The Sinister Rugged Individualism Conspiracy

Were Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, the mother-daughter team who crafted the popular Little House on the Prairie books, eager to distort pioneer life to advance an anti-FDR libertarian agenda?

So alleges author Christine Woodside in a tendentious article for the Boston Globe, citing “strategic commissions and omissions” deployed to produce a “testament to the possibilities of self-sufficiency rather than its limitations.”

No testament to the limitations, eh? Sounds nefarious.

One alleged omission pertains to the 1862 Homestead Act, without which the pioneers supposedly could not have pioneered. The books insidiously pay scant attention to this “federal largesse.”

First, what “largesse”? The Act merely permitted what people have a right to do anyway (setting aside cases of prior Indian settlement): make an un-owned piece of land one’s property by mixing one’s labor with it. Such land was certainly not owned by right by government. Second, Megan McArdle reports that contra Woodside’s claim that the Prairie books “barely mention” the relevance of the Homestead Act, “there are many lengthy passages explaining the Homestead Act, and how it works, including the granting of the land to the family by the government.”

Woodside is the type of writer who regards eloquent passion for liberty as “strident” (her adjective for Lane’s Discovery of Freedom), and the self-reliance involved in hardscrabble survival as part of an American “myth.” So many dubious assertions, so little time. Fortunately, McArdle has done much of the pioneering work in this area for us.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

7 Comments so far ↓

  1. Aug
    22
    10:06
    AM
    Edward Agazarm

    As liberty is rising, so will attacks from the fear driven Nanny-Staters.

    We scare the bejesus out of them.

    Many of them can’t even comprehend us.

  2. Aug
    22
    10:35
    AM
    drrik

    She tried writing about energy independence back in ’08 and nobody bought her book. Apparantly the independent types are too independent to support her. It’s enough to make anyone bitter

  3. Aug
    22
    3:02
    PM
    Paulina West

    Thank you so much for the link to the Wilder pdf, and for your column drawing attention to the re-writing of our history.

    Historians have been misattributing the advancements of civilization to an extractive, debauched, privileged aristocracy for a long time. It is contained in countless books on ancient to modern history.

    This all begins with Plato and his philosophy of a highly stratified society with separate laws for separate classes. Plato’s fans re-write history in order to justify the existence of class privileges. We now see laws routinely passed which are applied to Americans and which exempt Congress, Unions, and “non-profits.” For example, Obamacare introduces separate laws for separate classes. This distorted view of history – which credits a ruthless, privileged aristocracy shaping society for the best – has been published by academics and scholars for a long time, but it becomes more noticeable when it is applied to American classics, such as the Little House series.

    Incidentally, Plato wrote that only the aristocracy should be allowed to own chariots, weapons, and art, or be allowed to eat certain delicacies. ref: Karl Popper

  4. Aug
    22
    3:06
    PM
    Paulina West

    From the link to Discover of Freedom:

    “It’s no wonder: here we have an eloquent hymn to human energy and its creative power. She sought to highlight the difference it made in America that the individual was permitted freedom from government authority. The Americans broke from the idea that dominated all over human history that they must depend on some overarching authority in government to grant them well being, and thus when good happens, we owe ever more to the powers that be.

    The one idea that this is not the case, that human beings have within themselves the capacity to make their own way, she wrote, created the most glorious civilization in world history. Her passion was to help others see the cause: not authority but individual initiative and action.

    She traced out this idea to provide sketches of history from the ancient world to the mid-20th century, believing that she had discovered the answer to what transformed the world from a dark, miserable, sickly, and dangerous place to one where humans thrive and create.”

  5. Aug
    22
    6:47
    PM
    Pat

    I read all but one of the “Little House” books. At least four of the books detail what it was like for the family to file for the claim and to meet the requirements for keeping the land. The family was hardly alone. They were part of a small but growing community in the Dakota Territory who helped one another. The Long Winter appears to coincide with the year after Krakatoa erupted. Wilder tells how the town was saved from starvation by the actions of community members. I have no doubt there were commissions and omissions because these were works of fiction, not autobiographies. That doesn’t take away from their worth.
    I’m almost surprised Ms. Woodside didn’t accuse the authors of racism, given that Laura Ingalls Wilder told a vivid story of townspeople putting on their own minstrel show.
    I’ve never read anything by Rose Lane, but it’s hard to believe Mrs. Wilder wrote her books as anti-FDR sermons, given that she was sixty five when FDR was first elected.

  6. Aug
    22
    10:14
    PM
    Lynn A. Bloxham

    I cannnot add or improve upon what was stated by Paul or above except that lately we have had attacks on Ayn Rand, so this was simply next. Probably Mark Twain will follow.

  7. Aug
    23
    8:25
    AM
    Brian Richard Allen

    …. Comrade Christine Woodside, in a tendentious article for the Boston Globe, alleges that Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane advanced an anti-FDR libertarian agenda.

    …. Woodside says that in 1943, Ms Lane was so outraged by a radio broadcast about Social Security that she penned an angry postcard comparing such programs to Nazi policies ….

    No surprise the fascist Left is still rewriting history. Seems it didn’t get the memo about the internet, instantaneous sharing of un-spun truth and that We Who Are Right now own and/or control the Rhetoric!

    And just wait until poor Comrade Woodside and her cell get their hands on Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government, by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein. (Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/myd8jva )

    His “administration” top-to-bottom riddled with and run by Soviet agents, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was such an unvarnished unconstitutional expansion of fascist federal power that it turns even the massive government expansionist, Nixon, into a piker by comparison and causes the of-a-totalitarian-bent, Zero, to seem irrelevant.

    Brian Richard Allen

Spruce up your comments with
<a href="" title=""><abbr title=""><acronym title=""><b><blockquote cite=""><cite><code><del datetime=""><em><i><q cite=""><strike><strong>
New comments are moderated before being shown * = required field Be sure to answer the simple math problem below to help demonstrate that you are a human rather than a spambot.

Leave a Comment






6 − = five