Daniel Boone: An American Life

Daniel Boone: An American Life

Daniel Boone: An American Life

Daniel Boone: An American Life


" The embodiment of the American hero, the man of action, the pathfinder, Daniel Boone represents the great adventure of his age -- the westward movement of the American people. Daniel Boone: An American Life brings together over thirty years of research in an extraordinary biography of the quintessential pioneer. Based on primary sources, the book depicts Boone through the eyes of those who knew him and within the historical contexts of his eighty-six years. The story of Daniel Boone offers new insights into the turbulent birth and growth of the nation and demonstrates why the frontier forms such a significant part of the American experience.


Daniel Boone! The very name evokes and echoes the epic exploration of the American West. Just as the existence of a changing frontier has always exerted a great influence upon the American people, no one, from the time of Capt. John Smith to the present day, is more central to the frontier experience than Daniel Boone. He is commonly regarded as the prototype and epitome of the American frontiersman, a near ideal representative of the westward movement of the nation.

The facts are impressive. Nearly seventy of his eighty-six years involved the exploration and settlement of the frontier. In 1734 he was born on the western perimeter of civilization in Berks County, Pennsylvania. At the age of thirty-one he ventured as far south as Pensacola, Florida, in search of a new home. And when he died in 1820 he was living on the western boundary of civilization in St. Charles County, Missouri, one of the outposts for outfitting expeditions to explore the Rocky Mountains. Boone seemed constantly to place himself upon the cutting edge of civilization’s advance and did so with relish.

Boone also typifies the inner conflict between civilization and the wilderness of many of the early hunter-explorers. He was both the pioneer who paved the way for civilized life and the natural man who preferred the simplicity and rugged vitality of wilderness life as an end in itself. To Boone, the frontier was simultaneously a challenge and an inspiration, something to subdue and improve and to preserve and enjoy.

His paradoxical relationship to the wilderness often accurately reflects a basic and perhaps even stereotypical American attitude toward the frontier. If for Europeans the frontier was a boundary that indicated territorial limits, for Americans of Boone’s day and their descendants, a frontier was more an area that invited and even demanded exploration. The real and continuing desire to penetrate the unknown in quest of new land and wealth motivated discoverers from many nations, but took on renewed . . .

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