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American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European, African or American society, although the territory was inhabited by or utilized by Native Americans.
The pioneer concept and ethos greatly predate the migration to the Western United States, with which they are commonly associated, and many places now considered "East" were settled by pioneers from even further east. For example, Daniel Boone, a key figure in American history, settled in Kentucky, when that "Dark and Bloody Ground" was still undeveloped.
One important development in the Western settlement was the Homestead Act, which provided formal legislation for the settlers which regulated the settlement process.
The word "pioneer" originates with the Middle French pionnier (originally, a foot soldier, or soldier involved in digging trenches), from the same root as peon or pawn.In the English language, the term independently evolved a sense of being an innovator or trailblazer. As early as 1664, Englishman John Evelyn used the term with a self-effacing "workman" meaning when he wrote in his treatise on planting, Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees : "I speak now in relation to the Royal Society, not my self, who am but a Servant of it only and a Pioneer in the Works".
Various figures in American folklore and literature typify the pioneer. James Fenimore Cooper's The Deerslayer (1841) became the most successful of his early series, the Leatherstocking Tales, about pioneer life in the Province of New York. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series, published a century later in 1932–1943 but set in the 1870s and 1880s, typified later depictions of pioneer families. Daniel Boone (1734–1820) and Davy Crockett (1786–1836) became two real-life icons of pioneer history.
The first westward migrations occurred as representatives of the Thirteen Colonies sought to open up new lands for their respective colonies westward. Those whose original royal charters did not specify a western limit simply extended their lands directly and indefinitely westward.
After the United States was formed upon the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, federal coordination and legislation began to give settlement a more unified approach.
The Land Ordinance of 1785 was the first official action by the federal government in deciding how political organization of new territories would be handled. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was a major step, declaring that states could not individually claim new lands, but exploration would be handled by the national U.S. government. In the Land Act of 1804, the federal government took its first steps towards legislating the manner in which pioneer lands would be individually claimed and distributed.
Further evidence of the government's involvement in encouraging western settlement was the publication of The Prairie Traveler, published in 1859, three years before the Homestead Act's passage. Randolph B. Marcy, Captain of the U.S. Army was commissioned by War Department to provide a guide for those moving west. It provided not only mileage and stopping points during travel but also gave advice about what to take on the journey, how to interact with Native Americans and also how to respond to threatening situations such as encounters with bears.
There were many other forms of this process, such as land runs including the Land Run of 1889, in Oklahoma, which occurred when parts of the territory of Oklahoma were first opened, allowing anyone to claim land on a first-come, first-serve basis.
As western settlement grew, certain common details began to emerge. Most pioneers traveled in wagon trains, groups of wagons containing settlers and their families. They banded together for common defense and to combine their efforts.
Pioneers in the East often had to clear the land, owing to lush forests there. In the Midwest, the task was to bring agricultural fertility to the Great Plains.
Some pioneers were drawn with the original intent of claiming lands and settling their families. Others were trappers, or others who went west for commercial reasons, and remained there as residents when their businesses proved to be profitable.
The figure of the pioneer has played a large role in American culture, literature and folklore. The pioneer is not the only iconic figure which figures in the settlement of the West. Much cultural note is given to other figures of a more transient nature, such as cowboys, trappers, prospectors, miners etc. However, the pioneer alone represents those who went into unexplored territory in search of a new life, looking to establish permanent settlement.
Various figures in American folklore and literature typify the pioneer. The Deerslayer was the most successful of an early series, the Leatherstocking Tales, about pioneer life in New York. Little House on the Prairie , a century later, typified a later series of novels describing a pioneer family. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett are two real-life icons of pioneer history.
The Oregon Trail was a 2,170-mile (3,490 km) east-west, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail in the United States that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon. The eastern part of the Oregon Trail spanned part of what is now the state of Kansas and nearly all of what are now the states of Nebraska and Wyoming. The western half of the trail spanned most of the current states of Idaho and Oregon.
Daniel Boone was an American pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman whose frontier exploits made him one of the first folk heroes of the United States. Although he also became a businessman, soldier and politician who represented three different counties in the Virginia General Assembly following the American Revolutionary War, Boone is most famous for his exploration and settlement of what is now Kentucky. Although on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains from most European-American settlements, Kentucky remained part of Virginia until it became a state in 1792.
The Northwest Territory, also known as the Old Northwest and formally known as the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, was formed in the United States after the American Revolutionary War. Established in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation through the Northwest Ordinance, it was the nation's first post-colonial organized incorporated territory.
The American frontier includes the geography, history, folklore, and cultural expression of life in the forward wave of American expansion that began with English colonial settlements in the early 17th century and ended with the admission of the areas as states in 1912. This era of massive migration and settlement was particularly encouraged by President Thomas Jefferson following the Louisiana Purchase, giving rise to the expansionist attitude known as "Manifest Destiny" and the historians' "Frontier Thesis".
The Transylvania Colony, also referred to as the Transylvania Purchase, was a short-lived, extra-legal colony founded during 1775 by land speculator Richard Henderson, who controlled the North Carolina-based Transylvania Company. Henderson and his investors had reached an agreement to purchase a vast tract of Cherokee lands west of the southern and central Appalachian Mountains through the acceptance of the Treaty of Sycamore Shoals with most leading Cherokee chieftains then controlling these lands. In exchange for the land the tribes received goods worth, according to the estimates of some scholars, about 10,000 British pounds. To further complicate matters, this early American frontier land was also claimed at the same time by both the Province of Virginia and the North Carolina colony.
The Dominion Lands Act was an 1872 Canadian law that aimed to encourage the settlement of the Canadian Prairies and to help prevent the area being claimed by the United States. The Act was closely based on the U.S. Homestead Act of 1862, setting conditions in which the western lands could be settled and their natural resources developed.
The Ohio Country was a name used in the mid- to late 18th century for a region of North America west of the Appalachian Mountains and north of the upper Ohio and Allegheny Rivers extending to Lake Erie. The area encompassed roughly all of present-day Ohio, northwestern West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and a wedge of southeastern Indiana.
A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established a permanent residence there, often to colonize the area. It is also used to describe people whose ancestors migrated to a new area, or who were born into an already established settler colony.
The Wilderness Road was one of two principal routes used by colonial and early national era settlers to reach Kentucky from the East. Although this road goes through the Cumberland Gap into southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee, the other is sometimes called the "Cumberland Road" because it started in Fort Cumberland in Maryland. Despite Kentucky Senator Henry Clay's advocacy of this route, early in the 19th century, the northern route was selected for the National Road, connecting near Washington, Pennsylvania into the Ohio Valley of northern Kentucky and Ohio.
The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of five novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, set in the eighteenth century era of development in the primarily former Iroquois areas in central New York. Each novel features Natty Bumppo, a frontiersman known to European-American settlers as "Leatherstocking", "The Pathfinder", and "the trapper". Native Americans call him "Deerslayer", "La Longue Carabine", and "Hawkeye".
The Bozeman Trail was an overland route connecting the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. Its most important period was from 1863–68. Despite its name, "the major part of the route in Wyoming used by all Bozeman Trail travelers in 1864 was pioneered by Allen Hurlbut". Many miles of the Bozeman Trail in present Montana followed the tracks of Bridger Trail, opened by Jim Bridger in 1864. The flow of pioneers and settlers through territory of American Indians provoked their resentment and caused attacks. The challengers to the route were newly arrived Lakotas and their Indian allies, the Arapahoe and the Cheyenne. The United States put emphasis on a right to "establish roads, military and other posts" as described in Article 2 in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. All parties in the conflict had signed that treaty. The Crow Indians held the treaty right to the contested area and had called it their homeland for decades. They sided with the whites. The U.S. Army undertook several military campaigns against the hostile Indians to try to control the trail. Because of its association with frontier history and conflict with American Indians, various segments of the trail are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
George (Washington) Bush was an American pioneer and one of the first African-American non-Amerindian settlers of the Pacific Northwest.
The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land rush into the Unassigned Lands. The area that was opened to settlement included all or part of the Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the US state of Oklahoma. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km2).
The Connecticut Company or Connecticut Land Company (e.-1795) was a post-colonial land speculation company formed in the late eighteenth century to survey and encourage settlement in the eastern parts of the newly chartered Connecticut Western Reserve of the former "Ohio Country" and a prized-part of the Northwest Territory)—a post-American Revolutionary period region, that was part of the lands-claims settlement adjudicated by the new United States government regarding the contentious conflicting claims by various Eastern Seaboard states on lands west of the gaps of the Allegheny draining into the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Under the arrangement, all the states gave up their land claims west of the Alleghenies to the Federal government save for parts parceled out to each claimant state. Western Pennsylvania was Pennsylvania's part, and the Connecticut Western Reserve was the part apportioned to Connecticut's claim. The specific Connecticut Western Reserve lands were the northeastern part of the greater Mississippi drainage basin lands just west of those defined as part of Pennsylvania's claims settlement.
The frontier myth or myth of the West is one of the influential myths in American culture. The frontier is the concept of a place that exists at the edge of a civilization, particularly during a period of expansion. The American frontier occurred throughout the 17th to 20th centuries as European Americans colonized and expanded across North America. This period of time became romanticized and idealized in literature and art to form a myth. Richard Slotkin, the foremost scholar on the subject, defines the myth of the frontier as "America as a wide-open land of unlimited opportunity for the strong, ambitious, self-reliant individual to thrust his way to the top."
Avery's Trace was the principal road used by settlers travelling from the Knoxville area in East Tennessee to the Nashville area from 1788 to the mid-1830s.
The Prairie: A Tale (1827) is a novel by James Fenimore Cooper, the third novel written by him featuring Natty Bumppo. His fictitious frontier hero Bumppo is never called by his name, but is instead referred to as "the trapper" or "the old man." Chronologically The Prairie is the fifth and final installment of the Leatherstocking Tales, though it was published before The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841). It depicts Natty in the final year of his life still proving helpful to people in distress on the American frontier. The book frequently references characters and events from the two books previously published in the Leatherstocking Tales as well as the two which Cooper wouldn't write for more than ten years. Continuity with The Last of the Mohicans is indicated by the appearance of the grandson of Duncan and Alice Heyward, as well as the noble Pawnee chief Hard Heart, whose name is English for the French nickname for the Delaware, le Coeur-dur.
Nathaniel "Natty" Bumppo is a fictional character and the protagonist of James Fenimore Cooper's pentalogy of novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales.
Westward Ho the Wagons! is a 1956 American western film, produced by Walt Disney Productions. Based on Mary Jane Carr's novel Children of the Covered Wagon, the film was produced by Bill Walsh, directed by William Beaudine, and released to theatres on December 20, 1956 by Buena Vista Distribution Company. The film stars Fess Parker, Kathleen Crowley, Jeff York, Sebastian Cabot, David Stollery, and George Reeves.
In the American Old West, overland trails were built by pioneers and immigrants throughout the 19th century and especially between 1829 and 1870 as an alternative to sea and railroad transport. These immigrants began to help colonize much of North America west of the Great Plains as part of the mass overland migrations of the mid-19th century. Settlers emigrating from the eastern United States were spurred by various motives, among them religious persecution and economic incentives, to move to destinations in the far west via routes including the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail. After the end of the Mexican–American War in 1849, vast new American conquests again enticed mass immigration. Legislation like the Donation Land Claim Act and significant events like the California Gold Rush further lured people to travel overland to the west.