01 February 2018


American history runs over with irony and contradictions. The gap between common beliefs and the evidence is especially true of the American West. The West revels in individualism, but the region as a whole is vastly more dependent upon the Federal government than the East.

Pamela Haag, The Gunning of America: Business and the making of American Gun Culture (2016) traces Samuel Colt and Oliver Winchester's efforts to make a business of the manufacture of firearms. She offers a compelling sentence that crystallizes a central irony in Western America.
No objects are more indelibly associated with the American West that the Colt revolver and the Winchester rifle, and yet no objects relied more heavily for their survival--before, but especially after, the Civil War--on non-U.S., global markets.
Haag, 35.
Samuel Colt's Cabinet of Memorials, for example, containing gifts from customers, contained a gold snuff box from the sultan of the Ottoman Empire; a ring from Alexander Alexandrovioch, the Russian grand duke; a ring from the king of Sardinia; a tea -caddy and cigar case from Siam; and other gifts from England, Italy, and the Islamic world.

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