Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness

By John Bakeless | Go to book overview

19.

"Elbow-Room"

KENTUCKY was a confused and puzzled part of the world in the period immediately after the Revolution. In ten breathless bloody years the country had been wrested from the Indians, while the thirteen Colonies were winning their independence from the British. Kentucky had been a wilderness in 1774, with nothing in it but game, wandering Indian hunters, and a few white surveyors. It was still backwoods in the 1790's; but each ship that docked in Philadelphia and Baltimore sent the ripple of white settlement just a little farther into the western wilderness. As the settled portion of new states grew more crowded, men pushed west toward new country that offered land and fortune and that was now safe from the Indians—well, pretty safe.

Backwoods and settlements have never loved each other. Friction between them had helped send Daniel Boone westward into the Dark and Bloody Ground. Now the settled East seemed more preoccupied with its own interests than ever. Was the American government forgetting its western settlements? Why didn't it protect their interests? The British at Detroit clung silently to the fur country which (on paper) they had ceded long ago. The King of Spain closed the Mississippi at New Orleans. What good was the United States government to Kentucky if it let Kentucky be cut off from the sea?

Just what was Kentucky, anyhow? Part of the United States?

-351-

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