Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nat Love: “See America”

Nat 'Deadwood Dick' Love
In my review of Nat Love’s autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, I mention a section of the book in which Nat Love (a former slave, cowboy and Pullman porter) urges his fellow Americans to “see America”. It is such an exciting piece of inspired writing that I thought it worth quoting in full on this blog.

It has always seemed strange to me that so many Americans rush off to Europe and foreign countries every year in search of health and pleasure, or to climb the Alps in Switzerland, and to view the scenery of the old world, when our own North America, the new world, offers so many better opportunities to study Dame Nature in all her phases, and I always say to the traveling American, "See America." How many of you have done so? Only those who have seen this grand country of ours can justly appreciate the grandeur of our mountains and rivers, valley and plain, canyon and gorge, lakes and springs, cities and towns, the grand evidences of God's handiwork scattered all over this fair land over which waves the stars and stripes.

Go to New York and view the tall buildings, the Brooklyn bridge, the subway, study the works of art to be found there, both in statuary and painting, ponder on the vast volume of commerce carried on with the outside world. Note the many different styles of architecture displayed in the palace of the millionaire and the house of the humble tradesman, view the magnificent Hudson river and the country homes along its grassy, tree-lined shores, note the ships from every clime riding at anchor in the East river. Then speculate on the changes that have been wrought in the course of the short time since Manhattan Island was purchased from the Indians by Pete Minuts [sic] for a few blankets and beads amounting in value to $24.00. Then board the Pennsylvania Limited, whose trains are the acme of modern railroading and go to Washington, the nation's capital city. Walk along Pennsylvania avenue and note its beauty. Visit the capitol and let your chest swell out with pride that you are an American.

Visit the tomb of General Grant and the thousand and one magnificent statues scattered throughout the city. Visit Annapolis and West Point, where the leaders of the nation's navy and army are trained. Walk over the battlefields of Fredricksburg, Gettysburg and Lexington, and let your mind speculate on the events that made modern history.

Note the majestic Potomac and the Washington monument. Take a short trip north and see the great Niagara Falls, listen to what they tell you in their mighty roaring voice. Go to Pittsburgh where the great steel works are located, and see how the steel pen and the steel cannon are made. Go to Chicago, that western hive of commerce. See the Great Lakes, or better still take a cruise on them. Note the great lumber industry of Michigan, and the traffic of the lakes. Go to Kansas City and Omaha and see the transformation of the Texas steer into the corned beef you ate at your last picnic, or was it chipped beef? See the immense stock yards with their thousands of cattle, hogs and sheep, and think of the thousands of people that they feed.


The proud Pullman porter
Cross the Missouri river and enter on the plains of the great and recently unknown west. Think of the pioneer who in 1849 traversed these once barren stretches of prairie, walking beside his slow-moving ox team, seeking the promised land, breaking a trail for the generations that were to come after him as you are coming now in a Pullman car. Think of the dangers that beset him on every hand, then wonder at the nerve he had, then again let your chest swell with pride that you are an American, sprung from the same stock that men were composed of in those days.
Note the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains as they rise from the plains, their peaks snow-capped, glistening in clear blue sky, breathe the pure essence of life, drink of the crystal streams twinkling down their sides, then scorn the wine made by man. Listen to the salute of the bells and the whistles as the trains approach and pass that strange monument of nature's handiwork, the Mount of the Holy Cross.

Go to the Yellowstone National Park and revel in the wonders thereof, walk in the garden of the Gods and listen to the voice of the Giant Geyser as it sends forth its torrents of boiling water. Bathe in the life-giving springs and mud baths. Note the fantastic forms of the rocks and trees, carved by the hand of nature, then go to Colorado Springs and climb Pikes Peak and behold the world stretch out before you in valley, mountain and plain. Visit the mines of Leadville and Cripple Creek, the store houses of a part of the nation's wealth.

Nat Love and family
Visit Denver and see the strides made in the improvement of the west in a short time. Board the Denver & Rio Grande train and note the magnificent scenery of mountain, canyons, gorges and the beautiful mountain lakes and streams, note the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the royal gorge. Now note the great white expanse of the great Salt Lake, as it lies glistening in the rays of the setting sun, and think of the stories you have heard of it until the conductor brings you back to earth with the cry of "Ogden."

Note this bustling railroad center in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, and acknowledge our country's greatness. Visit Salt Lake City, the "City of Zion," the Canaan of the new world. See the beautiful city nestling within the protection of the Warsatch and Oquirrh range of mountains. Walk its wide tree-lined streets, visit the tabernacle and hear the sweet strains of the world's greatest organs. See the Mormon temple. Visit Saltair and sport in the waves of the briny sea. Board the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake westbound train and cross the end of this same lake, one of nature's wonders.


Cross the desert of Nevada, which was only a short time ago a desert waste, on and on until you smell the orange blossoms of sunny California, and the train emerges from the mountains and brings into view the grand Pacific Ocean. See the big trees of California, the seals and the scenery of the Yosemite Valley. Visit the orange groves and the vineyards, and partake of the orange and the grape.

Visit Catalina Island in the Pacific Ocean, and try a couple of hours fishing in its waters. Then take the Southern Pacific and return to New York by way of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, New Orleans, Florida and other southern states. Then again let your chest swell with pride that you are an American.

I think you will agree with me that this grand country of ours is the peer of any in the world, and that volumes cannot begin to tell of the wonders of it. Then after taking such a trip you will say with me, "See America." I have seen a large part of America, and am still seeing it, but the life of a hundred years would be all too short to see our country.

Quoted from: The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, better known in the cattle country as  "Deadwood Dick" — by himself. A true history of slavery days, life on the great cattle ranges and on the plains of the "wild and woolly" west, based on facts, and personal experiences of the author.

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Whew! Now there was a man who, despite being born into slavery, was able to carve out for himself and his family, a place in post-Civil War America, and who did so on his own terms – growing to love and embrace the United States.

If you are looking for something to download onto your computer, smart phone, Kindle, iPad or whatever your preferred electronic reading device may be, I highly recommend The Life and Adventures of Nat Love.

Visit the Gutenberg.Org download page for Nat Love’s book…


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3 comments:

  1. Nat love was a amazing Bronc Rider eventhough he was black his race is not denied from his history.I think that someday there may be another black champ Bronc rider but from there on i believe no one can outbeat the legacy of Deadwood Dick.:}

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Anon,

    Nat Love was clearly an amazing individual, and as I wrote in my review of his book, "If ever there was a story crying out to be turned into a great Hollywood movie, the story of Nat Love is it."

    I think Will Smith would be great for the role.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Come to think of it, Will Smith's son, Jaden Smith could even play Nat Love as a boy. For once the child actor and the adult actor might even look the same!

    ReplyDelete

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