James Fenimore Cooper, the novelist of the American frontier, died on this day in 1851. He was brought up on an estate in upper New York state, in what is now the village of Cooperstown, home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cooper is most famous for his five-book cycle known as The Leatherstocking Tales, most especially his masterpiece, The Last of the Mohicans.
The hero of the series is Natty Bumppo, also known as “Deerslayer” and “Hawkeye,” a white man who was adopted by a Native Indian tribe. Bumppo was partly based on the real life figure of Daniel Boone who, like Cooper, had a Quaker upbringing.
Bumppo was the archetypal American individualist and ethical purist who served as the model for generations of cowboy heroes. One critic called him “the Christian knight of medieval romances transposed to the virgin forest and rocky soil of America.”