American Frontier and Western Issues: A Historiographical Review

By Roger L. Nichols | Go to book overview
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In his 1978 talk to the Western History Association, Rodman Paul could lament that certain groups within the mine labor force were still ignored, such as Spanish-speaking miners and the Irish. Tracing such groups might require knowledge of foreign languages to interpret the as-yet untapped letters, diaries, and newspaper produced by Mexicans, Germans, Swedes, and other non-Englishspeaking residents of the mining camps.

Finally, the flurry of activity into Western mine labor radicalism needs to be directed away from the tantalizing stories of dynamite and deportations to the inner workings of the miners' unions. What stresses and strains were present? How did the lust for gold--present on the American frontiers at least since Columbus' journey to the first frontier--translate into an agenda for a local union in the Rockies?

The rich lodes still remain to be worked.

The 1606 charter and the Franklin statement are quoted in T. A. Rickard, A History of American Mining ( New York: McGraw-Hill, 1932; reprint 1966), p. 2. Smith quote is from John Esten Cooke, Virginia: A History of the People ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1888), pp. 41-42. "Pot-boilers" quote is from Rodman W. Paul, "Mining Frontiers as a Measure of Western Historical Writing", Pacific Historical Review 33 ( February 1964): 28.
Norwegian quoted in Theodore C. Blegen, ed., Land of Their Choice--The Immigrants Write Home ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955), p. 224.
John Walton Caughey, Gold Is the Cornerstone ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1948); Rodman W. Paul, California Gold: The Beginning of Mining in the Far West ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1947); Donald Dale Jackson, Gold Dust ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980).
J. S. Holliday, The World Rushed In--The California Gold Rush Experience ( New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981); John D. Unruh Jr., The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1860 ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1979); Walker D. Wyman, ed., California Emigrant Letters--The Forty-Niners Write Home ( New York: Bookman Associates, 1952); Jay Monaghan, Chile, Peru, and the California Gold Rush of 1849 ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973).
William J. Trimble, The Mining Advance into the Inland Empire ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Bulletin No. 638, 1914; reprint 1972); D. E. Livingston-Little, An Economic History of North Idaho, 1800-1900 ( Los Angeles: Journal of the West, 1965).
Lord Eliot, Comstock Mining and Miners ( Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883; reprint, Berkeley, Calif.: Howell-North, 1959); Dan DeQuille, The Big Bonanza ( Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1876; reprint, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947); Charles Howard Shinn, The Story of the Mine ( New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1910).
Grant H. Smith, The History of the Comstock Lode--1850-1920 ( Reno: Nevada State Bureau of Mines and Mackay School of Mines, 1943; sixth printing 1966).


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