WITH DANIEL BOONE THRU THE WILDERNESS (1926)

Sound Bites
 

D. Boon kilt a bar.
Carved inscription on thousands of trees in 19th century American forests
 

It was too crowded back East.  I had to have more elbow-room.
Daniel Boone
Quoted by Marshall William Fishwick, American Heroes: Myth and Reality
 

Let the girls do the spelling, and Dan will do the shooting.
Squire Boone, Daniel Boone’s father
Quoted by Fishwick
 

There is a kind of moral sublimity in the contemplation of [early pioneers].  They tend to reinspire something of that simplicity of manners, manly hardihood, and Spartan energy and force of character which forms so conspicuous a part of the nature of the settlers of our western wilderness.
Timothy Flint
 

Such were the truth, simplicity, and kindness of [Boone’s)]character, there can be but little doubt, had the gospel of the Son of God been proposed to him, in its sublime truth and reasonableness, that he would have added to all his virtues, the higher name of Christian.
Timothy Flint
 

To Timothy Flint… history was a means of conveying moral ideas and edifying stories, not a scientific recounting of past events.
Marshall William Fishwick
 

Only by asking the tough questions and demanding accountability can a nation hope to correct its past wrongs, learn from its mistakes, and prevent similar injustices from occurring again.  This process must begin by taking a new, more responsible look at history.  Only when the “facts” are gathered from every possible perspective can one begin to truly comprehend history and its importance.
Matt Sparks
Issue Essay Paragraph #4
 

I can write nothing so long as I fear there is a fact, no matter how small, as yet ungarnered.
Lyman C. Draper, early Boone archivist and biographer
Quoted by Fishwick
 

…Inherent distortions in “historical” films are inspired by the myths perpetuated by the self-serving ruling class and must be exposed.  If they are left unexposed, anyone who believes in those stories is unconsciously buying into ethnocentric and colonial ideologies that have caused oppression, genocide, and complete cultural eradication all too often in the planet’s history.  This is not a good thing.  America is supposed to be the land of freedom and equal opportunity.  Where is the freedom in taking land from indigenous people?  Where is the equality in making oppressing film after oppressing film?  New films must be made to retell old stories in more responsible ways.  Textbooks must be rewritten to include multiple perspectives and tell a more complete story.  People must be made aware of the far-reaching implications of their seemingly-simple beliefs and stories. Children must be taught to question the stories told in both the written and visual media.
Matt Sparks
Issue Essay Paragraph #20
 

Who or what Daniel Boone really was is less important than the way later generations constructed him to satisfy their cultural and ideological needs.
J. Gray Sweeney
 

Boone still figures as a buckskin-clad man of legendary proportion who sprang, carrying a Kentucky rifle, from the forests of the frontier.  Like their nineteenth-century predecessors, twentieth-century historians portray their subject as Indian fighter and patriot, as exemplar of backwoods culture, and as central to an American mythology.
Daniel J. Herman
 

Diagnosis may be simple, but remedy is never easy.  Awareness is the key.  As more people become more aware of the half-truths, distortions, injustices, and outright oppressions occurring in the world today, the future will become less of a variable.  Americans can gain conscious control of their future, making choices that will allow for freedom and equality, for spiritual growth and renewal.  A nation cannot learn from its own mistakes unless and until those mistakes are admitted and reconciled.  That process must start now.  America is redefining itself once again as the new millennium rolls in.  Hopefully, this time around everybody will be well-represented in that definition.
Matt Sparks
Issue Essay Paragraphs #23-24
 

A careful reading of the literature suggests that Boone’s chivalry, composure, decisiveness, and ceaseless migrations made him the prototype for an increasingly atomistic, commercial, mobile society.
Daniel J. Herman
 

Long ago, stories and lessons were passed down through the generations in family gatherings around campfires.  For better or for worse, television has become the modern campfire (Walsch).  Television and its close cousin, cinema, teach modern children much of what they know about society, history, how to communicate, and how to interact with others.  Most importantly, this omnipresent medium gives children the power of judgment, teaching them right from wrong and good from bad.  What goes into the TV goes straight into the minds of the populace.  That is why it is of utmost importance to make sure that:
A.  Americans are made aware of the injustices existent in years and films past
and
B.  Extreme care is exercised by filmmakers to be as historically accurate and responsible as possible.
Matt Sparks
Issue Essay Paragraph #21
 

Had he lived even twenty years earlier, Boone might likewise have seemed more rogue than hero. Boone was literate, but barely, and he refused the settled, predictable life of farming, preferring to live like an Indian, hunting and exploring the continent’s interior.  Boone even looked like an Indian; he dressed his hair with bear grease and wore it “plaited and clubbed up,” and cloaked himself in black deerskins.
Daniel J. Herman
 

[Boone stood] immeasurably above…the wretched class of men…endemic to frontiers.
W.H. Bogart
 

Many heroic actions and chivalrous adventures are related of me which exist only in the regions of fancy
Daniel Boone
(Quoted by Bogart in Daniel Boone, and the Hunters of Kentucky)
 

[Boone] was fed, not upon the “wolf’s milk” -- but upon the abundance of wild and serene nature -- upon the delicious esculence of her forest game, and fruits of her wild luxuriant vines.
Charles Wilkins Weber
 

The wilderness masters the colonist.  It finds him a European in dress, industries, tools, modes of travel, and thought.  It takes him from the railroad car and puts him in the birch canoe.  It strips off the garments of civilization, and arrays him in the hunting shirt and moccasin.
Frederick Jackson Turner
 

Possessing a body at once powerful, compact, and capable of tremendous activity and resistance when roused, a clear eye and a deadly aim, taciturn in his demeanor, symmetrical and instinctive in understanding, Boone stood for his race, the affirmation of that wild logic, which in times past had mastered another wilderness and now, renascent, would master this, to prove it potent.
William Carlos Williams
Quoted by Fishwick
 

It is vital that the past is studied and understood, but that pales in comparison to the importance of the present moment.  What is occurring now?  What do people believe now?  What choices are being made now?  This is important because what is happening now dictates what will happen next.  Building a fully-educated world where people live harmoniously with each other and the environment is more than just a pipe dream.  It can and will happen, but much work needs to be done today for that to become a reality.  That means each and every individual must take responsibility for even the most far-reaching effects of their actions and attitudes.  It means history classes that teach more than a few pre-selected facts and films that admit that there may be more than one side to every story.
Matt Sparks
Issue Essay Paragraph #22
 

An apt epitaph for Boone is Mark Twain’s last line of Huckleberry Finn:  “But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and civilize me, and I can’t stand it.”  So had Daniel.
Marshall William Fishwick
 
 

Copyright © 2000 by Matt Sparks, Undergraduate at Lehigh University

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