Ponderin' The Past...With The Vigilantes!

I recently read The Vigilante's Bride and was struck with curiousity after just reading the title. I had never before heard of a vigilante, and immediatly looked into it. I decided it would be a cool subject for our history post this week, so after quite a bit of searching here's what I've come up with.

A vigilante by definition is someone who takes the law into their own hands by punishing someone without any legal authority. In the 1800s groups of vigilantes were carrying out what's called "frontier justice" by holding trials of accused men and women for crimes such as theft, shootings, and rustling, and then promptly hanging the accused if they found them guilty. Although this was helpful to some in the 18th century, and perhaps to many seemed like justice, it was illegal and none of the accused received a fair and orderly trial.

Vigilantes did what they believed was right, as the authorites in the 18th century in Montana where this book takes place were scarce, crimes were common, and justice rarely was dispersed. I have, since reading this, often considered  whether vigilantes were good or bad, and had to decide that it just depends on the situation.

It was really neat to read about the vigilante life style in The Vigilante's Bride. Though I wouldn't consider it informative, it did make me look into it and I did enjoy learning information about it. It was very cool to learn about the vigilantes and what they stood for and carried out, and I continue to ponder whether the vigilante's actions were right. What do you think? Were the Vigilante's actions justified? :-)
Category: 3 comments


Diane said...

Probably they did what they had to to survive back then. Now it would be instant jail time..... :O)

Unknown said...

Diane: very true! And you are right; vigilantes these days to aquire instant jail time in consequence of their actions. Thanks for commenting!

- Kait

jcisawesome said...

Read "No One Is Illegal" and you will find better info on vigilantes in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento. They rushed to California in search of gold, there was little government. These men raped the natives, killed as many Mexican and Indians as possible, and enslaved the rest as miners (for gold, railroads, and coal) and farmers. They litterally "stole the West" as they ravaged towns, lynched Spanish-speaking and Native peoples, killing children and women, too. These men had children who became wealthy and powerful elite businesspeople in California. Take a look at some of the biggest buildings in LA, S.F, or San Diego and they have their names plated on their facades. Of course, the government was fine with all of this: they wanted the western territory, the gold, and the "slickbacks" dead. With modern technology, brutality and racist idealogies they got exactly what they wanted. Chinese and Japanese immigrants were treated probably a step higher than the blacks of the south. Vigilantes weren't great men. Of course, the history books tell a different story. After all, many writers of those books benefit today from the atrocities committed by vigilantes in the past.

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