Monday, December 13, 2010

The Blind Senator from Minnesota

The Blind Senator from Minnesota; By G. Daniel Harden; Front Porch Republic

It has been observed of many of the early twentieth century progressives that it was difficult to say whether they were on the far left or the far right or both simultaneously, but you were safe to identify them as radical, whichever political directions the wind took at the moment. They certainly weren’t the sort of consistent free marketers that would have satisfied the von Mises criteria, but they were often great decentralizers and opponents of any large scale concentration of power. Such was the case of a largely forgotten, but colorful and articulate United States Senator from Minnesota, Thomas D. Schall.

Schall came from a broken family before broken families were cool, so to speak. In the early 1880s his father took off for what he believed would be sunnier climes in the Missouri boot heal and left his wife of almost twenty years with three children to feed in the small town of Reed City, Michigan. She did, but barely, and young Tom never set foot in a school until he was 12 years old after the family had migrated to the Minnesota-North Dakota border country. He made rapid progress as a young scholar, but perhaps more as a young pugilist, baseball player, and competitive orator. He worked his way through Hamline College in St. Paul by organizing his own laundry service, and always had an eye for profitable exchange of goods and services.

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