Daniel Boone Was A Man

By April 11, 2014Blog
Daniel Boone by John James Audubon

Daniel Boone by John James Audubon

“Daniel Boone was a man, yes a big man.” So began the (now not so) famous Ballad of Daniel Boone by legendary Southern actor Fess Parker. Parker portrayed Boone from 1964-1970 on the television series of the same name. It would be impossible to produce that show today. Boone is the antithesis of the modern American man. He hunted. He was an honest, rugged individual, and more importantly a Southerner. He was manly in the way Jefferson described the word in the Declaration of Independence. He was frugal and though it ruined him financially, repaid his debts. He fought American Indians (though he treated them with respect). He served with distinction in the American War for Independence with George Rogers Clark. Such actions don’t make a hero in America any longer. American men are now defined by “Pajama Boy.”

This wasn’t always the case. Americans, both North and South, considered Boone to be the quintessential American man. So did Europeans. Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School of art, dedicated a canvas to him in 1826. Boone was the inspiration for the character Natty Bumpoo (Hawkeye) in James Fenimore Cooper’s Letherstocking Tales. The famous romantic poet Lord Byron made Boone a character in his Don Juan. Southern naturalist John James Audubon went hunting with Boone in Kentucky and later sketched a portrait. Audubon was amazed at Boone’s skill as a hunter and described him as “a stout, hale, and athletic man, dressed in a homespun hunting shirt, bare-legged and moccasined, carried a long and heavy rifle, which, as he was loading it, he said had proved efficient in all his former undertakings, and which he hoped would not fail on this occasion, as he felt proud to show me his skill.” He then blew up a squirrel. PETA probably wants that phrase struck from Audubon’s account.

Boone not only defined the American man, he defined the American spirit, a spirit that was forged by his experiences in the South and the Southern frontier. He always thought of himself as a common American. This is true. The common man in early American history did many extraordinary things. They didn’t wait around for someone to bail them out, blaze trails, or achieve success. Nothing was given to them and they expected nothing less. These were rugged, tough individuals with Southerners setting the standard. By erasing this part of our history, and in particular Southern history, we destroy what made America great. Sadly, that has always been the objective, I think.

Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of six books, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (Regnery History, 2017), 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and Four Who Tried to Save Her (Regnery History, 2016), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He received a B.A. in History from Salisbury University in 1997 and an M.A. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1999. He finished his Ph.D. in History at the University of South Carolina in 2006, and had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student. He lives in Alabama with his wife and three daughters.

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