eff Riggenbach’s book is a godsend for anyone who needs a crash course in revisionist history of the United States. What is revisionism? It is the retelling of history from a point of view that differs from the mainstream, which always treats the victor (the state) as glorious and the conquered (individual liberty) as deserving of its fate. Obviously the libertarian telling of American history is going to be different. The state and its creations are not the heroes. The producers of capital, the average people, the voluntary society: these are the forces that make up civilization....
In teaching American government and politics, I constantly meet large numbers of students who have no
knowledge of the most elementary facts of American history since the Civil War. When they are taken to task
for their neglect, they reply that there is no textbook dealing with the period, and that the smaller histories are
sadly deficient in their treatment of our age.
It is to supply the student and general reader with a handy guide to contemporary history that I have
undertaken this volume.
In republishing these essays in collected form, it has seemed best to issue them as they were originally printed,
with the exception of a few slight corrections of slips in the text and with the omission of occasional
duplication of language in the different essays. A considerable part of whatever value they may possess arises
from the fact that they are commentaries in different periods on the central theme of the influence of the
frontier in American history.
That a new history of the United States is needed, extending from the discovery down to the present time,
hardly needs statement. No such comprehensive work by a competent writer is now in existence. Individual
writers have treated only limited chronological fields. Meantime there, is a rapid increase of published sources
and of serviceable monographs based on material hitherto unused.
This book contains the substance of the course of lectures given in the Old South Meeting-House in Boston in December, 1884, at the Washington University in St. Louis in May, 1885, and in the theatre of the University
Club in New York in March, 1886. In its present shape it may serve as a sketch of the political history of the
United States from the end of the Revolutionary War to the adoption of the Federal Constitution. It makes no
pretensions to completeness, either as a summary of the events of that period or as a discussion of the political
questions involved in them....
To you we owe the suggestion of writing this book. Its purpose, as you know better than any one else, is to tell
in simple fashion the story of some Americans who showed that they knew how to live and how to die; who
proved their truth by their endeavor; and who joined to the stern and manly qualities which are essential to the
well-being of a masterful race the virtues of gentleness, of patriotism, and of lofty adherence to an ideal.
It is a good thing for all Americans, and it is an especially good thing for young Americans, to remember the