Law and order

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  • Created on: 13-04-14 12:32
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  • American West - Law and Order
    • Why was there lawlessness in the West?
      • Geographical factors - The West was a vast area and transport was very slow, making it difficult to enforce law and order.
        • As the offender could commit the crime and get away quicker than the law enforcers could get there.
        • The Permanent Indian Frontier was moving further and further West, so there was more and more land to cover.
      • Economic Factors - there were many potential sources of conflict between the different economic groups.
        • Cowboys vs. townspeople
        • Homesteaders vs. ranchers
        • Miners vs. hunters
        • Sheep herders vs. ranchers
        • Cattle barons vs. small ranchers
      • Political factors - there was a shortage of reliable law enforcement law and new mining and cow towns were particularly lawless in their early years.
        • Enforcement officers and politicians did not think it important enough to spend money on.
      • Social Factors - there were many potential conflicts between different ethnic groups and after the civil war thousands of people were demobilised and many weren't ready to forgive and forget what happened.
      • Values and Attitudes
        • the West was dominated by a primitive code of honour which said it was your responsibility to settle things for yourself.
        • Many people carried guns so things would often end in a shooting
        • If you shot a man in self-defence, then you had not broken the law, as long as the other man was armed.
    • Types of crimes
      • Immediately after the Civil War some of the ex-confederate guerrilla fighters turned to bank robbery.
      • Cattle rustling wasn't common as herds of cattle roaming freely on the range were easy targets.
        • The branding of the cattle could easily be altered and young cattle that hadn't yet been branded were also easy targets.
      • Claim jumping was common near gold and silver mining areas as people tried to steal the land others had already claimed,
      • Fence cutting was commonly commited by homesteaders and small ranchers as they were trying to avoid being cut off from water or forced out altogether by the cattle barons.
      • Horses were extremely valuable so horse stealing was regarded as a serious crime. Horse thieves were often hanged.
        • But for the Plains Indians, it was essential for their way of life.
      • Racial Attacks
        • Many of the Chinese were encouraged to migrate to the US where they helped make the railroads.
        • At a coal-mining centre in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1885, 51 Chinese were killed and over 400 others were expelled from the town.
      • Shootings
      • Train Robbery. This caused the companies to have to strengthen doors, employing tougher guards and guards better weapons.
    • The forces of law and order
      • US Marshals
        • They were appointed by the President to oversee a state.
        • As it was such a vast area, the marshals would appoint deputies who worked on a more local basis.
      • Town Marshals
        • These were often appointed by the towns people and they were often elected on a yearly basis.
      • Sheriffs
        • These were elected every 2 years by the people of a county.
      • The Texas Rangers
        • Established in 1820.
        • They were a small army that were employed to enforce the law in Texas, there were also Arizona Rangers.
      • Judges
        • They were appointed by the President to try cases. Each state had three judges to supervise.
        • However, there weren't enough as many prisoners had to be held before their trial.
      • The Pinkerton Detective Agency
        • These were hired as a private company to provide protection.
    • Vigilantes - good or evil?
      • They were people who took the law into their own hands.
      • When they identified someone whom they believed to be a criminal they punished them.
      • There were over 200 vigilante groups west of the Mississippi.
    • Billy the Kid


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