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Janelle Dvorak

De Smet's in South Dakota, Lance.

Thought-provoking hypotheses.

Lance Mannion

Janelle, Yipes! Thanks for the correction. I fixed the post.


Actually, for the libertarian cause, the situation on the frontier was even worse than you paint it. Not only did people bring government with them, but many of the early settlements had their way paved for them by government action - the acquisition of territory through treaty and war, the defense of that territory and the eviction of the nonwhite inhabitants through federal military action, the extension of national transportation networks like the railroads that transported people and goods between city and frontier, the creation of federal land subsidy programs like the Homestead Act, the provision of water and power through elaborate systems constructed by federal engineers, the national grid system that enabled the purchase of lots at a distance and which was laid out by federal surveyors...

I can toss titles at you if you like, but this is the now-accepted narrative of Western history as currently understood. Far from a libertarian fantasy of a wild frontier, the settlement of the West is much more the story of big-government subsidies. As one of the leading historians in the field (Richard White) has noted, "Westerners usually regarded the federal government as they would regard a particularly scratchy wool shirt in winter. It was all that was keeping them warm, but it still irritated them. Westerners, unlike southerners, never actually tried to remove the source of irritation; they were content with complaining."

(Apologies. You inadvertently dropped a coin in my particular academic jukebox, and it doesn't take much to get this song playing.)

joel hanes

Charles Ingalls homesteaded in DeSmet in 1879.
Laura lived there from 1879 to 1890.

The Library of Congress preserves this amazing set of photographs from South Dakota in the 1880s and 1890s.

Note number 36 -- showing a substantial indoor swimming pool ("plunge bath") in Hot Springs SD in the year 1891.

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