TRIALS AND TRAILS by Jim Halverson ***Guest Post - Spotlight - Giveaway***
Trials and Trails
With a past of slavery and compliance, LeRoy has learned to pick his battles carefully. Johnny B, a quick-tempered Sioux, is still learning to control his anger. When dangerous circumstances bond them together, the pair learn to navigate Reconstruction Era America and all its prejudices. They save an innocent man from hanging, reunite two old friends, assist in an honorable death for an elder Indian, and discover their worth as they steadily assimilate self-respect into their lives.
From Jim Halverson’s debut novel comes a tale of adventure, purpose, and the pursuit of self-actualization. Cowboys and psychology ride hand in hand, traveling a journey from living life on the edge to finding a place of belonging, joy, vulnerability, and distinction. Through trials along their trails, LeRoy and Johnny B transform people they meet, brand the world a better place, and reap the benefits.
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Are we still living in Post-Reconstruction America?
by Jim HalversonAt the end of the Reconstruction era, after 1870, the American West suffered from greed, hate, and the economic collapse of 1873. The great expanses of unspoiled landscapes, geologic wonders, wild rivers, and unsettled territories could still be found by men and women willing to enter the untamed land. The great buffalo herds disappeared, although small herds continued to roam in ever smaller areas. Beavers, river otters, suffered the same fate of the buffalo. Elk, antelope, big horn sheep, bears, and deer fared better, but their numbers also decreased. Change was the only constant. The Emancipation Proclamation had been signed, the 14th, 15th, and 16th amendments to the constitution were the law of the land, several treaties had been negotiated between the U.S. Government and Native American Indian tribes, and a railroad connected the nation.
So, to the uninitiated and uninformed, the West should have been a great opportunity for people of color. But, there was more at work. A racist president, Andrew Johnson, apathy in the northern states, the rise of groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Knights of White Camellia all created an atmosphere that slowed and eventually halted all interest, effort, and money needed to finish Lincoln’s work.
The Colfax Massacre in 1873 typified the horror of the time. When Black voters in Colfax, Louisiana won the election for the Republicans, armed white democrats decided to take back the Colfax Parrish Courthouse from the black and white officeholders. When the smoke cleared, three white people and one hundred fifty Blacks were dead. Jim Crow laws were being written and imposed. Few former slaves had options, and many were economically forced into sharecropping because the cotton fields still needed tending. Even that refuge proved devastating because the Blacks had no recourse when they were cheated and defrauded out of their rightful shares.
Native Americans suffered equally. The Dakota War of 1862 foretold the Native Americans’ plight on the plains. Native Americans fought to uphold established treaties, always with bad endings. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 made it easier for the Federal Government to appropriate land previously owned by Native Americans. The greed of the westward expansion continued to provoke incidents that led to proclamations like General William Sherman’s1866 call for “at least ten Indians are to be killed for each white life lost.” Distrust and hatred eventually led to Custer’s last stand in 1876 and the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. Even California was not immune to Native American massacres. In 1873 General Canby’s death sparked the Modoc Indian war.
During the post reconstruction era, a volatile mix of unemployed northern emigrants and economically displaced white southerners moved into the unsettled West. Discharged civil war soldiers, many of whom almost certainly suffered from what is now known as post traumatic stress disorder, brought their guns. Imagine men with guns, mental disorders, and minimal law enforcement. That was the recipe for cattle rustlers, bank robbers, train robbers, gun fighters, and vigilante committees.