America’s Long Journey: The Great Secretary of State

Oddly, the thing the public least remembers about John Quincy Adams is that he was a great diplomat and Secretary of State, very possibly the greatest Secretary of State we have ever had. Before he became the sixth President of the United States, before he became a respected elder statesman in the House of Representatives, he spent eight years as James Monroe’s Secretary of State, and accomplished three great things. He negotiated or helped negotiate the Treaty of 1818 (which paved the way for better relations between the United States and Canada), and the Adams-Onis Treaty (which obtained Florida for the United States, ending the Spanish presence east of the Mississippi, and resolved all the remaining boundary issues stemming from the Louisiana Purchase. And wrote what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine.

(1) The Treaty of 1818

The Treaty of 1818, known formally as “the convention respecting fisheries, boundary and the restoration of slaves,” settled left-over issues from the War of 1812, secured important fishing rights off Labrador and Newfoundland, resolved standing boundary issues between the United State and the United Kingdom by setting the 49th parallel as the northern border as far west as the disputed Oregon territory, and allowed joint occupation and settlement of Oregon for ten years, later extended. The Treaty (or Convention) of 1818, along with the 1817 Rush-Bagot treaty that largely demilitarized the Great Lakes, improved relations with Great Britain and Canada

(2) The Adams-Onis Treaty

The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Florida Treaty, by itself would be enough to establish Adams’ reputation.

When General Andrew Jackson, pursuing raiding Seminole Indians, invaded Spanish Florida (and hanged two British subjects), the president and all the rest of the cabinet were ready to condemn him, but Adams argued that the United States was acting in self-defense, since the Spanish had become incapable of policing that territory. Adams then negotiated a treaty with Spain that: acquired Florida unconditionally, in return for the United States agreeing to pay up to $5 million in claims by American citizens against Spain; resolved the boundary issues left over from the Louisiana Purchase in such a way as to extend U.S. territory to the Pacific Ocean; and extinguished all Spanish claims above the 42nd parallel – that is, any claim to the land that would become the Oregon territory.

(3) The Monroe Doctrine.

Put simply, the Monroe Doctrine states that, on the one hand, the United States would view as an act of aggression any effort by any European nation to colonize or intervene in the affairs of any nation in the Americas, and, on the other hand, the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. Pretty bold statement, for a nation without much of a navy.

By the end of 1823, the American colonies of Spain and Portugal had all gained independence except Peru and Bolivia, both of which would do so within the next two years, and the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico, which as we have seen would remain Spanish for another three quarters of a century. But obtaining independence was one thing; maintaining it was another. Neither the United States nor Great Britain wanted to see some European power move in to fill any power vacuum that might occur. British Foreign Secretary George Canning proposed a joint British-U.S. statement opposing European interference, but the War of 1812 was too recent to make any overt cooperation with England politically popular. President Monroe issued the doctrine unilaterally, as part of his seventh annual address to Congress, even though only the British fleet could enforce it, which it did, if only tacitly.

(The British had their own reasons, chiefly to preserve access to markets that had been cut off by Spain’s trade policy, and might be cut off again should any other power gain influence. And as it turned out, the practical effect of excluding European meddling was to leave the U.S. free to meddle undisturbed. But in 1823, the disparity in strength between the States and Spanish America was not nearly so great as it would become, and in 1823 it was hoped that Spanish America might confederate in the way that thirteen of the English colonies had confederated.)

After eight years, Adams became president for four years, then, after his overthrow by the new forces of western democracy exemplified by Andrew Jackson, he served 17 years in the House of Representatives, where he took up the struggle against slavery and became known as “old man eloquent.” But it could be argued that his greatest service to his country took place in his years as another man’s Secretary of State.

Questions on healing and creation

Thursday, September 27, 2018

5:35 a.m. Let’s go again.

If you feel up to it, all right.

I think I do. I guess we’ll see.

From Maureane O’Shaugnessy:

[Whenever my light is ‘helping’ someone heal, which it just does on its own without me volitionally controlling it, I heat up all throughout my body tremendously.   It does this remotely all the time. Recently I was looking at a photo of someone long dead and it happened. I often have this experience. My question. Is my light going back in time to help?   And does this then change a person’s timeline or experience within the timeline I’m observing?   Or is my light going to where that soul signature is now and helping? Hope that’s clear.]

[TGU:] Here you see a good example of how your interpretations of what you experience may be severely distorted because interpreted in light of 3D conditions.

Meaning, I take it, that we are unconsciously assuming the primacy of time in such experiences, because that is our everyday sensory reality.

That’s right. Just as someone returned from an NDE may reinterpret its experience of a past-life review as a sequential process, so here. When we reinterpret this without temporal references, the distorting effect of that very strong mental habit of interpreting things in terms of time should be clear.

To begin, we should and do congratulate Maureane on her open-heartedness. That is the prerequisite for such abilities, and, by the way, explains why some people can “do healing” without training and without any very firm idea of what they are doing, or how, or why it works. The heart comes first, by a long, long chalk, and intellect and techniques a long way second.

So now let us look at what she is experiencing. To say it without time references would be to say approximately this: She looked at a photo of a remembered being and felt the energetic connection that she associates with helping another to heal. Her energy, merged with that other energy, produced a resonance that the other could not have summoned, not being focused and honed in the 3D ever-moving-present moment.

That transformation (whether extensive or not, and regardless of its nature) will necessarily affect that entire being. But what does that mean, “that entire being”? Well, think of yourselves. Who and what are you? Present 3D selves (minus your body, once you leave 3D), connected to the parent that generated you, and to all the other beings generated by that same larger being, and in particular to every other 3D experience you have ever had; that is, to all your “past” and “future” lives. Change one, change all, to greater or lesser extent dependent not upon distance in time or space, nor of closeness of relationship, but upon the intensity of the energy exchange.

So, you see, the answer to her alternative explanations is, yes. Yes, or, let’s say, yes depending upon what you mean by any of them.

Change one, change all.

Yes, and the closer you look at that particular bumper sticker, the wider the implications you may discover. It does not refer only to individuals, or rather (given that “individual” is only a relative term) it may be said to have infinite reference, depending upon the scale being examined.

We have heard reality being described as a massive ever-changing kaleidoscope. Change one, change all.

We smile, because you certainly never heard us call it “massive.” Mass is one of those relatively real but not really real terms that structure your experience, but aren’t really in existence. Rather like gravity.

If Maureane (or anyone else, for that matter) finds our explanation unclear or unconvincing for some specific reason, of course we are available for follow-up questions. In fact, we’re going to stop saying that. Take it always for granted.

Okay, shall we proceed?

One more only.

From Jaycee:

[Hmm…. (All of creation – not just this 3D/non-3D world we are familiar with through our senses, but the underlying realer world as well – exists and always did and presumably always will exist, in whatever form.)… Does this mean that nothing ever thought or imagined is new, or does the thought create (we as creators) the item, or does everything exist only as probability until created by thought or imagination. Trying hard to get this concept of `everything is as everything always has been or will be` the phrase ` you can`t tear down the pyramids before they are built` (a phrase `Rita` has used I believe) seems to suggest a time of -non existence- PLEASE clarify.]

[TGU:] There is a misunderstanding involved here, a common one. Addressing it yet again is useful, purely because it is so common. It is simple yet can be difficult to address, because the underlying assumptions are so well hidden, or, let’s say, so fundamental.

Let me try. I have the sense of it. I think you’re going to say, the manifest world and the unmanifest world are the same thing, really, and so cannot be separated except conceptually.

We smile. What you said isn’t wrong, but do you suppose it will mean anything to anybody who doesn’t already get it?

Well – I thought it would.

You underestimate, sometimes, how the proximity to your non-3D understanding when you are engaging in ILC makes some things temporarily clear to you that would not be, otherwise.

If you say so. Then, what did I say, in more understandable terms?

Reversing roles, aren’t we?

Seems like it. But I’m ready to be instructed.

There is no real separation between the 3D world you experience and all the other versions of the world (of reality, we mean, of course; this does not refer to terra firma only) that exist as the logical consequences of different decisions.

The “many worlds” theory of quantum physics, only divorced from time as the filter.

You are being less lucid than usual, if we may say so. Decisions imply duration of time, of course. But we do know what you mean. Every possibility exists and always did exist from the beginning of reality. (And there’s that time function again.) Things manifest in specific orders in specific conditions as a result of specific combinations, but they exist (manifest or unmanifest) always.

Return to the image of the clock face and the clock hands. All reality is the clock face; any specific sequence is the clock hands. They are not only both real, they each are dependent for their meaning upon the existence and function of the other.

And that’s it for today. Don’t come back for a third bite of the apple.

No sir. Understood, sir. At your orders, sir.

We’re smiling too, but periodical reminders not to overdo seem indicated.

Okay. Thanks again.


Fascinating new Egyptian discovery

There’s always more to learn.

America’s Long Journey: Snapshot, 1850

The most important fact about America in 1850 is that it was a house divided. Half a century later, in 1900, slavery and the political, economic and social divisions it caused would seem a thing of the distant past. Half a century earlier, in 1800, as we shall see, slavery was not even a minor annoyance among the states, nor, for that matter, was it confined to the South. But in 1850, it was the one issue that had the potential to bring America’s experiment in self-government to a disastrous end.

A few of the most conspicuous differences between 1900 and 1850, looking backward:

* Compare the size of the population of the United States in 1850 as opposed to 50 years later or earlier. The population in 1850 was only a third what it would be at the turn of the century coming, but it was more than four times what it had been 50 years before.

1900                1850                1800

total     76,200,000      23,200,000      5,300,000

free      76,200,000      20,000,000      4,400,000

slave                            3,200,000        900,000

* The union had 31 states, as opposed to 45 in 1900 (the 48 mainland states minus Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico) and 16 in 1800 (the original 13 plus Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee).

* In 1850, only six states existed west of the Mississippi — Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, newly admitted Texas, and – after September 9 – California. What we know of as the frontier separated the settled states in the East from the former Mexican province of Alta California. Between the two were five territories, not yet populated enough to warrant statehood. There were no overseas territories at all.

* Railroad and telegraph were still in their first few years. The various parts of the nation were still tied together primarily by ship or by carriage over often execrable roads. Communication and travel between the Pacific coast and the rest of the States took weeks or months, depending whether you traveled on horseback across the plains or by ship via the isthmus of Panama or around the horn.

* There were no internal combustion engines, no fractional-horsepower motors, no electric lighting, no telephones.

* Neither transatlantic cable nor transcontinental railroad existed. News was conveyed partly by telegraph, partly by local newspapers reprinting the news of newspapers from other localities.

* Most important of all, in 1850, slavery seemed as permanent and as virulently alive as ever. The leaders of the slave states were set on slavery’s expansion, determined that the South would receive “its share” of the territories newly conquered from Mexico. Free-state men feared that slavery was on its way to becoming a national, rather than a regional, institution. It would have taken a bold prophet indeed to foresee that within 15 years the ancient curse would be gone.

* Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, were names unknown to the nation as a whole, as unknown as the vast unrolling future that would bring Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison, and Theodore Roosevelt.

TGU — walking your path or non-path

Sunday, March 11, 2018

[A session that came in sort of sideways, and then went on far longer than usual.]

5:10 a.m. EDT. A dream. He is at his desk. His superior comes by. He realizes he can’t do his job any more, at least he’s afraid that’s true, and is pretty sure it is. He tells her he is getting things ready in his mind, because he doesn’t want to jump in prematurely, as he used to do when younger. She accepts that – at least apparently, but maybe really, too – and leaves him alone. But he is in white-hot panic.

Preview of coming attractions? Flashback to earlier days? Analogy to Hemingway’s last years? All of the above?

I never had the confidence I would have needed, to accomplish what I was nonetheless impelled to attempt. And then I not only didn’t have the confidence, but was discouraged by the feedback as well, and did not have the confidence I would have needed to press on regardless. I needed John Nelson’s brashness, or Michael Langevin’s, or Bob Friedman’s calmly implacable purpose, and instead I had – what? A perpetual feeling for what might be the way?

[Unexpectedly, for basically I had been writing to myself:] Don’t be so hard on yourself.

And within I had a traitor as well, someone always saying, “You can’t, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t have, you don’t deserve it, you aren’t worthy.”

Maybe everyone has such angels, and maybe everyone has to decide whether to listen to them.

Maybe so. It didn’t make my life any easier, nor any more productive, to not know what to do.

Maybe nobody knows.

That isn’t how it looks.

Look at how some people look at your life. To them it appears a miracle of good fortune, natural gifts, luck possibly unmerited. Just as you have thought of the lives of others.

So, what? It’s just a trick of perspective, how I’m feeling?

It is a feeling, one that may be overcome by doing the work you can do, while you can do it, rather than being overwhelmed with sorrow that you did not do what maybe you could have done and maybe you could not have done.

I suppose.

Which leaves you happier, doing what you can, or lamenting what you cannot?

Am I supposed to put this out in public, as well?

Nobody can force you to do so.

That isn’t what I asked.

Everybody has his own path, or non-path, and breaks trail in his own way, shaping his life in the process. But it’s more about breaking the trail than about getting to the destination, for there is no destination, ultimately, only traveling.

I’ll think about it. Meanwhile, shall we continue?

That is just what we have been doing here. If we are going to produce something of use to people, it can only be something that takes all the high-flying speculation and marries it to the slogging through the mud that is, so often, a human life. Conflicts, emotional overwhelms, depression, despair, hatred – all the expression within a life of forces beyond control – it is real, is it not? It is to be explained. It is to be placed into context. You don’t want – we don’t want! – one more representation of human life as if you were calculating machines (homo economicus) or reasoning beings, or ideologically determined ones, or pawns in the hands of God or the devil. Neither [descriptive] extreme is helpful. Only both extremes of any range, all extremes of all ranges, if it could be done, will help anybody face and transmute his own private despair.

Is everyone in despair, then?

It is not a question of everyone, nor of all the time. It is a question of helping those who can be helped, when they need the help.

Of course, I see that. And I read years ago that greatness consists not of being at one extreme or its opposite, but of touching both extremes at once.

Isn’t that what your heroes have in common? Hemingway particularly?

I have had many heroes over the years, and I notice that they have changed. That is, the qualities I value most – as embodied in individual lives – have changed within me, so that the heroes of one time become merely estimable men.

Hero-worship is a useful and a limiting tool, both.

Would it be worthwhile for me to read Carlyle on hero-worship?

You aren’t likely to get as much out of it as you might have gotten if you were reading it 150 years ago.

“No vale la pena.” [Not worth the effort.] Probably not, but how hard would it be to get it out of Alderman [library] and look?

Only, as we say, probably not worth your time. To return to the point: Examination of your life (one’s own life, we mean) may be done at any of several levels, and the more levels, and the more in relation one to another, the more productive the insights. Only, no one can understand one’s own life without feeling it.

And as it said in the movie [Ordinary People], feelings don’t always tickle.

No indeed. But feelings alone, examination of events and motivations alone, treating your life as if it were lived in isolation – as one usually does – produces a curious weightless distortion, leaving the picture floating in air.

I’d better go start the coffee. I get the sense that although we’ve been going more than half an hour, the most important part is about to begin.

Not more important than what has preceded. Instead, an important amplification that may, true, benefit from your own particular kind of chemical assistance, coffee.

Fortunately, only a matter of pressing a button, today. I don’t always have it ready to go from the night before, but I did this time.

Observe, though, how your mood lightened as you had the prospect of productive work. It is meaninglessness and drift that make people’s lives torment, and isn’t that precisely what we have been trying to help you dispel [in others]? And by the way it is very important that you not let them put you on a pedestal (thus creating a very convenient gap which they can use to excuse themselves from making their own efforts) if only by omission.

I understand that. Nonetheless, not everything is anyone else’s business, let alone everyone’s.

No, but the fact that dirty laundry exists is all that’s needed. Everybody will have their own secrets, their own shortcomings, regrets, shames, embarrassments to conceal. They’ll understand very well, and, you’re right, the specific contents of anyone else’s skeletons in the closet is nobody else’s business.

And we are 45 minutes in, but on the other hand the coffee is at hand. So, we may proceed for some time if you need to.

Again, notice.

I do. I don’t know why I don’t spend all my time creating, either this way or another.

But you no longer have the energy you did when you were young. It is an inevitable process, so it becomes a matter of using what you have, in the light of your experiences, to do so more efficiently. The results may be more or less the same, for quite a while.

“Old age and treachery can defeat youth and skill,” they say in tennis.

A better analogy would not involve competition with others, nor even with oneself, but would express how the compensating knowledge and wisdom of age may keep up with, and often outdo, the sheer energy and impetus of youth.

As we were saying, your lives may be examined as if in a vacuum, and, indeed, often are. Or they may be examined in the light of the times they were lived in – a “life and times of” book of someone famous. Or, they may be examined from inside – autobiography – or from outside – biography—or, very rarely, from a spiritual perspective. Even the words “spiritual perspective” scarcely mean anything to your time.

No, it sounds like The Lives of the Saints.

Now, this is a slight digression, but a relevant one, perhaps. Tell of Adomnan’s life of Columba.

Yes, I had that in mind during that last paragraph. I bought it when I was on Iona, 15 years ago, and I like it very much, but it struck me how different it is to the way any biography would be written today, or even, almost could be written today. The things that scholars value so much as facts don’t interest Adomnan at all. When Columba was born, where, the name of his dentist (so to speak), the family tree, the record of his life chronology – none of that interests Adomnan. What does interest him is to show why Columba was held in such high regard; what qualities he possessed and how they manifested. The physical facts that enter the narrative are wholly subsumed in that purpose. And what we are left with, I recognized very well. It was a straight recounting of what might, I see, be called “the spiritual facts,” if the phrase be properly understood.

You should say a little more.

My own experiences, and those of my friends, especially those centering around our Monroe Institute experiences, if only because those combine community with specific group and individual endeavors understood within a common context. What specifically happens is often less important than what it indicates, what it illustrates or hints at or provides feedback to or encouragement for. And I think that’s what I find so simpatico in the viewpoint I read into the life Adomnan wrote. He sees the way I do, although his is firmly Christian in a seventh-century way that is not available 14 centuries later.

All right. Now, take a moment to gather your strength, and center, and we’ll see how far we got.

Okay. We have over ten pages – and our 65 minutes – already. But I take it that you have something specific in mind. [Pause.]


To examine what is called the spiritual heritage of mankind is not without its value, and may be done in any of various moods and methods. In-depth examination of any one religion’s scripts and traditions will lead in one direction. Comparative reading and study among many will lead in a different direction. Skimming or deep immersion, in either case, will, similarly, lead in different directions. Learning in any of these ways, and then actively relating them to one or more philosophies or disciplines, similarly, will lead in various directions. Will Durant leads one way, Carl Jung another, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and Emerson each in his own direction.

Of course, nothing worth doing is ever done in the spirit of imitation. Of emulation, yes, but not of imitation. You see the distinction?

Yes. Imitation tries to be someone else. Emulation tries to live up to the best in someone else.

Well expressed.

Yes, I’m a little surprised myself. I didn’t know that until I said it. You’d think I was in contact with somebody smart.

Probably you’re just making it up.

Clearly. So –

So in your day (well, actually in the days to come that you will not live long to see, but you have to begin somewhere, sometime) you will need to emulate, not be forever imitating. Thus, new ways of seeing will produce a new [type of] history, a new biography, a new spiritual memoir, that will not have existed because they could not have been created out of the conscious vision of the world that is passing away. Only, don’t expect the Age of Aquarius to manifest in full bloom in the next 20 minutes.

We are not here talking about a project for you nor your friends; we are talking about how you may reshape the boundaries and possibilities of your lives by absorbing this material and transmuting it into whatever it is that you, yourself, living where and when and how you do, produce when you incorporate your own being into it.

That will sound a little backwards, inserting ourselves into the understanding.

Seem, perhaps, but not be. It is said correctly, and the work needed to rearrange your minds to absorb it is work that will make it yours.

Now. There is a problem. Over 25 years, you have been led from the more commonly accepted view of things (even though your view may have been unusual, it was well within the common stream) into something actually new even though seemingly an echo of other things that have been said here, there, elsewhere. It is too much to expect others to retrace that path, set out in how many books?

I don’t know. Muddy Tracks, Chasing Smallwood, Sphere and Hologram, Rita’s World, A Place to Stand, Awakening from the 3D World – six or seven, anyway.

Nobody is going to go about living your life again, so it would be as well to produce another precis.

And that can’t be done this way? Is that what I get?

We’ve been telling you right alone. But here is what we’re adding now: To write a book is to fix your understanding in time, and so the objective becomes to render each previous book obsolete or anyway out of date; otherwise you only imitate yourself. The previous books remain as stepping stones, but perhaps ultimately they will be of little importance except – big “except,” however! – to show others a way that the pathless path may be walked, in hope of encouraging them to do their own journeying in their own manner.

So now that you are aware that we intend to weave your lives-stories [i.e. life story, but plural, as it applies to all of us, not just one of us] into the larger story of life lives among the vast impersonal forces of the universe, you see two things perhaps. One, you must be willing to give up an unpredictable part of what you believe and understand and think you know; two, you must live your lives as bridges from what you were to what you are becoming, even while realizing that you are what you are; you express what you express, which is a very different thing.

And after an hour and a half, that is enough for the moment.

And almost 15 pages to transcribe. I hope the steno pool is available.

Well, you have coffee, don’t you.

Smiling. Next time, then. Thanks for a very helpful session.


John Anthony West and the Sphinx

John is a little older than I thought, born apparently in 1932. This photo from his website,

Someone joked that when Emerson visited Egypt in his old age, the Sphinx said, “You’re another.”

America’s Long Journey: Cowboys and Indians and nesters

Nineteenth century (1900 back to 1800)

Cowboys and Indians and nesters

In the mid-20th century, movies and television ran Westerns as staples, several series appearing week after week, for years. Kids routinely got toy six-shooters and just as routinely played Cowboys and Indians. The Wild West, at least the Wild West as re-imagined by Hollywood, had a firm grip on the people’s imagination. Perhaps it represented an ideal of freedom from urban crowding and suburban conformity, freedom from bureaucracy and office routine and dull postwar reality after the exciting World War II years. Nobody would be idealizing the Depression years, nor the Roaring Twenties that had roared so conspicuously over the cliff. Not much enthusiasm for a war to end wars that had paved the way for a bigger and more desperate crusade 20 year later, and that brought us back to Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, a moment in time. But there was a time after the Civil War and before the frontier disappeared into a seamless web of (dull) civilization. This was the 1870s and 1880s, which looked increasingly romantic.

The reality wasn’t quite as romantic as Hollywood would later paint it. If you look at The Old West in terms of economic and social forces, it retains a certain appeal, but it is a long way from Hopalong Cassidy.

First, the Indians. Plains Indians, unlike their Eastern counterparts, were nomadic, their homes light, quickly assembled and quickly taken down. Within the broad confines of their own more or less defined tribal areas, they moved along with the seasons, and with the buffalo, and according to whatever else moved them. Their way of life seemed to stem from time immemorial, but in fact was transitional. It depended upon two things they got from Europeans, and then from Americans: horses, and firearms.

The horse came to the plains Indians only beginning in the 1500s, when the Spanish, who brought horses to the new world, began losing them to raids and runaways. But the Indians adapted to the new animals so well, and reshaped their lives so thoroughly around their new mobility, that they became what been described as the finest light cavalry the world has ever known. By the time white settlers came pouring across the plains in the wake of the Civil War, and earlier, during the 1840s when white settlers in trains of horse-drawn wagons crossed the plains on their way to Oregon and California, and even earlier than that, when the mountain men began to trap beaver in the Rocky Mountains, and even earlier than that, when Lewis and Clark came by at the beginning of the century to get a sense of what the newly acquired Louisiana territory included, Indians had had horses so long that it seemed as if they had always had them. Still, the horse was a European import.

So were firearms, and this cultural acquisition did not work out as well as the horse had. Indians were nomads; hunters. Their way of life made no provision for a manufacturing industry, and yet, in acquiring firearms, they had become dependent upon a product of industry. Firearms without fresh cartridges were useless, and the Indians had no way to manufacture cartridges, and no interest in changing to be able to do so. Firearms also broke, or wore out, or were lost or stolen, and needed to be replaced. The only ways Indians had were purchase or theft. Widespread theft wasn’t practical, and purchase amounted to being fleeced, as purchasers dependent upon particular traders are always fleeced. (The price of a new rifle was sometimes set at the height of a rifle in beaver skins packed flat.)

The logic of trade resulted in Indians hunting more and more in order to obtain cartridges that allowed them to hunt more and more. Although modern romantics like to think of Indians as natural ecologists who lived in harmony with nature, etc., etc., when economic push came to economic shove, they joined the French Canadian and American trappers in trapping and shooting the beaver, for instance, to the point of extinction. In the case of the Indian, as in the case of the white trapper, it was a matter of inexorable economic logic. The real and tangible needs of the few outweighed the abstract and invisible needs of the whole. They always do, unless there is a countervailing pressure from somewhere, and that implies a larger view and an exponent of the larger view. Among the whites, Thoreau was one, as we shall see. So was John Muir. So were a few others. Surely some Indians must have understood what was happening as well, but an oral society leaves us no written records to consult.

In any case, there was a more fundamental conflict. The Indians were nomadic hunters and the whites were farmers and ranchers, settlers, who could only see undivided land as pre-civilization. (Indeed, that hasn’t changed. European patterns of land ownership have made us nearly unable to think in terms of land that is not owned. If nobody has title, it is presumed to be owned by the government. What’s more, America simplified European forms of land ownership, omitting whole classes of provisional or conditional ownership and replacing all with ownership in fee simple. Only later would we begin to rediscover the advantages of restrictions on ownership, in such things as land trusts, easements, etc.)

Where was the basis for compromise between a way of life that depended upon the free movement of millions of buffalo across hundreds of miles, and one that depended upon land surveys, property lines, and fences? There was no way to square that circle. Either the Indians would remain upon the land, living their pre-industrial existence (yet ever more dependent upon the weapons, tools and conveniences their new industrial neighbors could provide, for a price), or they – and the thundering herds of buffalo upon which they depended – would have to go. It didn’t help that many whites looked upon the Indians as savages – in fact, “savage” was the accepted word for them, before the less prejudicial word “natives” came into use – but even if they had been accepted as equals, how could settlers and nomads coexist?

But before the farmers and the towns came the cowboys. In 1866, trading post owner Jesse Chisholm and Black Beaver, a Lenape Indian, collected some of the stray cattle that filled the Texas plains and drove them to railheads in Kansas to be shipped East, where cattle went for $40 a head, as opposed to $4 a head in Texas. Texas cattlemen eventually drove an estimated five million head of Texas cattle along the Chisholm Trail to Kansas and thence East to market.

Huge cattle ranches gradually grew up throughout the plains states, wherever water was available and Indian resistance was not too strong. (In some areas, sheep were raised rather than cattle, but there was a bitter hostility between cattle ranchers and sheep herders, as sheep ruined the land for cattle grazing and horsemen consider sheep herders, who worked mostly afoot, as lesser beings than those like themselves who lived in the saddle.) These ranches were unfenced, and relied upon cowboys to keep watch over the herds day and night, and at the proper time drive them to the nearest railhead to get to market. Cowboys and Indians thus resembled each other in many respects, but the differences were profound enough to keep them on opposite sides. Cowboys lived in bunkhouses when not night-herding or cattle-driving; they read newspapers and magazines when available; if they saw cities seldom, they still considered themselves, proudly, part of the new nation still being constructed. And of course they were proud of being white, except (as was not all that uncommon) when they were black. They clung to a superiority stemming from their being part of “civilized” rather than a “savage” society.

And with time came new forces, that sent the open range the way of the untrammeled herds of buffalo. The railroads brought towns, and towns were surrounded not by ranches but by farms, and farmers – sometimes contemptuously called “nesters” – were looked upon by the cowboys with as little favor as Indians or sheep-herders. Didn’t matter. Farmers were the future and cowboys, the past. It would take a while, a couple of generations, but by 1890 the census bureau announced that the frontier – a line of demarcation separating the settled from the unsettled part of the country – had disappeared. Cowboys (and cavalry) had overcome the Indians, but civilization had overcome the cowboys in turn.