THE SILVER ISSUE
What you are about to read is the death of an American dream. You may approach it with logic, although few people did during its 1880s and 1890s heyday, or with more emotion than logic, as they did then. In reality, this is a crusade, a revivalistic, passionate crusade to save “their” America. To understand what is about to transpire, one has to try to return to a time and place as foreign to today as the Salem witch trials seemed to the generation of the late nineteenth century.
This is the saga of the determined stand of a vanishing America against the onrushing future. The promised land of a better life for oneself and one's children had always been tied to owning land. Now westerners and farmers elsewhere doubted that premise, less sure that the dream would emerge as real life. The hopes and expectations of two centuries collapsed against the restless drive of tomorrow's reality and that of the day after.
The tragedy inherent within this is that those long-held hopes and expectations created their own demise. Who could have killed them? Plots swirled. Many of these plots, believed religiously at the time, make no logical sense except in the darkness and desperation of the times. Despair brewed will-o'-the-wisp elixirs, held out and drunk as the gospel of salvation. Innocence, gullibility, hardheaded reality, naïveté, hypocrisy, bamboozling, and ambition were mixed together in a helter-skelter fashion.
Intermingled with all this breathed the dreams of other Americans who worked equally hard to reach their promised land. They too included