Like many Americans, I always considered our country’s ‘pioneers’ the Daniel Boones and Davy Crocketts who led settlers west in covered wagons in the mid 19th  Century. Not so. David McCollough’s book by the name tells the story of our country’s true pioneers who braved the unknown wilderness of the Northwest Territory some seventy years earlier. And the historical glory of the Northwest Ordinance that precipitated this migration is this one sentence:

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.

Thus because all the states in what is now the Midwest outlawed slavery, they would become part of the Union that won the Civil War and ended slavery for the country.

Many of these original pioneers were veterans of the Revolutionary War, names you’ve never heard of like Manassaseh Cutler and his son Ephraim, Ebenezer Sproat, and Rufus Putnam who documented the start of the first pioneers’ journey:

December 31, 1787, Monday, Set out from my own house in Rutland, in the state of Massachusetts, in the service of the Ohio Company for the mouth of the Muskingum River.

The Pioneers by David McCollugh, author of many similarly well researched histories, draws on original documents, and letters written by the pioneers. Twenty-two of them mostly men, crossed the Alleghenies and set up camp on the Ohio River to prepare for their journey west by water. With experienced builders among them, they put together a small flotilla of canoes and flatboats and one large roofed boat and sailed north on the Ohio River. They landed in what is today Marietta, Ohio, making it the first settlement in the new (9/9/1776 United Colonies renamed United States) United States of America.