Vigilantism: Political History of Private Power in America

Vigilantism: Political History of Private Power in America

Vigilantism: Political History of Private Power in America

Vigilantism: Political History of Private Power in America

Synopsis

Culberson maintains that vigilantism has been the motivating social force in American politics since the founding of the country. This readable volume examines the American peoples' history of taking the law into their own hands and analyses the use of this private power in three eras of American politics--Colonial, Populist, and Progressive--asserting that private power effected the transitions in creating, distributing, and maintaining socially acceptable values and norms.

Excerpt

At dusk, three horses were brought into town, belonging severally and respectively to the three marauders, . . . Plummer, Stinson, and Ray. It was truly conjectured that they had determined to leave the country, and it was at once settled that they should be arrested that night. Plummer was undressing when taken at his house. Stinson was arrested at Toland's, where he was spending the evening. Ray was lying on a gambling table when seized. the leader of the Vigilantes and some others, who wished to save all unnecessary hard feelings, were sitting in a cabin, designing not to speak to Plummer, with whom they were so well acquainted. Seeing that the circumstances were such as admitted of neither vacillation nor delay, the citizen leader, summoning his friends, went up to the party and gave the military command, "Company! forward -- march!"

Plummer heard the voice and recognized the person of the leader. He came to him and begged for his life; but was told, "It is useless for you to beg for your life; that affair is settled and cannot be altered. You are to be hanged. You cannot feel harder about it than I do; but I cannot help it if I would." Buck Stinson made the air ring with the blasphemous and filthy expletives which he used in addressing his captors. Plummer exhausted every argument and plea that his imagination could suggest, in order to induce his captors to spare his life. He confessed his numerous murders and crimes, and seemed almost frantic at the prospect of death.

The first rope being thrown over the cross-beam, and the noose being rove, the order was given to "Bring up Ned Ray." This desperado was run up with curses on his lips. Buck Stinson saw his comrade robber swinging in the death agony, and blubbered out, "There goes poor Ned Ray." Scant mercy had he shown to his . . .

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