An article in the Boston Globe explored the idea that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books were written as anti-New Deal fables and are early documentations of Libertarian ideals.

The author Christine Woodside explores the Wilder family papers as well as letters to link the children’s books to Libertarian values. She claims that not only do the stories tell of a family of self-reliant pioneers, but that they were also shaped to refute the post-depression era rapid government expansion. She describes one passage as a praise of free-market capitalism:

The next book, “The Long Winter,” stops for a moment of free-market speechifying almost certainly added by Lane. When a storekeeper tries to overcharge starving neighbors who want to buy the last stock of wheat available, a riot seems imminent until the character based on Wilder’s father, Pa, Charles Ingalls, brings him into line: “This is a free country and every man’s got a right to do as he pleases with his own property….Don’t forget that every one of us is free and independent, Loftus. This winter won’t last forever and maybe you want to go on doing business after it’s over.” It’s an appealing, if perhaps wishful, distillation of the idea that a free market can regulate itself perfectly well. Wilder rarely wrote extended dialogue in her own recollections, the manuscripts show; her daughter most likely invented this long exchange.

She goes on to credit Rose Wilder Lane’s 1943  “The Discovery of Freedom” as a treatise on Libertarianism that Roger Lea MacBride would later use to help the newly found party rise out of the strong anti-communist movement.

It looks like I have some new reading material.

Ingalls Pioneers

 

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