The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 19. Kentucky in Fiction
Many novels celebrated Kentucky, which, as the first Western state of the Union, had secured a primacy in romance, between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, that it has never lost. Paulding, Simms, and Bird were chief among those who laid plots there. Bird’s best novel, Nick of the Woods (1837), an exciting tale of border warfare in 1782, is notable for its attempt to correct Cooper’s heroic drawing of the Indian and for its presentation of a type often spoken of in frontier annals, the white man who, crazed by Indian atrocities, gave his whole life to a career of ruthless vengeance. The great romance of Kentucky, however, while perpetuated by no single novel or novelist, centres round the life and character of Daniel Boone, who became, by the somewhat capricious choice of tradition, a folk hero, standing among other pioneers as Leather-Stocking stands among native characters of fiction. A similar, though smaller, fame belongs to David Crockett of Tennessee, who comes somewhat closer to literature by the fact of having written an Autobiography(1834).