Out on the Edge
By the mid-eighteenth century, Europeans had pushed indigenous people back from the Atlantic coast of North America. Along tense borders in the backcountry, Native Americans recognized the inevitable consequence of the Europeans’ appetite for land and tried to navigate a path to their own survival amidst Old World struggles for trade, territory, and power.
Daniel Boone was fifty in 1784 when John Filson’s book made him into a frontier legend. Filson portrayed Boone as an archetypal pioneer, bringing civilization to the wilderness of Kentucky—a view probably at odds with that of the native Shawnee. Filson lacked the woodsman’s skills of his fellow land speculator, but his pen led far more people to make the trek through the Cumberland Gap.