Kentucky’s history is an important part of American development because the state lay directly in the path of the great westward movement. It was in Kentucky that the early adjustments to the rigors of frontier life were made. Along the Kentucky River, Daniel Boone and a small band of settlers repulsed British and Indian thrusts to guard the back door of the struggling young nation during the Revolution. Under George Rogers Clark, the Kentuckians even carried the fight to British and Indian concentrations along the Ohio.
Inside fortress walls and crude log cabins, settlers formed a new society, one which was to sweep on over the West to the Pacific in a little more than a century. Their story of pioneering is one of the most exciting in American history.
After the pioneer beginning came the establishment of government. Counties were formed, towns came into being, merchants opened stores, and a stream of back country produce drifted down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to prosperous New Orleans. Schools, churches, and other community organizations were formed. In 1801, pioneers found expression for their pent-up emotions in the great Cane Ridge Revival-an event which marked an important beginning in American life.
Kentucky was not to live in isolation. Its location involved the state in almost every important event in early western history, and most prominent western figures of the day had some association with the new commonwealth beyond the Appalachians.
In the more affluent years of the early nineteenth century, few states exceeded Kentucky in colorful and forceful political and social leadership.
By Thomas D. Clark