Charlie Anderson Takes On The Feds

Last week I quoted a scene from Shenandoah where anarcho-capitalist Charlie Anderson (played by Jimmy Stewart) stood up to a Confederate officer who came to enlist his sons. There’s another fine scene later when the feds show up to “buy” Anderson’s horses for the war effort. They arrive as delegation of about ten men, headed by a federal representative of some sort named Carroll who is being advised by a man named Tinkum. Anderson recognizes Tinkum as a horse thief, it’s little wonder the feds have hired him to find the best horses. The feds just start looking over the horses and talking between themselves as Anderson looks on with increasing dissatisfaction. Soon the feds start making decisions.

Carroll: We’ll take these…

Anderson: (forcefully) What do you mean take ’em?

Charlie and his eldest son Jacob approach the feds.

Tinkum: Well howdy Mr. Anderson, I ain’t seen you in quite a spell.

Anderson: I don’t get around to visiting jails much Tinkum.

Tinkum: This here is Mr. Carroll, Mr. Osbourne, and Mr. Marshall. They’re our federal purchasing agents.

Carroll: That’s right Mr. Anderson. Although we’ve got a set price that we can pay, I’d like to hear what you think these animals are worth.

Jacob: The horses aren’t for sale.

Anderson: Now what my son tells you is the gospel truth gentlemen, and you can carve his words in stone if you’ve a mind to. The horses are not for sale.

Carroll: Now that may be, but I just think I oughta tell you we’re authorized to confiscate anything we can’t buy.

Anderson’s youngest boy has never heard the word…

Boy: What’s confiscate mean Pa?

Anderson: Steal.

Anderson identifies it without hesitation.

Carroll: You know, I don’t think you quite understand…

Jacob: You’re not gonna take one horse off this farm mister, so you might as well forget it.

Carroll: I thought you said these were reasonable people.

Tinkum: Everybody in the county knows they’re just sitting out the war.

Carroll: I, I think what Mr. Tinkum means is that he figured anybody who’s uh, too yellow to fight wouldn’t mind making a few dollars off of the war…

Jacob: Yellow?

He lunges for Carroll but Charlie Anderson intercepts his son.

Anderson: I apologize for my son’s manners Mr. Carroll, he was taught to have more respect for his elders.

Carroll: I accept your apology sir.

Anderson: Jacob, I don’t know what gets into you every once in a while. You know you shouldn’t hit this gentleman…while I’m around!

Charlie pops Carroll squarely on the chin, and a brawl breaks out between the Andersons and the feds. It goes on for a bit in the old comic movie style until Carroll has had enough and pulls out a pistol to shoot Charlie in the back. Instead Charlie’s daughter Jenny shoots the gun from his hand with a rifle. She orders the feds off the farm; they pick themselves up and leave.

Anderson: That fellow Tinkum is the the only man I know who started at the bottom and went down. He used to steal horses for nothing, now he gets paid for it.

Jacob. Pa? First it was Johnson. Then it was on our land. And now they come driving right up into our yard. Aren’t we gonna do something about it?

Anderson: Now, I must be getting old. Seems to me we just did.

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