Workers v. Warriors & Civilization (according to Laura Ingalls Wilder)

The canons leaped backward, the air was full of flying grass and weeds… Everybody was exclaiming about what a loud noise they had made.

“That’s the noise that made the Redcoats run!” Mr. Paddock said to Father.

“Maybe,” Father said, tugging his beard. “But it was muskets that won the Revolution. And don’t forget it was axes and plows that made this country.”…

Independence Day was over… That night when they were going to the house with milk, Almanzo asked Father:

“Father, how was it axes and plows that made this country? Didn’t we fight England for it?”

“We fought for Independence, son,” Father said. “But all the land our forefathers had was a little strip of country, here between the moutains and the ocean. All the way from here west was Indian country, and Spanish and French and English country. It was farmers that took all that country and made it America.”

“How?” Almanzo asked.

“Well, son, the Spaniards were soldiers, and high-and-mighty gentlemen that only wanted gold. And the French were fur-traders, wanting to make quick money. And England was busy fighting wars. But we were farmers, son; we wanted the land. It was farmers that went over the mountains, and cleared the land, and settled it, and farmed it, and hung on to their farms.”

From Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy, “Independence Day,” p. 179-181

(Living in Post-Civil-War America, I realize Mr. Wilder is engaging in some self-deception. But the ideals shouldn’t be lost even if their execution was far more tainted than he wants to admit.)

One thought on “Workers v. Warriors & Civilization (according to Laura Ingalls Wilder)

  1. pentamom

    Another blindspot is that the Spanish actually did quite a bit of farming and building in the Far West. But that wasn’t really on Mr. Wilder’s radar screen either, growing up in upstate New York in the early 1800’s.


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