Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tamanaha on The Wizard of Oz and the Gold Standard

Brian Tamanaha has an interesting post over on Balkanization, quoting a long passage from Jack Weatherford, The History of Money (1997), on The Wizard of Oz as political allegory. It reads in part (these quotes from Weatherford):
The most memorable work of literature to come from the debate over gold and silver in the United States was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900, by journalist L. Frank Baum, who greatly distrusted the power of the city financiers and who supported a bimetallic dollar based on both gold and silver. Taking great literary license, he summarized and satirized the monetary debate and history of the era through a charming story about a naive but good Kansas farm girl named Dorothy, who represented the average rural American citizen. Baum seems to have based her character on the Populist orator Leslie Kelsey, nicknamed "the Kansas Tornado."
After the cyclone violently rips Dorothy and her dog out of Kansas and drops them in the East, Dorothy sets out on the gold road to fairyland, which Baum calls Oz, where the wicked witches and wizards of banking operate. Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, who represents the American farmer; the Tin Woodman, who represents the American factory worker; and the Cowardly Lion, who represents William Jennings Bryan. The party's march on Oz is a re-creation of the 1894 march of Coxey's Army, a group of unemployed men led by 'General' Jacob S. Coxey to demand another public issue of $500 million greenbacks and more work for common people.

The rest is here.

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

In Tamanha's final paragraph, he refers to a "serious (albeit tangential) point" regarding constitutional interpretation and originalism and suggests the benefit of "trained historians" (rather than just plain constitutional scholars?), although even they may have their problems, focusing upon original meaning (or original intent or original understanding or original whatever du jour). So let the legal historians, whose outlook on originalism may perhaps differ somewhat from constitutional scholars, pull apart the curtain on this topic.