Hell, why read any history for that matter? What’s the use in wasting time learning about the past? What good has the past done us?
I can’t help but think that’s the attitude that many politicians in Montanan and the nation have had for an exceedingly long time. Policies are terrible, wealth gaps widen, and mistrust of government has never been so high.
It was just about the same during the time of the Robber Barons, or the Gilded Age (gild is a cheap, gold look-alike used to cover cheap crap).
That time period in America and Montana was the last part of the 19th century, or around 1870 to 1900 – exactly the time period of Braves and Businessmen, this fourth volume of Montana history that’s in print and eBook format.
I finished it back in June but didn’t make a big fuss about it, primarily for three reasons:
- First, I spelled my own name wrong on the cover, or at least the designer did, and I didn’t catch it;
- Next, I wanted to get the thing into print format, which was a huge pain the ass and took longer than I’d expected (about 2 weeks);
- Finally…I just got lazy and never did a promo post for this book, and then instead of doing one I just wrote the next book in the series, Hustlers and Homesteaders.
Oh well, the name’s fixed now, the book’s up, and I’m writing about it now. And don’t worry too much about that fourth book – we’ll get to it tomorrow.
Like I said, this book details what happened in Montana from 1870 to 1900. It does so in a chronological fashion, and here’s a look at the Table of Contents:
Part I – The 1870s
- The Marias Massacre – A Montana Disgrace
- Helena Rises to the Occasion
- Politics and Panic in Helena
- The Coming of the Railroads
- The Black Hills Expedition of 1874
- Exploring Yellowstone
- The Battle of Powder River
- The Battle of the Rosebud
- The Battle of the Little Bighorn
- The Battle of Warbonnet Creek
- The Battle of Slim Buttes
- The Battle of Cedar Creek
- The Dull Knife Fight
- The Battle of Wolf Mountain
- The Battle of White Bird Canyon
- The Battle of Cottonwood
- The Battle of the Clearwater
- The Meeting at Fort Fizzle
- The Battle of the Big Hole
- The Battle of Camas Creek
- The Nez Perce in Yellowstone Park
- The Battle of Canyon Creek
- The Battle of Cow Island Landing
- The Battle of Bear Paw
- Surrender At Last
Part II – The 1880s
- Henry Villard, James J. Hill and Montana Railroads
- Paris Gibson and the Start of Great Falls
- Helena and Montana Politics in the 1880s
- William Clark, Marcus Daly, and the Start of Butte
- The Hard Winter of 1886-7
- The Clark-Daly Feud, Election of 1888, and Statehood
Part III – The 1890s
- The Black Eagle Dam and Montana’s Energy Industry
- Silver and the Panic of 1893
- Montana Politics in the 1890s
- Ella Knowles and Montana Populism
- The Montana Sapphire Boom
- Consolidation in the Butte Mines
- Montana at the Close of the Century
About the Author
To give you a better idea of this book, let’s take a look at each of those decades in Montana history in the 1800s.
The 1870s in Montana
The Great Sioux War took place in 1876 and the Nez Perce War occurred in 1877…just two years.
They were completely separate conflicts and incidents, and it’s that last there that’s the best way to describe the Nez Perce War – an incident.
It’s a good story and you’ll get all the details of their flight, over 30 pages of it.
That conflict that came before the Nez Perce War, however, really was a war. The Great Sioux War is when Custer’s Last Stand happened, or as we call it now, the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
It wasn’t all Indians fighting, and for eight years other things were happening in Montana. There were whores in Helena and they had a lot of money and owned a lot of property. The legislature was also doing quite well.
Montana in the 1880s
In the 1870s and 1880s Montana was still a territory, but by 1889 it was a state. You’ll learn about the characters that made it all happen, you know, the ones everyone really loves to talk about? Yep, Clark, Daly, Heinze…and a lot of other dead men that really have very little bearing on Montana today.
The railroads came to Montana in the 1880s and you’ll also learn about some of the earlier cities, such as Great Falls and its hydropower potential under Paris Gibson.
The hard winter of 1886-7 in Montana is discussed in detail, and like all the books in the Montana History Series, you’ll get facts and figures and all kinds of numbers you can bandy about to make yourself feel smart and cause the other guy to give up arguing because there’s just no use.
Montana History in the 1890s
And of course you get a lot of the stuff you’ve read in other Montana history books, those dusty tomes from your college days, or books you might see but never buy at Wal-mart.
Really, how much about Montana’s history do you know? I’m just 32 and I know a lot and that makes me powerful. Rhetoric is a lost art, but when you’ve got a book like this you can make a fact sheet that gives you that artful talent and propels you to new levels.
Whether that’s arguing with your coworkers at the water cooler in DPHHS or making your move in the 2015 legislature, the ideas in this book will help you…mainly because most Montanans don’t have them.
When I went to Helena High School from 1996 to 2000, Montana history was an elective class, and I don’t think a whole lot of people took it. Mr. Hartman sure was a good teacher, and I’m sure many could have benefited.
Montana history at UM is only taught once a year now, in spring. That’s just 3 months of the year that a good segment of our population is thinking about the state’s past.
How’s that working out for us? What could you learn from this book? Check it out and see for yourself.
I think we were that a bit before, but the point is, you’ll get a clear and concise account of what happened during this period of time in Montana, and that’ll give you a better idea of how the current political, social, cultural, and economic situation has come about in Montana.
History books do that, and I know this one will thrill you, anger you, make you think and hopefully make you take some action to make the state a better place.