How They Beat the Oregon Trail IRL

How did more than 300,000 people avoid bloodshed and chaos when they crossed the American plains between 1840 and 1860? Trappers used to say there was no law west of Leavenworth, Kansas.

No one established a government to rule the wagon trains — it’s true. But they governed themselves instead. They signed contracts that worked like voluntary constitutions. The contracts anticipated disputes among the various groups of travelers and laid out how to resolve them.

Imagine the red tape if the government had gone with the settlers. Marvel at the ability of people to innovate rules and order in a most unlikely setting. That’s what Hill advises. Tune in to hear more.

5 Comments

  1. Lukas Koube

    well, this was a funny video…i wish there were more specifics…or maybe more stats…i read somewhere (i think it was “The not so Wild Wild West”) that crime rates were actually much lower in the frontier than in the more populous areas. 

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