Choctaw and Chickasaw footpath. As white settlers poured into modern-day Mississippi in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the United States sought inroads into these vital American Indian lands for new settlements, mail routes, and other aspects of "... read morecivilization". With them, these settlers—and oftentimes, slave-traders—brought enslaved, black men and women to Mississippi. It was this movement which instigated the Trace's transformation from "pathway" to "road", and signaled its importance as contested territory. Conflicts of race, land commodification, commerce, and slavery played out in the interactions along its length. Through studying the Natchez Trace as an aspect of early American nation building, it is possible to isolate its role in the triangulation of wealth, race, and expansion which would become indicative of the wider patterns of the formation of early America.
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of History.
Advisor: Kendra Field.
Committee: James Rice, and Kerri Greenidge.
Keywords: American history, and African American studies.read less