Ghost Writer To Daniel Boone

John Filson first brought the frontier hero to notice, giving him fine words that made him the idol of the romanticists

 
 

Daniel Boone’s position in the pantheon of American heroes is due probably to merit and certainly to good fortune. The former has been questioned by a few historians; but the latter, although not often recognized explicitly, has never been denied. Although practically an illiterate, Boone told the story of his adventures in Chateaubriand-like prose to Americans and Europeans alike almost as soon as the Indian wars in Kentucky were over.

 
 
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“Surveyor, mountain man, soldier, businessman, wanderer, captain of emigrants, farmer…he was himself the westward-moving frontier.”

In medias res: Fort Laramie on the Oregon-California Trail, June 27,1846, a day of reckoning. Francis Parkman was there, beginning the tour that he would chronicle in The California and Oregon Trail , the Harvard man come out West for health and curiosity, patronizing, disdaining the common emigrants who halted at the fort to tighten their iron tires and recruit their oxen, effusively admiring the stylish Sioux.Read more »

A Michigan Boyhood

SECOND OF FOUR INSTALLMENTS

A FAMOUS HISTORIAN RECALLS THE COUNTRY WHERE HE GREW UP

According to the Bible, a city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid. We used to repeat that text often, and I suppose we were a little smug and self-righteous about it; our city was built upon a hill, and if it was visible to all men it had been meant from the first to be a sign and a symbol of a better way of life, an outpost of the New Jerusalem sited in backwoods vacancy to show people the way they ought to go. To be sure, it was not exactly a city.Read more »