French-Speakers, American Citizens: Government, Community, and Survival in the American Illinois Country, 1778-1787
In less than thirty years, the French-speaking inhabitants of the Illinois Country went from French, and then British colonial subjects, to American citizens. This thesis examines that final regime change and the transition to life under the newly formed America republic. It focuses on the French-speaking residents of two middle Mississippi Valley communities, Kaskaskia and Cahokia, as they adapted first to Virginian and then to American jurisdiction. This study begins with George Rogers Clark’s capture of Kaskaskia on July 4, 1778, the first step toward Virginian possession of the Illinois Country, and concludes in 1787, when a plan for American governance of the West was enacted with the proclamation of the Northwest Ordinance. It contends that from 1778 to 1787, French-speaking inhabitants strategically and actively participated in the changing political climate on the American side of the middle Mississippi Valley.
Illinois Country, American Revolutionary War, Middle Mississippi Valley, Kaskaskia, Cahokia, French-Speaking Inhabitants, George Rogers Clark, Virginia, Illinois County, Early Republic, History, Eighteenth-Century, Law, Court Systems, Coutume de Paris, Religion, Catholicism, Frontier, Borderlands, Social Control, Illinois, American Midwest, Strategic Adaptation, Regime Change, Community, Institutions
Master of Arts (M.A.)