Are you a law abiding citizen? Perhaps you are, but despite that, it’s quite possible that you’ve broken the law without really knowing it, many times.

For example, if you have ever danced in Fargo with a hat on, you have broken the law.

Worse than that, if you have ever attended a party wearing a hat and didn’t even dance, but others did, you have broken the law. That’s because it’s illegal to wear a hat at a party in Fargo where other people are dancing.

Then there is another law that I know you have broken: It’s illegal to nap in North Dakota with your shoes on. Which begs the question, is there anyone who has never napped in North Dakota with their shoes on?

One has to wonder why lawmakers are still creating new laws and stacking them on top of old laws when some of the outdated ones smell like lutefisk left under the back seat of a car for a week.

In addition, isn’t it interesting that we, throughout the generations, have published such superficial versions of what really happened in our history books?

For example, in his book entitled “Undaunted Courage,” published in 1996, renowned historian Stephen Ambrose revealed a few more real historical tidbits that you might not have known about our heroes William Clark and Merriweather Lewis, of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition.

To begin with, did you know that Thomas Jefferson had already hired someone else to do the expedition long before the Lewis and Clark group was hired?

That’s right, his name was Andre Michaux and he was a French botanist who, Jefferson later discovered, was actually a secret agent for the French Republic. You see he had used Jefferson’s well-funded expedition as a vehicle to recruit an army of American militia to attack Spanish settlements on the other side of the Mississippi River.

Now, how do you think it would have gone for Jefferson at that time if the media had found out about that little presidential misstep?

It’s also interesting to note that, after having returned from the Lewis & Clark expedition, one of the expedition members, a Sgt. Gass, sold his journal to a publisher long before the official publication, penned by Merriweather Lewis, was completed.

What was the result? Quite a bit of chaos, which led Lewis to write a letter to the public where he gave reasons why readers should support his “official” account rather than the Gass version.

In addition, few of us know that, when the expedition got back to St. Louis, many of the members sold items and artifacts from the trip for personal gain.

Plus it is also interesting to note that one of their favorite methods for treating illness at that time was to ingest tablets laced with mercury. Now mercury can be a fatal poison at worst or just pass through the body at best. But today, scholars can trace the route of the expedition simply by following the mercury deposits left behind.

Of course, maybe those are just irrelevant tidbits that need not be reported. Or maybe author John Still summed up the history in our textbooks best in his work, “The Jungle Tide,” when he said, “The memories of men are too frail a thread to hang history from.”

Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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