Wild Wild West
Like Radley, I'm a big fan of HBO's Deadwood. If you feel the same, you may enjoy this link, which has some information on the historical characters the show's based on, like Calamity Jane, above. Turns out Al Swearengen was a real guy, and about as vile as the character played by Ian MacShane:"Proprietor Al Swearengen recruited women from the States, assuring them of jobs in hotels or respectable homes, and the thrill of adventure on the Western frontier. When the women arrived in Deadwood they found that they were stranded, victims of a virtual white slave trade, forced to work in abominable conditions and perform disreputable acts."
However well-grounded in actual events, the cursing strikes me as anachronistic. Not because I think cowboys talked like Jimmy Stewart. But I doubt that a certain appellation peppered throughout the dialogue was really the curse of choice in the late 19th century.
Was life on the stateless frontier really so Hobbesian? Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill have argued otherwise. But human nature being what it is, it shouldn't surprise us that the state of nature is sometimes Lord of the Flies instead of Little House on the Prairie. And that's the way it goes when the state enters the picture as well.
comments powered by Disqus
Charles R Martin - 6/23/2004
I always love it when academics get into these things, because, see, the Old West wasn't *that* long ago. In this case, as a child, I grew up with our head wrangler, who had been a deputy sherrif in Deadwood and Pueblo, and another hand who had been one of Pancho Villa's soldiers.
Old Bill, the head wrangler, swore a blue streak, using every one of those words -- as well as the sort of creative blasphemy one associates with a drill instructor -- and insisted he never said anything I hadn't heard his mother day.
So I suspect those words were quite common.
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Tourism spot for Colonial Williamsburg shocks some New Yorkers during Super Bowl 50 for use of 9/11 attack footage
- We asked 6 political scientists if Bernie Sanders would have a shot in a general election
- The price of oil has plummeted and with it Russia’s finances
- Legal scholars at Harvard debate Cruz’s eligibility to serve as president
- Has one of Sally Hemings’s siblings been neglected by history unfairly?
- Retired historian George Dennison remains on the payroll at the U. of Montana while faculty are cut
- The Atlantic profiles exciting ways to teach history
- LDS Church has gone from 0 to 4 historians specializing in women’s history
- American Historical Association protests Turkey’s crackdown on historians and other academics who signed a a petition critical of the Turkish government
- Israeli historian Yair Auron lays out details of a massacre in 1948