Originally Posted by Midkit
beetle, these words brought one question to my mind. Do you consider the first people coming to the New World (1607, 1620) as Pioneers??? Or are "pioneers" only people migrating to the West in 19th century? And weren't there any explorer in the 17-18 centuries???
Although I would consider them "pioneers", the term has never been associated with the persons who immigrated from Europe to the New World. Other than "colonists" which is of course the basis for references to colonial North America, the only other term I'm aware of which is associated with European immigrants to the New World are "pilgrims", the Puritans and persons of other religious beliefs who departed England to establish new religious communities and homes in the northeast US. Our traditional US holiday of Thanksgiving remembers these "pilgrims" every November.
There were many explorers in 17-18th centuries, especially in regard to Spanish and French (and, of course, English in Canada and the northern US.) They are referred to as "explorers" rather than "pioneers."
It's been my understanding that in regard to the settling of the US, the term "pioneers" pertains to those persons who went west beyond the original 13 colonies (as an earlier poster noted, famous pioneers were indeed men such as Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone) and, after those areas east of the Mississippi became settled, pioneers proceeded west of the Mississippi River to settle the areas of the western US.
That, of course, leads to the famous "Cowboy" era of US history, which really only lasted about 30 years. But gunfighters and the old West has been an enduring characterization of the US.