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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Man Averse to Compromise

In The Argonauts of California (1890), author Charles Warren Haskins gives accounts of some of the rough types who frequented the saloons in mining towns:
One of these brave frontier ruffians made his stopping place and home at a way station, or bar-room, located upon the emigrant road a few miles from Hangtown, and was very frequently in the habit of accosting miners and strangers who had occasion to stop at the place, in a very rough and barbarous manner. He would draw a weapon, and ask if they had said their prayers and were ready to die, getting, of course, his whiskey free as a compromise, upon condition of putting up his weapons. Upon one occasion, however, he struck a customer, a regular old-fashioned, Jacksonian Democrat from Kentucky, who did not believe in compromising. As the latter stood at the bar enjoying his beverage, the border ruffian approached him with an immense bowie knife raised above his head, and inquired if the stranger had said his prayers that morning, at the same time making a motion as if to strike. The old Kentuckian remarked that he had not, as he had done all his praying in his younger days, and enough, he reckoned, to last him the rest of his life, at the same time drawing his pistol from his belt, and sending a ball crashing through the brain of the desperado. No inquest, as the coroner did not think it was necessary.

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