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Home RuleHouseholds, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier$
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Honor Sachs

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300154139

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300154139.001.0001

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“A Stroke of Manly Courage”

“A Stroke of Manly Courage”

(p.94) Chapter Four “A Stroke of Manly Courage”
Home Rule

Honor Sachs

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the separatist crisis that hit the Kentucky settlements as settlers began to question their place in the new nation. In 1793, Gilbert Imlay published The Emigrants, a novel that chronicled the journey of an English family and their efforts to start a new life on the Kentucky frontier. Two distinct themes pervade Imlay's travelogue in the novel: an impulse for social and political separatism and the manly responsibility to protect women. This chapter considers how conflicts over manhood and national belonging coalesced in separatist plots and talk of disunion during the 1780s and 1790s. In particular, it discusses competing visions of manhood and how western settlers made overtures to foreign powers for protection while articulating a critique of the American state that was contingent on their right to protect their families. It shows that the crisis of leadership in post-revolutionary Kentucky was a reflection of how concerns over household order could transform into issues of national security.

Keywords:   settlements, Gilbert Imlay, The Emigrants, family, Kentucky, frontier, political separatism, manhood, national belonging, disunion

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