Daniel Boone - Preface

Daniel Boone - Preview Image

Portrait of Daniel Boone painted by Chester Harding in 1820.  Image online courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


We have given you
a fine land,
but I believe
you will have much trouble
settling it.

That's what an "old Indian" told Daniel Boone as he handed him the deed to a parcel of Kentucky land. As Boone himself later stated, he lived to prove the Indian right.

As he worked to settle the land, a little-known incident happened that would haunt Daniel Boone for the rest of his life:

  • It was something he never talked about.
  • It was something he did not tell his biographer.
  • It is something that is difficult to learn about today because most of the records were destroyed.

In 1778, Daniel Boone stood trial for treason against the United States.

The trial began on September 28, 1778. It was the first court martial that ever took place in Kentucky. The Revolutionary War was still being fought. At that stage of the conflict, it wasn't clear whether the British or the Americans would win. But some of Boone's fellow officers believed he was on the side of the British.

How did Daniel Boone, an American hero, come to face death by hanging had he been found guilty as a traitor?

To understand the trial, and the charges against him, we have to go back to a time when Kentucky was first settled by colonial Americans. As we peel back time, we have to peel back some of the myths about life during those early days of the American republic.

We also have to peel back some of the myths about Daniel Boone.


Original Release Date:  October, 1999
Updated:  April, 2012

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 3706

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