Why the Revisionist View is Wrong

(continued from part I)

They also ignore the legal complexities in a region without law. Congress had failed to attach the U.S. Constitution to Idaho Territory, in which Alder Gulch lay. The closest legislative authority was 500 miles across the mountains, and no federal mining law existed until 1866. Legally, miners were on their own. Unionists and Confederates came together at the Ives trial and agreed to go by the Common Law. The vigilantes joined forces to uphold the law.

If a novel takes sides in a historical dispute, it risks subordinating character development and story to serve an end. God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, though based on five years’ extensive research, begins from the questions: What might it have felt like to place the noose around the neck of a man you knew? What was it like to live through those days? The novel tells the story of Dan Stark, abolitionist attorney from New York, who becomes a vigilante prosecutor where ruffians rule and murder is tolerated.

Back to Part I


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