Westward: The Romance of the American Frontier

Westward: The Romance of the American Frontier

Westward: The Romance of the American Frontier

Westward: The Romance of the American Frontier

Excerpt

The heart of the Dakota mining country was Dead- wood, where the houses clung precariously to per- pendicular streets, and the brown and green of the pine trees crowned the unpainted shacks in the little valleys. In Deadwood Mike Russell kept bar, a little Irishman with long, unserried whiskers. Youngsters and women were not allowed in his place. Calamity Jane was the only one of her sex who could get a drink at Russell's bar; she, he said, was the exception that proved the rule.

Such exceptions--Calamity Jane, Simon Girty, Kit Carson, Sam Bass--make good melodrama. Billy the Kid is now in the photoplays, where, so far as I am concerned, he belongs. But in following the history of the American frontier, let us put these noise-makers off by themselves, just as Mike Russell made a separate compartment in his philosophy for Calamity Jane. And without questioning the importance of the West in our national economic history, or the inestimable influence of western votes upon national politics, we may follow in outline the history of the march of pioneers across the American continent. Mr. Claude G. Bowers is welcome to Andrew Jackson if I am allowed to sketch the invasion of the pioneers who made Jackson's election possible.

"Invasion" is not the wrong word: throughout the history of the American frontier is an electric suggestion of advance against opposition, of slugging and shooting, and a grim, merciless conquest. There was opposition indeed --Indians, Frenchmen, and Spaniards. But each of these barriers was bowled over so inevitably and so completely that in retrospect, as the panorama of the American Conquest is being rolled to its last few pictures, the battles with . . .

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