Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

The Abraham Lincoln Farm Cabin Myth: Prideful Love for the Kentucky Land in Wars and Poetry

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

The Abraham Lincoln Farm Cabin Myth: Prideful Love for the Kentucky Land in Wars and Poetry

Article excerpt

Kentucky was "discovered" in 1543 by the Spaniards, who with only 350 men led by Luis de Moscoso traveled in 21 boats down the Mississippi river, while they were escaping from the pursuing Native Americans. The land came into the control of the English after Sir Walter Raleigh brought two ships into the region in July of 1584, and chartered Kentucky under the name of "Virginia," at the time, in honor of the virgin Queen Elizabeth. However, this vast "wilderness" was already densely populated by the native, Iroquois, who were hostile to attempts at settlement or trade in this region. In 1684, they entered into one of the first treaties between the "Five Nations" of the Iroquois and Americans, placing "themselves under the protection of the British nation" and making "a deed of sale to the British government of a vast tract of country (which included Kentucky)."1 A few other treaties had to be signed with the Native Americans in the region before it was safe enough for the "first white woman" to enter Kentucky in 1756, Mrs. Mary Inglis. After King's Proclamation of 1763 when King George of England officially claimed the eastern part of the United States for his own, George Washington was among the earliest British explorers, who attempted to discover if Kentucky could be settled between 1770-2. Daniel Boone in 1769 and the Long Hunters led by Colonel James Knox in 1770 went on long game shooting excursions in the Kentucky region, occasionally meeting fatal ends at the Natives' hands. In this period, several maps and surveys were conducted of the region to determine what the best lands were for settlement, hunting and cultivation. Only in August of 1773, did Captain Thos. Bullitt lay out the town of Louisville and begin the official permanent settlement of Kentucky.2 The aggressive sale of land in this region to welcome new settlers began when Colonel Richard Henderson purchased most of Kentucky from the Cherokee, a purchase that was later contested by Virginia, but which allowed for numerous land grants to settlers before such sales were forbidden. The main early wave of settlement began with the establish- ment and fortification of the towns of Boonsborough and Harrodsburg, and these helped to make the migration into the rest of Kentucky safer for new arrivals, in the midst of conflicts with the Natives.

The first account of a substantial farming venture in Kentucky is when in 1775 Simon Kenton built a log cabin and "raised a crop of corn in the county of Mason, near the spot where the town of Washington now stands." He only managed to keep control of this farm for under a year before he had to move to Boonsborough. In the same year, Colonel Benjamin Logan created a fort in Stanford, Lincoln County, and grew corn there with the help of slaves and his family.3 Without farming, it would have been impossible permanently to settle the isolated towns of Kentucky. "From natural circumstances, the new settlers in Kentucky were forced to take up agricultural pursuits, and had it not been for the yield from their early cornfields they would have suffered starvation. Every fort had its cornfield nearby, but destruction of this crop by marauding savages spelled virtual starvation during the winter months. When the Indians were driven back and the frontier had become reasonably safe from surprise raids, families moved out to individual farms in the open country to begin extensive cultivation of various adaptable field crops."4

Corn was the most important early "source of food," and this was later joined by wheat. Rope making out of hemp became a popular industry. The current debate about the legalization of marijuana has made hemp products seem like a new commodity, but hemp has actually been a major cash crop in Kentucky since its inception. "Hemp is the name given to the Cannabis sativa plant when it is cultivated and used in its industrial and textile capacity. Hemp is as integral a part of Kentucky and its history as racehorses and bourbon. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.