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Territorial politics in the late-nineteenth-century West is typically viewed as a closed-door game of unprincipled opportunism or is caricatured, as in the classic film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as a drunken exercise in bombast and rascality. Now Jon K. Lauck examines anew the values we like to think were at work during the founding of our western states. Taking Dakota Territory as a laboratory for examining a formative stage of western politics, Lauck finds that settlers from New England and the Midwest brought democratic practices and republican values to the northern plains and invoked them as guiding principles in the drive for South Dakota statehood.