America is the Land of Violence & Vice — and That’s OK

A Trip Through American Rascality: Gambling, Booze, & Crime from Vicksburg to Vegas

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Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Land of the Free, Home of the Compulsive Gambler

It’s often thought America’s love affair with gambling began with Las Vegas, but our vice runs much deeper. Lotteries, after all, were what bankrolled the infrastructure of the American colonies. Everything from roads to the Ivy League colleges that still stand today.

Sea Captains Carousing in Surinam (Wikimedia Commons)

String ’Em Up: Gambling Hells and River Boats

Vicksburg, Mississippi was one of several cities during the 1820’s and 30’s that was built on gambling.

Damn Rascals & Pure Rush

I’m not talking about the famed Old West badlands of Arizona or New Mexico. Though plenty red-blooded Americans were certainly in those parts too — where loose money, loose women, and lawlessness were as pervasive as the heat and dust. No, I’m talking about a city that couldn’t be further from its gambling and vice-filled roots than it is today. I’m talking about San Francisco.

From Prohibition to the City of Sin

As underground gambling and frontier life sauntered along toward the Twentieth Century, cocktails were well into their renaissance. By 1880, modern classics arrived in the form of the Martini, the Manhattan, the Fizz, the Sour, and the Julep. The bartender and their dazzling concoctions became a wonder for those who traveled here from foreign countries.

An illustration from The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, published in 1897. Internet Archive Book Images/Flickr
via Pixabay

Nation of Killer Slugs

As of 2019, there are 465 commercial casinos in America. Doesn’t seem like too much for such a vast land. On the other hand, over half of the leading casino companies worldwide are US-based. Kind of makes you proud. Meanwhile, there are over 14,000 McDonald’s chains. Why are we still so timid as a gambling people, despite it laying the foundation for the very country that we kill to defend?

Writer 💀 Fiction/Nonfiction

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