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Showing posts from June, 2018

What were high ways in pre-modern times?

Highways Defined and How They Morph
In the 1790s the US Postal Service published standards to be met to qualify to be a postal coach stop.  Among the first was a requirement that your establishment must be situated on 'an all season, all weather road.'  By this, I believe they meant on a high road or high way.  So what did that mean?  What was a high road or a high way?  In short, I believe it meant a road that passed streams high in their course where a passage was seldom if ever obstructed by flood and hewed as close as possible to ridge tops.

Highways probably shifted over time as transportation modes and road technology changed. For example, as draft animals grew ever larger in the 19th century so too did payloads. The increased weight tore up dirt roads so counties imposed tire dimension minimums; the heavier the cargo the wider their iron tires needed to be. And the greater the cargo weight the more restricted will be the options for fording streams; hence a route chang…

Slaving Native Americans: Recommended reading

Disgrace
One way of dealing with disgrace is to pretend it didn't happen, another is to create a false narrative that exonerates the disgraced for what happened in the first place. When considering our Native American populations Americans tend to do both. To our credit, we are conscionable enough to feel disgraced and rightly so as we have throughout our history treated our Native brethren as "other," thus of little or no consequence to our story. Lately, a flood of books has arrived to prevent us from forgetting our past and allow us to revise our narrative to more closely approximate historical facts.
A Seldom Noted Fact
The bare fact is that much, perhaps most, of the reduction in Native American populations after the European invasion of the Western Hemisphere can be directly and indirectly attributed to slaving the Native population.
Our traditional narrative asserts that quite by accident, Europeans introduces diseases against which native peoples had no natural im…