How the West Was Lost Stephen Aron’s book How the West Was Lost gives a complex and yet insightful view of the transformation of the Western Frontier and the role Kentucky placated on Americas expansion. Aron agrees with in Frederick Jackson Turner’s view of Kentuckys significance in the westward expansion of America. Aron starts off with “the world of Daniel Boone gave way to that of Henry Clay. “l; this sets the stage with Aron showing a link from one way of life to the transformation to the next stage of the transformation of life for Kentuckians and the transformation of Kentucky herself.
Aron shows the disappearance of ways of life and the becomings from the frontier to a borderland to settled community. Aron focuses on the relationship of Kentucky with Daniel Boone and Henry Clay showing that they were a catalytic force that forever shaped the path for Kentucky. Kentucky was an “unparalleled hunting ground “2, as explained by Aron. If you look back further into time, and remember another reading we did, Cronon, in Changes in the Land wrote a similar context to the views of New England.When the colonists came over they were astonished with the “merchantable commodities”3. The backcountry was geographically recognizable area of the frontier. The backcountry as Aron writes his insights in the book How the West Was Lost, shows us this backcountry was an area that transitioned by society to become a valuable part of American westward expansion.
Native Americans were a key factor in development of the backcountry history, with the frontier being exposed and trafficking hunters, traders and white settlers.The backcountry had played a strong hand in with the Native American, as Aron states as “a meeting of hunters” 4 ;these cultures interactions and trade played an important role in the future of Kentuckys aradise being lost and changed forever. The earlier migrants to the backcountry originally adapted to the Native Americans ways and customs; which evoked bad views of Anglo-America in regards to the new inhabitants.
These hunters left what they considered civilization; to become hunters of the backwoods in the Greater Pennsylvania area and were deemed” lowest Pack of Wretches” 5.Aron shows that the backcountry inhabitants used hunting as a supplement to their agriculture production. The Elites looked up on the using of Indian ways of hunting and agriculture, as below civilized society. To the settlers of the backcountry this was Just a mixed of their cultural world, where there was an exchange between Native Americans and settlers in economic goods as well as furs that they both trapped. Even though they both shared this commonality with economically advanced both of them; with this advancement became conflict with eastern proprietors and landowners over property rights.In the Ohio Valley whites and Indians were both set on gaining control of the trans-Appalachian frontier for the land “a collection of game the like of Kentucky, remarked one astounded trader ‘is not to be seen in any part of he known world” 6Aron shows the Native American, the original white hunters, and settlers in the Ohio Valley how they at first coexisted by then grew and drew apart. Acquiring land seems to be a driving force with this action and reaction. Acquiring land was complex and difficult to legally keep it.
A clash of control of the trans- Appalachian frontier involved Indians, whites, and the classes of speculators and the went forth on the land with disregard to the Indians and the elites. The backcountry became a warzone, since officials were unable to control neither backcountry hunters or the Indian hunters. All were strong arming each other for control for personal gain of what the land had to offer. With the rise of economic stability in the backcountry, along with the influx of population the question of “rights of the woods” came into play.
Conflict became about when the settlers claims were in deed violations of wealth land speculators property deeds which they held, and hence stated they had no claim to the land 7. In regards to successfully privatizing of the land in Kentucky ,and the end of communal property for settlers to have their livestock roam on, instilled in people to se of the plantation system for crops and it began in the Bluegrass area of Lexington.A lot of Kentuckians along with Daniel Boone lost their land, by the spectators and the elites; which dreams of Kentucky being sought after as the poor man’s county; the state laid ways to politicians, lawyers, industrial agriculture, slavery, and Henry Clay.
The inevitable maturing of the frontier lands of Kentucky ended up displacing the hunters of both settlers and Indians alike while ruining the lands. The devastation of wildlife and the rise of economic stability along with slavery and the tobacco crops, doomed the hunting way of life.Henry Clay, as Aron portrays as a manipulator, had envisions plans for the frontier land and was in a place of power to influence his vision. According to Aron, Henry Clay created his vision of what was called Bluegrass System. At this time, the plantations dominated the states politics which the politicians were in power to promote industry. Clays’ influenced and inspired politicians and elites to want sponsored industry.Now with the displacement yet again of the Native American Indians, the politicians and elites began the privatization of natural resources and struck down laws upon the riminals of the woods, as they called them.
This lead to the long hunters’ world to close its door, and lay in defeat with these politicians and elites was the dismay of Daniel Boone. While Clays’ privatization and use of slavery, shaped and transformed Kentucky to a new economic level; the lure of profitability of agriculture was something the elites could not pass up.The Bluegrass system took to the borders and spread throughout the state to Green River. The Green River was land that the less than elite and the poorer settlers migrated to be away from the control and developing factors of the Bluegrass elitists. Inevitable, change does end up happening and Clays’ vision and influence spread regardless of their needs and wants. After the fall of the backcountry settlers; that Kentucky’s economy shifts to an agricultural driven economy. This was driven by their reliance on slavery.
Originally in the Bluegrass Region, landowners replaced tenant farmers with slaves to work their fields. Henry Clay, as Aron sheds his views on, becomes a catalyst in slavery as Clay promotes “the spirit of gain”8. With Clay being catalysts of slavery, Kentucky’s economy incorporated slavery and the crops changed to tobacco. In turn this took Kentucky to new levels, and left behind the backcountry to create a state that could compete in the production of tobacco. The Bluegrass System was one of a political economy for Kentucky as a whole.Clay only took into account for the interest of the and the Lexington elite embellished in the spread of slavery in the 1800s which also spread to the Green River Region. Once slavery was incorporated in the Green River Region, Clay and other elites instilled the planter classes and the Bluegrass System which encompassed manufacturing, which in turn shifter Kentucky growths to a major part of the United States, in the next few coming decades.
Aron’s How the West Was Lost really shows the possibilities the backcountry lost.Aron shows that a more equal society and more social order of the backcountry were indicative to the instrumental transformation to the Kentucky of Clays era. A Kentucky that was based on slavery, economical commerce, and agriculture. The world of Kentucky that was originally created by contraction and adaptation between Euro-Americans and Indians; in turn heeded to a land of wealth, greed, industrialism, and slavery and left the prior frontier years of Kentucky to exist no more. Transformation of Kentucky is summarized by the opening to a passage of a kingdom f a frontier, pioneer by Daniel Boone.In the elites and politicians eyes Daniel Boone represents the American relationship to the Native Americans savagery; by use of native culture and the uncivilized coexistent in the wilderness.
While Kentuckys frontier closes with the strong runner and visionary Henry Clay; who represented elite civilization and American democracy9. 1 . Aron, Stephen. How the West was lost. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. , p.
1 2. p. 1 Aron 3.
p. 6 Aron 4. Cronon, William. Changes in the land. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983, p. 20 5.
p. 14 Aron 6. p.
13 Aron 7. p. 126 Aron 8. p. 149 Aron 9. p. 26 Aron