Traditional US history textbooks typically focus on North-South sectionalism, because of the overriding importance of the Civil War. However, students must never forget that other types of regional divisions also seemed quite powerful to American contemporaries, such as East and West, or tidelands and piedmont, or lowlands and backcountry. The idea of the backcountry, in particular, was an especially potent one during the era of the early republic. This was a time of rapidly changing social mores, and vast territorial expansion. And yet it was also a period marked by relative isolation in communications and transportation. Waterways still connected people and places faster than any other means. The result was a society in turmoil as its leaders groped their way toward a new, post-revolutionary stability. Few academic articles capture that moment, or the essence of the backcountry better than Elliott Gorn’s, “Gouge and Bite, Pull Hair and Scratch”: The Social Significance of Fighting in the Southern Backcountry,” which appeared in the American Historical Review in 1985. Gorn depicts a practical orgy of violence through the stories of the rough-and-tumble fighting culture of the Southern backcountry. Students should be able to explain what gouging was and why it was significant. Why would Americans, especially white men in the southern backcountry, engage in such behavior and what does it suggest about their changing culture? Both Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, the two most important American politicians of the mid-nineteenth century, grew up in the backcountry culture dominated by southern plainfolk. How does their background help explain their political success? In an even larger sense, how does the rise and fall of gouging in the backcountry help explain the story of nineteenth-century America? Finally, how does the culture of rough-and-tumble fighting compare to the social dynamics of modern America?