Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Nathan Boone and the American Frontier

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Nathan Boone and the American Frontier

Article excerpt

Nathan Boone and the American Frontier. By R. Douglas Hurt. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998. Pp. xii, 256. Preface, epilogue, notes, bibliography, index. $29.95.)

Although Nathan Boone never earned the acclaim that his father enjoyed, he was, in his day, the best known of Daniel Boone's offspring. The youngest of Daniel and Rebecca Boone's ten children, Nathan was a product of the American frontier, and his life's work, as R. Douglas Hurt recounts, contributed to its westward expansion. Born in Kentucky in 1781, Nathan passed a good deal of his boyhood hunting at his father's side. Like his father, he loved the woods and never reconciled to the farmer's life. In 1799 he married and joined his parents in a move to the Spanish-held lower Missouri valley. There Nathan acquired lands and abetted the Americanization of the territory. He also pursued a variety of occupations, including trapping expeditions that took him far beyond the perimeters of white settlement. First as a trapper and later as a soldier, Nathan encountered numerous Indian peoples of the Mississippi and Missouri valleys. Indeed, he spent much of his extended military career dealing with Prairie and Plains Indians.

For the most part, Hurt is very careful in tracing Nathan's life and times, though the book does contain a few errors. Hurt inaccurately asserts, for example, that the Spanish induced Boone and other American settlers to Missouri "to help block British expansion south from Canada" (p. 25). In fact, Spanish authorities felt that the American republic posed the greater threat. Likewise, Hurt mistakenly claims that Shawnee and Delaware refugees in Missouri "had been encouraged to move west by the federal government" (p. 45). The migration of these Ohio Indian villagers, however, had preceded the American purchase, and their invitation to relocate had come from Spanish officials (as part of the same colonizing policy that brought the Boones to Missouri). …

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