When did America become too afraid to explore a frontier?

America’s idea of itself is inextricably tied to the opening of the American West. In the 19th century America embraced the entrepreneurs, and rugged individuals who sought to reinvent themselves by going west. 

Joe Manchin seems to have forgotten who we are. He seems to have forgotten that it was not the bankers or the boy scouts who opened the West, it was the entrepreneurs, and yes, the hucksters, and the speculators, and all manner of flawed characters looking for a place where they could enjoy the relative freedom of the frontier, away from the tentacles of an overreaching government.

He seems to have forgotten that, more than anything else, it was the frenzied speculation of the Gold Rush that led to California becoming a state, the building of roads, churches, and schools throughout California and the development of the transcontinental railroad that bound California to the rest of the United States.  

Senator Manchin says that we must protect innocent people from losing money by speculating in Bitcoin. As far as I know, we did not feel the obligation to protect the 49ers from losing money during the Gold Rush, and the vast majority of them lost everything they had. I would be shocked to learn that a meaningful number of them asked for help, just as I would be shocked to learn that anyone speculating in bitcoin today has asked Senator Manchin for help. 

I agree that America should lead, but we should lead in a way that is consistent with who we are. We have never before been afraid to explore a frontier. Why start now?