History ETDs

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During the first two decades of his remarkable forty-six years of military service, from 1827 to 1848, Philip St. George Cooke literally crossed the continent as a member of the United States Army and contributed significantly to the establishment of the nation as a continental empire. Initially as a member of the Sixth Infantry, and more prominently as an officer in the elite First Regiment of United States Dragoons, Cooke participated in the vital missions conducted by the frontier army to secure the nations claims to its western territories. He explored the frontier, gathered information on its resources and inhabitants, built roads and military posts, policed settlements and Indian societies, and guarded the country's western borders. In the process, Cooke aided the army's efforts to establish foundations for western infrastructure; improved lines of travel, communication, and commerce; implemented and enforced government policies throughout the region; and ensured peace along the nation's western borders. By showcasing Cooke's participation in these and other missions, this dissertation demonstrates the importance of the frontier army to the spread of American sovereignty over the trans-Mississippi West. Most importantly, however, the dissertation uses Cooke's early career to counter the popular notion that the army's primary function on the frontier was to combat native resistance to western expansion. Instead, it highlights the frontier army as an institution that performed public works on behalf of the American people.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ball, Durwood

Second Committee Member

Connell-Szasz, Margaret

Third Committee Member

Edmunds, R. David



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