Unlikely story
In the winter of 1869, the seventeen-year-old Hardin drove into Tovash - one of the many towns where brothels, saloons and gambling houses worked around the clock. Hardin, as always,…

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The story of Joaquin Murieta
The story of Joaquin Murieta and his fellow criminals began, later glorified as heroes of resistance to American expansion. Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters California gangster.…

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Millstones of fate of Billy Kid
If the famous sheriff Pat Garrett and some other people who knew him would not have left their written memories of him, we would never have known that in childhood…

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Typical cowboy in caps

As a sheriff, a man with a rhino skin, bulletproof head, able to see everything around him, run faster than a horse, not afraid of anything and neither in Hades [1], nor in Coolidge; a man who knows how to shoot, like Captain Adam Bogardus, and who is better at shooting four to five drunken rowdy people before breakfast than sits down without such a morning charge.

Despite the seeming frivolity of this announcement, published in July 1886 in the Border Ruffian, Coolidge residents nodded their heads approvingly as they read it. Only such qualities could help the daredevil, who decided to take the post of sheriff in their troubled little town, survive; and only such qualities could help him pacify thieves, robbers and other troublemakers. After all, their city was in the heart of the American Wild West …

Establishing the law in the Wild West, where every man had the right to carry weapons, has long remained a serious problem. The expanses of the undeveloped lands of the West attracted not only honest people who were ready to work tirelessly from dawn to dawn – after the end of the Civil War, criminals of all stripes came from different parts of the country. In those days when there was still no telephone, Internet and television, it was easy for bandits to get lost in the endless plains where no one knew them. The territory of some counties [2] could be 10,000-15,000 square kilometers, and the local sheriff was not able to keep track of everything that happened in the area entrusted to him. The sheriff was allowed to hire several assistants who simplified his work, but not enough to cope with the rampant crime. In addition to theft and robbery, representatives of the law had to intervene in clashes between owners of large and small ranches, between farmers and herders, US citizens and immigrants from other countries. Real wars were fought between cattle owners and sheep breeders. All these conflicts usually ended in shooting, in which both white and black, and those guilty, and innocent died. Many representatives of the law died trying to restore order. In Texas alone, over a hundred legalists were killed in ten years from 1869 to 1878.

The most serious in the Wild West were considered four types of crimes: cold-blooded murder, rape, theft of horses or cattle. Until 1874, livestock and herds grazed freely on open pastures. So that the owners did not confuse their animals, they were branded with a hot iron. The stigma could be numbers, letters or any characters. This, however, did not prevent thieves from stealing herds and herds and changing stigmas. But in 1874, a sixty-year-old farmer, Joseph Glidden, patented the barbed wire he had invented and organized a company in Illinois to produce it. Soon, most private pastures were surrounded by barbed wire, which made it very difficult to steal cattle and horses. In addition, the National Anti-theft Association, whose members announced a real hunt for thieves, was gaining strength [3].

This state of affairs has forced many bandits to retrain and direct their efforts to banks and trains. In the banks, you could take a big jackpot, but even if the robbery was successful, the townspeople immediately collected the chase, and the bandits had to make a lot of efforts to hide. By the mid-1870s, robbing banks was even more difficult. The townspeople began to organize volunteer squads to guard them. Robbing trains was easier than banks [4]. The train could be stopped anywhere – at a small station or in the wilderness, and while representatives of the law gathered the chase, the bandits could slip away unnoticed. But wealthy railroad owners used the services of the Wells Fargo and Pinkerton detective agencies. Their detectives, like hunting dogs, began the hunt for the guilty and did not calm down until they caught them. “We never sleep!” Was the Pinkerton agency’s motto. The agency’s methods were so effective that in 1908, when the US government established the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the agency’s model was taken as the basis.
Arrows of the Wild West. Sheriffs, bandits, cowboys, gunfighters
Typical cowboy in caps

But not all the robberies were successful. A caught bandit or thief most often immediately expected a noose around his neck and a short trip to the nearest bitch. Executions of this kind were called the “Lynch Court”. The culprits were usually hanged quickly and without trial, and sometimes completely “innocent” people suffered “by mistake”. There were times when the vigilantees thus decided their mercantile interests, getting rid of objectionable competitors [5]. Residents of the Wild West knew about deliberate and accidental “mistakes” and yet considered the Lynch court a more effective means of combating bandits than a legal court. After all, with a good lawyer, caught criminals often left the courtroom completely acquitted! Although here the fate of the offender was largely dependent on which judge would consider his case.

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The present re-invention of the tradition of the West as a mass phenomenon that captured American politics is the product of the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan eras. And of…

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The new cowboy tradition made its way into the big world in two directions: Western films and heavily undervalued Western novels, which for many foreigners were the same as detectives…

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