Daniel Boone – Founding Father on the Frontier
Daniel Boone is known to many us as the man who blazed a trail through the Cumberland Gap and opened the west to settlement. What is often overlooked is his adventures coincided with the American Revolution.
Trapper and Soldier
Daniel Boone was born into a Quaker family in Pennsylvania but moved to the frontier of North Carolina as a 16-year-old.
Boone married and began a career as a hunter and fur trapper. He excelled at this work, securing a modest income.
Daniel also spent time serving in the French and Indian War. This would begin a long, conflicted relationship between he and the Native Americans. It was also during this War that he would hear stories of the land west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
In his 30’s, Boone took longer and longer trips further and further west. He explored the region of what is now known as Kentucky and, eventually, led a group of fifty settlers there to start a community.
In 1775 (as the delegates were assembling to meet in the Second Continental Congress), Boone was hired to build a road through the Cumberland Gap. This Wilderness Road was perhaps his greatest contribution to the creation of the United States. It greatly assisted people living in the South to travel west and populate places like Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
While living in Kentucky, Daniel Boone and his companions had a number of run-ins with a variety of Native American Tribes. The First Nations were upset at the loss of the French and Indian War and subsequent influx of white settlers arriving on their lands.
As the American Revolution progressed, Boone took part in many battles and raids on the western front. Additionally, he joined George Rodgers Clark during his missions in the Ohio Valley. Eventually, Boone obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
As the war drew to a close, Boone was appointed as a sheriff and elected to the Virginia General Assembly. He served in Richmond during the end of Governor Thomas Jefferson’s term, and alongside the likes of James Madison and James Monroe.
Boone rose to fame with the publication of John Filson’s book The Discovery, Settlement and present State of Kentucke. This book had an account of Boone’s life based off his interviews with Filson. It is here that Boone developed a reputation as America’s leading frontiersman.
Unfortunately, some poor land speculation left Boone deeply in debt. To avoid his creditors, he relocated to modern day Missouri. At the time, Missouri was under Spanish control. Still, Boone was welcomed by the Spanish and given the role of judge and militia leader for the area.
After the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri became part of America and Boone was forced to repay his debts.
Father of the Frontier
Boone played a major role in Kentucky’s development into a State. When he first came to the area in the 1760’s there were less than 500 white settlers living in the area. By the time Kentucky was admitted as the 15th State in 1792, there were over 200,000 citizens.
Most of Kentucky's residents arrived on Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road.
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For more on Daniel Boone, check out 'The Life and Legend of an American Pioneer.' There is a lot more interesting facts to Boone's life that I just did not have room for in this article. Also, Plain, Honest Men is my book of the month for June 2018. Click the links below to get a copy from our affiliate Amazon and help support the site at no additional cost to you.