Last week we began a journey through a growth period of our great nation as it would have appeared during the lifetime of one individual.  I chose my grandfather simply because his lifespan encompassed a wonderful part of our country.  This time scale could be anyone and for those of my generation it could just as easily be their grandparent’s lifespan or for a later generation it would represent the lifespan of a great grandparent.  I even know one special 101-year-old lady that could relate this part of the history of this country to her own parents.  It doesn’t matter who took this journey, the amazing part is what was accomplished in America in only one lifetime.

Last week we left off at the turn of the century, 1900, when Harvey Fields was seventeen.  So far in his life Edison lit up the night with his DC supplied electricity.  Although Edison is credited with the electric light bulb, it was Tesla that convinced the world that Alternating Current, AC, was the way to transport electricity and that is what we have today.  The x-ray was discovered while massacres of Indians took place and Teddy Roosevelt stormed up San Juan Hill and won the Congressional Medal Of Honor.  America became a world power no longer to be looked down on by an imperialistic world.

In 1902 Fields graduated from Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, now Louisiana Tech University, with a degree in Journalism.  This would have been a marvelous time for anyone in the newspaper business.  Gentlemen wearing their white suits and hats would capture the stories of the day and there was a lot to write about.

In 1901 five Indian Tribe were granted American Citizenship.  That same year Theodore Roosevelt became president following the assassination of President McKinley.    He then began his campaign to dismember huge monopolies such as Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.   A year later and Roosevelt had enacted forest conservation legislation.

America began dabbling in imperialistic activities in 1903.  The United States had already annexed Hawaii and American Somoa.  In 1903 America supported an uprising that led to Panama being separated from Columbia.  This would then allow the United States to begin work on one of the greatest engineering marvels in history, the Panama Canal.  That same year two brothers that owned a bicycle repair shop took their newest invention to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and for a few brief seconds a human flew under external power; aviation was born.

A year later America flexed its’ expanding muscles as Roosevelt declared that the United States had the right to intervene in Latin America.

In 1905 Fields graduated from Tulane University and with a law degree in hand proceeded to set up practice in the rural north Louisiana town of Farmerville.  What guided him to Farmerville is unknown; perhaps he visited the town while at Louisiana Tech but it was definitely far from the bright lights of New Orleans and Baton Rouge.  That same year he was elected to become the Alderman of Farmerville.

America is changing, morphing, into a new nation far from what was in place in 1776 when the founding fathers founding the country.  It was quickly moving from an agriculture-only country to a manufacturing nation that was quickly gaining world respect.  In 1907 Indian Territory was opened up to settlers and the eastern half of Oklahoma was “tamed” and the Oklahoma Land rush began.  Settlers that slipped across American military lines to stake claim to property before the territory was officially opened were referred to as “Sooners”.  The name is carried today by the University of Oklahoma football team.  As soon as the territory was opened for settlement, Oklahoma became a state.

A year after cowboys, settlers and store owners had staked claim to the Oklahoma territory, an inventor, engineer, entrepreneur and marketing genius started a business in the industrialized and much tamer state of Michigan.  Henry Ford launched the Ford Motor Company and a modern means of travel at an affordable price was born.  Fields had reached the ripe ole age of 25 and Louisiana had no paved roads.

In 1916 Fields won a seat in the Louisiana Senate.  To get to Baton Rouge he would have had to board a train in Monroe and for many grueling hours plod along numerous backwater towns until the train arrived in Baton Rouge.  The trip to Monroe would have possibly been by horse and wagon as the car was not traveling the roads of North Louisiana.

The year that Fields began his political careen Albert Einstein proposed his law of relativity.  The theory was simple, E=MC2 but the outcome of this finding was far from simple.  Nuclear power for electrical generation and weapons of mass destruction that could one day destroy the world had been theorized by a German of enormous intellect.

America and the world was changing at an alarming rate and much of this was due to the ability of the American Entrepreneurial Spirit to develop and grow with little hindrance from government regulations.

Next week we will see how America’s growth would expand overseas as the country went to the aid of the world in the war to end all wars, WWI.


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