This Day in History
Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone Born
November 2, 1734

No one was more essentially “popular” than Daniel Boone, who was popular in the sense that he was almost a contrived hero, a symbol of the pioneer, the Indian fighter, the trailblazer. Boone was by no means the “first” person to “discover” the Kentucky country, or to blaze a way through the Cumberland Gap to the richest empire in the world. But he was the one who caught the popular imagination, not only in America but even in the Old World. Thus, over in England, Lord Byron, seeking a foil to the corrupt “heroes” of the Old World in his epic Don Juan, celebrated the heroism of Boone:

Of the great names which in our faces stare,
The General Boone, back-woodsman of Kentucky
Was happiest amongst mortals anywhere....
Born in Pennsylvania in 1734, Boone lived a long and adventurous life on a succession of frontiers. A hunter at the age of twelve, he served in Braddock’s ill-fated campaign of 1755, and a decade later made his first foray into Kentucky. After a protracted journey to that enchanting land he became an agent of Richard Henderson of North Carolina, who was planting a colony in what was then called Transylvania. It was in that capacity that Boone marked out the “Wilderness Road” and established a series of small settlements, one of them appropriately named Boonesboro.

Captured by the fierce Shawnees in 1778, he was not slaughtered, but adopted by them. Aware that Boonesboro was to be attacked, he managed to escape in time to warn the settlement and to defend it against his attackers. This, more than any other action, made him a folk hero.

November's Archived Features:

Monday November 1, 2021
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All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.