Law

Wikimedia Commons

Seems easy enough, simple and true: once you're free, that’s it--no going back. Free at last. Makes sense.

Well, not so. In the case of more than one slave and former slave, being free for a time, or having been free for months or even years, was not a ticket to ride because by law in these United States it was altogether possible and perfectly legal for a free man or woman to be returned to an owner and thus chained up once more, improbable as that may seem.

O'Brien County Historical Society

Charles and Caroline Ingalls notwithstanding, some of our pioneer forbearers regularly ran afoul of the law, even though they were the law, the only law.

Once the federal government declared the land of the Yanktons, the land beneath my feet, was no longer the Yanktons and therefore open for settlement, the first white faces to make their way here were shysters. No one like them on Little House. All they cared about were the empty spaces this country might fill up in their own ledger books.