Laws, Courts and Communities in the Pennsylvania Backcountry, ca.1750-1800

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    Abstract

    Historians have commonly portrayed the Pennsylvania backcountry as a lawless, violent region. Many have attributed this these levels of violence to the influx of Scots Irish migrants to the province after the 1720. Examining several eighteenth-century Pennsylvania counties, this article demonstrates that earlier scholars have consistently overestimated levels of crime on the frontier. Moreover, court records shows that Scots-Irish individuals were no more likely to be prosecuted or convicted of crime than other ethnic groups. Overall, frontier settlers embraced the legal system, even as they insisted it be applied in ways that accorded with local conditions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)40-67
    Number of pages28
    JournalJournal of Early American History
    Volume60
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2016

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    Keywords

    • Law
    • Pennsylvania
    • Courts
    • American Revolution
    • Whiskey Rebellion

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