Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nimrod O' Kelly

Many Americans might recall nearly half of America was once French.  Many grip onto the English and French love/hate relations, calling the French "frogs," and even calling a burger's company "freedom fries."  

But all states west of the (Mississippi) derive from this origin.  Each state's internal design, indeed, was to follow a new Cartesian innovation for distribution as well.  

That is, all states west of said river, naturally, have county boundaries.  From here, Thomas Jefferson's genius began in designing squares within the larger squares.  

"Townships" are six (square) miles on each square's side.  Individual square miles consist of 640 acres.  From here, land developers have, ever since, filed with the county and / or city to "subdivide" the parcels into their future developments... .

President Jefferson sent James Monroe, a fellow architect of our Constitution, to finalize one of our nation's greatest real estate contracts - The Louisiana Purchase.

From it, many territories were pioneered and settled.  Congress passed Donation Land Grants that incentivized westward expansion.

"Manifest Destiny" may ring memory's bell.  Yes, basins were recorded and mountains named.  But every natural and artificial boundary or landmark, once established by our colonies, eventually required recordation after private Americans laid their weathered, strained grasps to stake out their land.  

Each man was promised a certain amount of land if i) improved and ii) occupied for iii) a duration of time.  These are the promises from which more than half of our states have, to this day, been united as America.  

In Oregon, one square mile beckoned and presented 78 year old Nimrod's finest dream. 

Nimrod is the lead character and title of Richard Lansing's non-fiction.  

This Oregonian law professor tracks the fresh breath of the American spirit.  Tomorrow's get-up, chastened and dared to rebirth what the horizon might bear to gift to the industrious.  This was Nimrod's case.

Nimrod's trial was documented on multiple criminal dockets and pitted in numerous civil offices spanning America's two oceanic coasts.  

Not so different from today, he endured much competition and, later, conflicted falsity and violence towards his endeavors. 

Besides recommending the book, it adds depth to time and place.  The features, details and terms challenge the reader to step out of their obligatory and selfish routines, to re-examine their surroundings, to dream of new "back-to-the-future" possibilities.

This is an American story of a man born at our country's penning, tracing his ambitions through our nation's internal civil strife.  With accounts and records extending into the 20th century, it is a fitting reading in the 21st. 


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