American West: Topic 3 - Law and Order

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  • Topic 3 - Law and Order
    • Reasons
      • Geographical
        • Vast areas of land with slow transport
      • Political
        • Towns grew quickly
        • Lack of reliable officers in place
        • Government did not think it necessary to train officers
      • Social
        • Lots of Ethnic groups living close together
        • Civil War soldiers found it hard to adjust to normal life
      • Attitudes
        • The West believed in a code of honour
        • Men were happy to settle disputes with guns and 'manliness'
      • Economic
        • Friction between homesteaders, barons, ranchers, miners)
    • Crimes
      • Bank Robbery
        • Ex-soldiers turned to robbery after the Civil War
      • Train Robbery
        • 1870-1880 = realgar train robberies by fans of outlaws
        • These were so successful that Train companies had to take actions
      • Shootings
        • many men became gunfighters
      • Racial attacks
        • Blacks, Indians, Mexicans, Chinese all suffered racial attacks
      • Horse Stealing
        • Horses were essential but stealing them was punishable by hanging
      • Cattle rustling
        • Often stolen before branding
        • Cowboys would steal cattle to start their own ranch
      • Fence Cutting
        • Homesteaders would cut through the cattle barons barbed wire to access water
    • Control
      • US Marshalls
        • Appointed by the President to oversee a state
      • Town Marshalls
        • Appointed by a town annually
      • Sheriffs
        • Elected by county people but had to look after a large area of land (often too big)
      • Texas Rangers
        • Small army of lawmen employed to enforce law in Texas
      • Judges
        • Appointed by the President to enforce law
        • Criminals often escaped before trial
        • Calamity Jane - strong female figure who enforced the law
      • Vigilantes
        • People who took the law into their own hands
        • Caused a lot of trouble due to punishing innocent people
      • Problems
        • Corruption
          • Some sheriffs were often corrupt
          • Some could be bribed with money or protection
        • Pay
          • Most law jobs were badly paid so men were not willing to become lawmen
            • Some could be bribed with money or protection


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