Why America has Overlooked the Importance of the Boone History By: Ken Kamper
The importance of the 1775-1794 Trans-Alleghany frontier history and Daniel Boone’s involvement in it has generally gone unrecognized, even though it is an important segment of our country’s history that tells the story of America’s westward movement from the east coast to west of the Mississippi River. Without this chapter of our history, the America of today would probably be a much smaller nation. Most likely the English colonial region, settled only to the east of the Appalachian Mountains prior to the frontier movement, would not have extended west, or certainly not at the time that it did, to form the United States west of the mountains.
The Boone-related frontier history approximates in importance the Revolutionary War and the Louisiana Purchase. Each brought large tracts of land into the United States. The Revolutionary War allowed for the creation of the United States east of the Appalachians, the Boone-related frontier and frontier war allowed for the inclusion of the region westward to the Mississippi River, and the Louisiana Purchase added the region west to the Rocky Mountains. Perhaps the discrepancy in perceived importance is because the Revolutionary War and the Louisiana Purchase were events recorded in a well-defined trail of documentation. On the other hand, the opening of the frontier of Boone’s time was an incremental movement, with little easily accessible documentation. The frontier movement was a change that took place in America: not by a government but by a few citizens leading the way, followed by a massive shift westward of the country’s population. The Boone-related frontier that opened up the wilderness for white settlement allowed for the connection of the other two main events.
The importance of the Boone period frontier was totally overlooked by American’s scholars until the essays of Frederick Jackson Turner were published starting in 1893, soon followed by Theodore Roosevelt’s book, The Winning of the West – Vol. 1. In 1894. These were quickly followed by writings of many scholars who were influenced by the sudden awareness of the frontier. They pointed out, usually with Daniel Boone as the leading figure, that the opening of the frontier was a main reason why America quickly expanded westward and developed into the greatest country on earth. Unfortunately, this important revelation that surfaced in the early 1890’s, and resulted in instilling the importance of Daniel Boone into the minds of Americans, disappeared again when America’s modern history scholars diverted our attention to other directions.
The fact remains that Daniel Boone is much more important than modern history writers have presented. That is the reason why, what we present in the Research Letters is so important. In Missouri, much of the Boone period history (the territorial period) is absent from school textbooks as well as from Library shelves. Even though some excellent efforts have been written in the last twenty years or so, that knowledge has not been presented in a manner to filter down to the general population. Much more research and more meaningful ways of presentation still need to be accomplished and made available to the public. This is true of other states in the east, where the Trans-Alleghany frontier history has been barely covered. Even in Kentucky, where everyone seems to take their Boone frontier history seriously, it is amazing the amount of new and important material that can still be uncovered, as persons such as Neal Hammon and a few of Neal’s fellow history scholars have proven. Without that digging, much of the eastern frontier documentation and material that has been found, would never have been found and many important parts of our country’s history would remain lost forever.
Note: We will expand on the importance of the frontier as defined by Frederick Jackson Turner and Theodore Roosevelt in one of our future Research Letters.