(November 2 [O.S.
October 22] 1734 – September 26 1820) was an American pioneer
whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes
of the United States
. Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now the U.S. state of Kentucky
, which was then beyond the western borders of the Thirteen Colonies
. Despite resistance from American Indians
, for whom Kentucky was a traditional hunting ground, in 1775 Boone blazed the Wilderness Road
through the Cumberland Gap
and into Kentucky. There he founded Boonesborough
, one of the first English-speaking settlements beyond the Appalachian Mountains
. Before the end of the 18th century, more than 200,000 people entered Kentucky by following the route marked by Boone.
Boone was a militia officer during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), which in Kentucky was fought primarily between settlers and British-allied American Indians. Boone was captured by Shawnees in 1778 and adopted into the tribe, but he escaped and continued to help defend the Kentucky settlements. He was elected to the first of his three terms in the Virginia General Assembly during the war, and fought in the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782, one of the last battles of the American Revolution. Boone worked as a surveyor and merchant after the war, but he went deep into debt as a Kentucky land speculator. Frustrated with legal problems resulting from his land claims, in 1799 Boone resettled in Missouri, where he spent his final years.
Boone remains an iconic, if imperfectly remembered, figure in American history. He was a legend in his own lifetime, especially after an account of his adventures was published in 1784, making him famous in America and Europe. After his death, he was frequently the subject of tall tales and works of fiction. His adventures—real and legendary—were influential in creating the archetypal Western hero of American folklore. In American popular culture, he is remembered as one of the foremost early frontiersmen, even though the mythology often overshadows the historical details of his life.