Prairie Republic: Political Culture of Dakota Territory 1879-1889 by John Lauke
Prairie Republic corrects an overemphasis on class conflict and economic determinism, factors posited decades ago by such historians as Howard R. Lamar. Instead, Lauck finds South Dakota’s political founders to be agents of Protestant Christianity and of civic republicanism—an age-old ideology that entrusted the polity to independent, landowning citizens who placed the common interest above private interest. Focusing on the political culture widely shared among settlers attracted to the Great Dakota Boom of the 1880s, Lauck shows how they embraced civic virtue, broad political participation, and agrarian ideals. Family was central in their lives, as were common-school education, work, and Christian community.