Law and order problems were caused by 2 systems of government
The rapid development of the west after 1840 added to lawlessness
The ‘Wild West’ was eventually tamed and outlaws and range wars ended
How was law enforced in the early days?
Law and order was shared between the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT in Washington and the various states who could appoint a governor and government
60,000 needed to become a state
Until then all officials appointed and dealt with by Washington
What problems will this cause?
Sheriffs and Marshals
US (Federal) Marshals had authority over all territories and states
States were sub-divided into counties and towns with their law officers
Sheriffs in counties and Marshals in towns
What problems were there in the early years?
The Wild West? Why were there law and order problems?
According to films the west was lawless with gangs and fights everywhere
Exaggerated because as settlements grew the west settled down. However,
Decisions from Washington were slow
The size of areas to cover
The speed of settlement AND
Shortage of law officers
Corrupt law officers
The nature of the settlers especially in mining areas (Dodge City) and cow towns (Abilene)
How did people deal with the problems?
Miners developed their own courts
Some areas formed ‘Vigilance committees’ who took law and order into their own hands
Their punishments included lynching
Why were they a force for good and bad?
What about gangs?
The problems made it relatively easy for people to break the law
There were several infamous gunslingers and gangs (see other ppt!)
There were female outlaws too such as Belle Star
Sometimes wealthy cattlemen hires gangs to deal with their disputes with homesteaders
Why were there disputes?
Over open range versus fencing
Destruction of crops by cattle
Water access and rights
What disputes were there?
Lincoln County war in 1892, New Mexico. This was between John Chisum an owner of a small ranch and Lawrence Murphy, a small rancher
In 1892 the Johnson County War in Wyoming between the homesteaders and the cattle ranchers
The cattle boom was over. Cattle ranchers in Wyoming blamed their problems on homesteaders whose barbed wire fences ended open range
It began with a dispute over land ownership between a rancher (A.J.Bothwell) and a storekeeper (Jim Averill). Jim lived with a prostitute (Ella Watson) who was often paid with cows which she then re-branded!
Bothwell accused them of rustling and they were lynched.
Neither Bothwell or the lynchers were ever brought to trial
How did it descend to war?
The cattlemen drew up a list of 70 farmers they believed to be rustlers and hire a vigilante group (the Regulators) to sort them out.
The railroad laid on a special train to get them to Wyoming!
The Regulators killed two alleged rustlers (Nate Champion and Nick Ray)
A large posse of local people came to deal with the vigilantes who holed up at a ranch called the TA
What happened next?
More locals surrounded the ranch – about 250 men were prepared to kill the Regulators
The ranchers (very powerful) via the Governor appealed for help and the army were sent in and were able to bring the stand off to a peaceful end
NO prosecutions were ever brought
How were law and order problems solved?
Better communication – railroad and telegraph
More families moved west and were not prepared to tolerate lawlessness
More territories became states and so important decisions were not made hundreds of miles away
Surroundings improved as shanty towns gave way to proper towns