The pervasive influence of the frontier is fundamental to an understanding of antebellum Florida. James M. Denham traces the growth and social development of this sparsely settled region through its experience with crime and punishment. Using court records, government documents, newspapers, and personal papers, Denham explores how crime affected ordinary Floridians - whites and blacks, perpetrators, victims, and enforcers. He contends that although the frontier determined the enforcement and administration of the law, the ethic of honor dominated human relationships. Although indictments for crimes against persons were far more frequent than those for crimes against property, the punishment for the latter was more severe (except for murder) because such crimes violated the South's cherished code of honor. A sparse, rural agricultural population valued a personal integrity that included a strong sense of economic morality. Honesty and truthfulness were traits not only desired but demanded. Stealing was a violation of that trust and received society's sternest punishment.