Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Paul Royster

Date of this Version



This is an open-access electronic text edition of Filson’s seminal work on the early history of Kentucky, including the first published account of the life and adventures of Daniel Boone. Filson’s work was an unabashedly optimistic account of the western territory, where Filson had acquired large land claims, whose value he sought to enhance by the publication of this advertisement and incitement for further settlement. Scarcely two years after the violent and tragic British and Indian invasion of 1782, Filson portrayed Kentucky as a natural paradise, where peace, plenty, and security reigned. Of some significance is Filson’s recognition that the territory would be economically tied to the West, and especially the river ports of Natchez and New Orleans, rather than the Eastern seaboard. His reflections on the interests of the United States in acquiring and securing the western regions of North America predate the Louisiana Purchase by 18 years.

The work, and especially the narrative of Daniel Boone, proved extremely popular, and was frequently reprinted and translated into French and German. It proved to be the first in a long tradition of rousing Western adventures associated with the westward migration of the Americans.

This edition includes the complete text of the first edition, some notes, a biographical sketch of John Filson, and a discussion of the editorial procedures. It also includes the “Map of Kentucke” published in 1784 along with the book. Two versions (one color, one black-and-white) are attached as supplemental files in PDF format.

Map of Kentucke--BW.pdf (686 kB)
black & white version (PDF)

Map of Kentucke--color.pdf (5103 kB)
color version (large file = 5 Mb)