Skip to comments.Wild West cattle town murder rate: lower than US today
Posted on 08/11/2012 4:17:45 PM PDT by theBuckwheat
In following up on some research into anarcho-capitalism (how a society with a free-market economy can function with little or no government), I ran across this paper that contains some interesting facts that might provide useful references and quotes. As usual, the facts are quite at odds with what is commonly held to be true.
An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: the Not So Wild, Wild, West by Terry L. Anderson and P.J. Hill, Department of Economics, Montana State University
PDF of article: http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf
from page 6:
In his book, Frontier Violence: Another Look, W. Eugene Hollon stated that the believed [sic] "that the Western frontier was a far more civilized, more peaceful, and safer place than American society is today." The legend of the "wild, wild West" lives on despite Robert Dykstra's finding that in five of the major cattle towns (Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City and Caldwell) for the years from 1870 to 1885 only 45 homicides were reported- an average of 1.5 per cattle-trading season. In Abilene, supposedly on of the wildest of the cos towns, "nobody was killed in 1869 or 1870. In fact, nobody was killed until the advent of officers of the law, employed to prevent killings" Only two towns, Ells in 1873 and Dodge City in 1876, everhad five killings in any one year."
Some excerpts might be useful in public debates on gun control.
yeah but you couldn't get foodstamps, healthcare and porn on the internet.
Don’t discount our cultural degradation in describing why it is so good to be old right now.
An armed society, is a polite society...
“During its reckless cowtown period between 1879 and 1885, Caldwell “boasted a higher murder rate, and loss of more law enforcement officers than other more famous cowtowns. During this period, violence claimed the lives of 18 city marshals, leading a Wichita editor to write, “As we go to press hell is again in session in Caldwell.” “
The author did not do a wide enough survey. Check out the Lincoln County War. All that said, the West was not violent because they all had guns, the violent outbursts in our second-half of the 19th century history, in my opinion, can nearly all be traced back to unbridled greed.
A couple met untimely ends while in office. But many of them resigned (some under pressure). Some of those wound up running afoul of the law later. Which was not surprising because some had criminal pasts which they concealed in order to get the job (one was a member of Billy the Kid's gang) and eventually their pasts caught up with them (one was hanged for horse stealing).
What you'll generally find is that the saloon gang pretty much confined their gunslinging efforts to their associates and didn't bother ordinary townsfolk. This is sometimes referred to as "taking out the trash".
One of the better headlines from a Wichita paper: "The Festive Revolver: Again Its Voice Is Heard in the Land".
Being from the area, I recall my favorite Caldwell city marshal story.
Don't recall the particular marshal, but he begged off work for a week-or-two to "take a vacation".
He never returned.
Turned out he was hanged in Barber County, the next county over, for robbing the bank in Medicine Lodge.
People from the old west would be horrified by the violence in Chicago.
I am guessing he isn’t counting the pre 1876 numbers for Dodge City. In 1873 Dodge had fifteen murders. The problem for Dodge was they didn’t have much law until Wyatt came to town.
I read somewhere that the murder rate in Tombstone around the 1870’s -80’s was quite low by today’s standards.
My thanks to everyone who contributed. When I ran across this passage in an obscure economics article, I wanted to get it into the public record so the facts could be available to others who are helping to protect and advance RKBA especially in the wake of the Aurora mass murder.
Westerns are about good vs. evil, and acting morally when there is no one around you to either keep you honest, or help you out. The protagonist is usually forced to make choices alone. The western frontier is the perfect setting to construct these situations.
The gunfight at the OK Corral is the most celebrated shootout in all of the Old West. Yet it involved a total of nine combatants - three lawmen & Doc Holliday against the Clantons & Lowerys. Three of the latter were killed outright & one Earp brother was wounded. Later, another Earp brother was gunned down from ambush.
Small potatoes compared to the Indian Wars with large number of Indians, settlers, & U.S. soldiers killed, then there were those lost to famine, blizzards & disease. Kind of like we remember the victims of the Titanic disaster but not the vast numbers of souls lost at sea just a few short years later in WW1.
The Wild West shows of Col. William Cody were popular when there still was a wild West. Life east of the Mississippi must have been dull beyond all imagining.
I saw that movie. It was BA-A-A-D! It was made on the cheap and all the real Indian scenes and battles were lifted form BUFFALO BILL with Joel McCrea.
The other “Indian” scenes show typical Hollywood fake Indians.
Maybe it’s because there was a little “frontier justice” practiced.....my great uncle witnessed a lynching when he was 17 ...some the townsmen took two accused murderers from a jail (who had murdered a farm family and buried them in the manure pile).....and hung them both.
No surprise there. Arm the citizenry and keep the bureaucrats out of the process to “protect the rights” of the bad guys and the bad guys knew that they were likely to be hunted down and killed by the People.
Wait, there's porn on the Internet?
Many of the wildest and most likely lethal areas were in the goldfields of California, Montana, the Black Hills, and anywhere else a claim jumper might get his just deserts. Of course it didn't always work that way, and sometimes the claim owner woke up dead in the morning (greed, indeed, coupled with a bad case of gold fever).
Outside of a some hotspots which attracted nefarious types, ordinary communities were pretty ordinary.