Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Hints on Purchase of Riding Horses in 1901


A horse should be rejected for any one really bad fault. The greatest strength of a horse is limited by his worst point. Horses are often bought because they possess one or more very good points. This is a wrong principle in buying. The selection of horses should begin by rejection for bad points. Bad points are of course, in a great measure, a question of degree. Discretion is needed in rejecting as well as buying.

In measuring a horse or judging of his height and size by sight, take care that he stands on a level with yourself. Dealers generally stand a horse, if under-sized, on higher ground, or is over-sized on lower ground that the intending purchaser.

Want of a fair amount of breeding should be an absolute bar.

Reject a horse with a:
  • Big coarse head
  • A small sunken eye. (They are generally obstinate and sulky).
  • A colour light of the sort.
  • With a long slack back. (It will not carry weight).
  • With a hollow back. (The formation is weak).
  • With flat sides. (They will not do work or look well).
  • With a slack loin. (Undue length between the last ribs and hind quarters. They are often bad feeders and will run up light with work).
  • With a light loin. (Want of breadth over the loins. They run up light with work.)
  • With scraggy hips. (They never do credit to feeding particularly if also slack in the loins).
  • With a bad girth. (Light through the heart. This formation will always cause trouble in saddling).
  • With a thick or short neck.
Unless it has a good rein. (With a clumsy neck the head is in consequence badly set on. Without a good rein a horse will never break well, or be pleasant to ride.)

Reject a horse with very low withers. The saddle will be apt to work forwards, and the 'rein' will probably be deficient, and the leverage for the muscles of the forehand is defective. A slug always a nuisance.

To see the above points stand on the side and form your opinion before the horse moves off.

Reject a horse with a narrow or shallow chest. (There is not sufficient capacity for the Lungs.)

With forelegs very, close together. (This and the former defect generally go together.)

To see these points stand in front. 

Whose forelegs are not straight. (They will not stand wear).

Stand behind the as he walks away from you, and you will be able to notice these defects, if they exist.
  • Which is light below the knee, especially if light immediately below the knee. The conformation is essentially weak.
  • With long, or with short or with upright pasterns. (Long pasterns are subject to sprains. Short or upright pasterns make a horse unpleasant to ride, and on account of extra concussion are apt to cause ossific deposits).
  • With toes turned in of out. The twist generally occurs at the Fetlock. Toes turned out are more objectionable that toes turned in. (When toes are turned out, the fetlocks are generally turned in, and animals so formed are very apt to cut or brush. Both, however, are weak formations).
  • Whose hind legs are too far behind. Good propelling power will be wanting, and disease as a result may be expected in the hocks.
  • Which goes either very wide or very close behind.
  • With very straight or very bent hocks. (The former causes undue concussion, the latter are apt to give way).
  • Which is 'split up', (Show much daylight between his thighs. Propelling power comes from behind, and must deficient in horses without due muscular development between the thighs.
  • With flat feet or over-large feet, also with very small feet. Medium sizes are the best.
  • With one foot smaller than another.
A goose rump is not objectionable as mechanical formation, but it is ugly.

Action must be light, easy, free, and straight. Reject a horse that crosses his legs in walking or trotting. He will be unsafe. Freedom, power to move easily along, is the great point.

A good walk is absolutely essential. Reject a horse that does not walk well; he is never a pleasant ride. If a horse walks well, he will probably trot well; but a horse may trot well without walking well.

To ascertain whether the action is true and straight, stand behind the horse as he walks and trots away from you. You cannot ascertain this important point be standing on the side.

Never omit to stand behind a horse as he walks away.

A good sloping shoulder is an important item in a riding horse, but bad action may co-exist with a good shoulder; and vice versa, good free action may co-exist with a somewhat straight shoulder.

Reject a horse, which is straight in the shoulder and long from the point of the shoulder to the upper part of the forearm. This formation places forelegs too much under the horse, and makes him unsafe to ride.

You may have a plain horse, even if all the above very apparent defects are absent, but you will, at least, have a serviceable one if in addition found sound on veterinary examination.

Having first of all kept clear of all absolute defects such as the above, then select your horses for the presence of good, serviceable, and handsome points, and easy, free, graceful carriage. But, I repeat, begin by rejection for any one positively bad defect. The greatest strength of a chain is limited by the strength of its weakest link.

In purchasing Horses, it is a great point not to lose time. If you see any one radical defect, reject the Horse at once. The Dealer will, of course, try and persuade you to do otherwise, and will call your attention to some very good point or points in the really defective animal.

Do not lose time. A dealer, if you are a stranger to him, will probably bring out and try and palm off on you his inferior horses. But if you are quick in seeing bad points, and at once reject defective animals, he will soon find it necessary to show you his best horse.

Conclusion: We shall conclude these remarks by observing that neither frame nor constitution is of much use without good condition. This latter great essential can only be obtained by food grooming, careful and regular feeding on the best forage, strong and regular exercise, fresh wholesome air in the stables, and general good management.

-- end of the unedited article from Horses and Stables by Lieut. General Sir F Fitzwygram, BART
Published by Longmans, Green, and Co. 39 Paternoster Row, London, New York, and Bombay, 1901.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Life on the American Frontier


Above all else, frontier life was tough. It was not for the faint of heart, the weak, the uncommitted, or those lazy and irresponsible ne'er-do-wells who wanted things without working for them. They worked hard, and most reaped the benefits of their labor. The land served as a magnet to draw newcomers West. And frankly, though a challenging American frontier was waiting, settlements and towns were established with the hope of economic gain and personal freedom. 

I believe that what makes America completely different from other nations is the fact that our citizens  are first and above all else "not subjects." Those who came here were fleeing tyranny, starvation, caste systems, and more. They came to America to find better lives. And they came West to have their own land and property, and not be shackled to some sort of servant class system. 

Even though all came from diverse backgrounds, their goals were the same in that they wanted a better life than the ones they left. For themselves and their families, together, they endured pestilence, famine, diseases, droughts, and the evil that lives in some hearts. Though that was the case, we forget that their hard work was not usually seen as drudgery. The toil that they put out on their properties and businesses was not simply done to endure or get by for the moment. They worked hard to prevail, succeed, and grow their success.

They saw the difficulties and efforts that they themselves put into their farms and ranches, their stores, liveries, banks, shops, and assorted businesses on the frontier as investments in the future. It was their land, their business, their endeavor. They came West to have more than just living a menial existence in overcrowded Eastern cities with jobs in thankless places such as garment factories and coal mines.

But let's not deceive ourselves. Their's was not always hard work. There were celebrations in some form. An example of that is when families combined projects like a barn-raising with a dance. Of course, roundups and branding season took place when neighboring ranchers helped each other. Out of those roundups came rodeos based on friendly competition.

Businesses celebrated their openings to thank those who help them get started and to draw customers. Harvest festivals were about harvests. The dances that followed were events most all looked forward to attending. Corn-huskings were about storing food and also about socializing. Quilting bees were a way to have fun while something needed was being done. While work was mixed with enjoyment, it was only had after the work was done.

Frontier Women

Those who get their knowledge of history from Hollywood may assume the Old West was only inhabited by young men who drank a lot, gambled, sat around a saloon all day, always had money from some unknown source, wore expensive Colts, and were ready to shot someone at any given moment. Well, that's Hollywood.

Fact is only a very few single men ever attempted to run a ranch or work a homestead alone. Those who tried to do it alone failed more than not compared to those who came West with wives, or those who sent for their wives to join them. The vast majority who succeeded did so with a hard-working wife at his side.

So now, was it only men who made a difference in the Old West? Was it only men who made a difference in the Old West since they were the ranchers, farmers, loggers, outfitters, teamsters, cowboys, soldiers, and more? Absolutely not.

As citizens, women did not have the rights that men had back in the day. And frankly, it isn't that long ago that women finally received their equal rights. As for obtaining equal rights? While it never should have been the case, and women should have been seen as equals from the start, women worked really hard and risked a lot to get what they deserved. Some even went to jail just to get the right to vote.

Women made a significant difference on the frontier for many reasons. As with most social activities, church activities, and school functions later after schools were built, such events were left to the wives to organize. The men organized the work projects, but the women organized the meals and almost everything else -- including getting the word out.

As for children, common sense at the time said that having a passel of children to help with chores on the frontier was a bonus. They were seen as an asset and a blessing around farms and ranches. Children were also seen as a blessing to shopkeepers and other businesses on the frontier. Many saw using family-help as a way to get things done while keeping down their overhead of having to hire more employees. By the way, that tradition has not changed in some cultures today.

Because they created families, frontier wives were the glue that held families together. They raised the children. Wives taught the children to read and write using the family Bible. In most cases, the family Bible was the only book available when educating their children. What took place was what we today call "Home Schooling." And as for disciplining the children, mothers were not the buddies that moms try to be today. While frontier mothers were responsible for educating their children, they were also responsible for teaching their children respect and manners.

Frontier wives dutifully attending to child-rearing, gardening, making clothing, canning food, and more. She managed the family, including being responsible for feeding hired hands. Unlike in the movies where we see huge cattle outfits with hired cooks, most ranches and farms were not that way. And yes, the job of providing meals for their family, hired hands, and visitors was left up to the woman of the house.

Now, please don't think that women were tied to their homes. Frontiers wives played an important role in the operation of their farms and ranches -- including working outdoors. Especially on homesteads starting out, she worked side by side with her husband, bringing in hay, milking, planting, harvesting, and even taking her turn on the plow. As for businesses in town, wives worked hand-in-hand with their husbands to make their businesses a success. In most cases, whether working a homestead, running a mercantile in town, or caring for a family, wives were usually what assured the family's survival.

Crime & Mutual Survival

Frontier towns required its citizens to be productive to ensure its survival. Survival meant participation. To survive, citizens were required to be involved. Being involved and not shirking one's duty was, in essence, "making a difference." In some places, those who weren't productive were run out of town.

While some believe Americans on the frontier were isolated and alone, away from neighbors, that wasn't the case. In reality, farmers, ranchers, and townfolk had a rich social life. The connection between them was strengthened by their dependence on each other for mutual survival. The need for mutual survival against Indian attacks and outlaw bands is why militias and vigilance committees were formed. Together they fought diseases, fires, droughts, hard economic times, and threats from outlaws.

Crime did increase when the population increased in the boomtowns. That was not unusual since more people bring more crime. Shootouts, gunfights, and murders were not as commonplace as some may think. That's not an assumption, that's a fact.

Thefts and assaults were commonplace, but shootings were not. Saloon brawls were commonplace, but they were usually just brawls. It was very uncommon for a fistfight to turn into gunplay. As for gunfights and saloon killings, newspapers, journals, letters, and court records simply don't show that many incidents of such taking place.

Did such things take place? They certainly did. But when looking at the actual facts of what took place, the numbers of shootings and killings in the Old West are relatively small compared to the numbers of people there at the time. That's why shootings, even relatively small shootings like the one that took place in the small lot near the rear of the O.K. Corral livery stable in Tombstone, Arizona, made headlines for a little while. Such things were an affront to all because they were not commonplace on the frontier.

With little to no city or county governments established, law enforcement was left to the citizenry in most cases. In the absence of a structured law system known in the East, most settlements on the frontier were forced to establish citizens' committees.

Let's understand what was taking place there at the time. In the days when Americans came West to do their part in building our nation, men in frontier towns were required to do several things as part of their communities. As citizens of new towns, newcomers made a difference because they were required to be on fire brigades, sit on planning boards, be part of the local militia, assist with bringing in provisions, help maintain community stores, and assist in community projects -- especially during those first years before established town governments were created.

Let's keep in mind that what little government they did have was provided by the newcomers' simple association with each other. Families looked after their family's own needs. Though that was the case, newcomers were part of community projects such as digging a community well, building dams, creating levees, digging irrigation ditches, and erecting a town windmill. In frontier towns, able-bodied men were required to serve as local militia members and on the local citizen's committee. Also known as vigilance committees, they were the only law enforcement available to maintain law and order before organized law enforcement was established.

Consequences & Values

So, though not widespread, we know that violence did exist. To address those instances where the law was needed, citizens gathered and took action while understanding that society has to use violence to create peace when dealing with outlaws. People in the frontier towns understood that there were consequences to breaking the law. The consequence was swift punishment.

Why were murders not commonplace when looking at the facts, and not the myth of the Old West? Well, I believe that has to do with citizens being armed, consequences for criminal acts, and the Judeo-Christian values that people practiced at the time. 

As for citizens being armed? It is just a statistical fact that while Americans in the East were walking around unarmed in the mid to late 1800s, the murder rate there was soaring. In contrast, in the West, in the frontier termed "a deadly and savage land," the murder rate was significantly lower during the same time period because Americans in the West were armed. In the West, armed citizens responded to criminal acts immediately. In the East, unarmed citizens were prey for predators who saw the unarmed as ripe for the taking. And as for someone responding to the criminal acts, the vast majority of crime in the East went unanswered during that time period.   

As for having consequences when committing a crime? History shows us time and time again that outlaws who faced swift punishment of being hanged as the consequence of their murderous ways did not break the law a second time. 

As for the values and ideals that people lived by back in the day? Friends and neighbors created bonds. Husbands and wives communicated with other husbands and wives. Yes, even back then. Most attended the same church services, baby Christenings, dances, social gatherings, and knew each other from town meetings, fire drills, and of course, in town shopping.

Those folks shared a value system based on courage, conviction, loyalty, and family. Whether some like it or not, the Christian ideals such as that of service, faith, benevolence, truth, trust, hope, love, and their belief in the Golden Rule were the foundation of what they lived. It seems to me that people without values and a code to live by are really no different than ships without rudders -- absolutely incapable of going in a positive direction. A good value system is what keeps us on course. It steers our moral compass in the right direction. 

The value system of those pioneers was passed on to their children. That made a big difference in the growth of our society in years to come. And while it's a fact that there were other religions in the Old West besides Christianity, we should not cancel out, we should not diminish, the significantly positive impact Christianity had on the American frontier. The vast majority of Americans on the frontier practiced Judeo-Christian values. Because of what was handed down to us, it's not a surprise that Christian values were assets in the Old West. Those values built America.

Tom Correa


Friday, September 18, 2020

The Exodusters


Because of the recent race riots and civil unrest in American cities, I have readers writing to ask why I have not written about black cowboys? The fact is, I am asked from time to time what brought black Americans to the West? Some folks have asked if they came out West as slaves or as indentured servants? Some have asked if all blacks in the West and Southwest originated from Texas? 

Some of my readers have asked about a Texas myth about slaves in the Southwest being given large ranches to care for. There is a story out there that says slaves arrived in the Southwest as the property of Texas slave owners, and that white Texas ranchers entrusted their slaves with the responsibility of maintaining their ranches, land, and cattle herds. Supposedly, those white Texas slave owners gave their slaves legal rights to manage their ranches while they themselves were away fighting in the Civil War. Did that happen? Frankly, I can't tell you if it did or not simply because I have not found evidence of that happening. 

To me, such an idea opens up a lot of questions. The biggest question that strikes me is what would have happened if the rancher didn't return from the war? Then what? Did the ranch become the property of the slaves managing it? And what about the family of the Texas rancher who didn't make it back? 

Because of the fact that ranch wives did, in fact, manage their family ranches when their husbands went off to fight in the Civil War, I really don't put much credence in such a story that slave owners entrusted their holding to their slaves -- especially when I can't confirm the validity of such a myth. 

Of course, it's nothing new for a reader to write to ask if black Americans came West as Buffalo Soldiers? Some of you have speculated about how some Buffalo Soldiers simply stayed in the West after leaving the Army. Frankly, like many servicemen and women do today by staying where their enlistment ends instead of going home, it was not unusual for Buffalo Soldiers to do the same and stay where they were when their enlistment ended. 

When I get the chance to answer my readers, I really try to share with them whatever information that I've found. As for questions regarding when black Americans came West? Well, my standard answer, as short as it is, may sound almost too simple. But really, it is the honest truth summed up in a sentence or two: 

It was no different for black Americans than it was for immigrants coming to America after fleeing oppressive nations. Most black Americans came West because they fled an oppressive South. All for the same reasons as others who came to America's shores -- freed slaves came West on their own volition and in search of better lives for themselves and their families.

That's my pat answer to the question of how and why black Americans migrated West. That's an awful short answer to a long and horrible story of what took place in the South after the Civil War. And yes, the story or their fleeing the South has to do with the "Exodusters."  

So who were the "Exodusters" you ask? The Exodus of 1879 was the first mass migration of black  Americans from the South after the Civil War. While the South's mass exodus did include poor white Americans, the migrants were mostly former slaves. And while some make it sound as though it was only black Americans who fled because of oppression, that's not true.

Those leaving became known as "Exodusters," a name that took its inspiration from the biblical Exodus when Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. While most migrated West specifically to settle in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas -- with Kansas being especially attractive to them as a land rich in opportunity -- Exodusters also landed in the Arizona Territory, Texas, New Mexico, and California. 

Since several of you have written to tell me how dissatisfied you are with my writing about the Democratic Party's legacy of racism and hate, you're not going to like the truth about why black Americans and poor white Americans fled the South. It's just a matter of history that the Democratic Party had everything to do with those deciding to go West.

Like it or not, after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Era in the South was not a very good place to be if you were a freed slave. It was a horrible place for white Republicans, but freed slaves who supported the Republican Party had it even worst. The long answer about why they left the South has to do with violence, intimidation, murder, mass killings, politics, disenfranchising black voters, and the Democratic Party seeking to regain the power that they lost as a result of the Civil War. These factors created a horribly dangerous place to live for both black and whites Republicans. 

In the years following the end of the Civil War, an angered Democratic Party created militant groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, and other domestic terrorist groups to act as the Democratic Party's militant arm. Those groups' mission was to terrorize, intimidate, and murder through lynchings and ambush, free-born black Americans, freed slaves, and white Republican administrators in the South during Reconstruction. Besides beating freed slaves and those Republicans in the South assigned to help freed slaves -- mostly through the Freedmen's Bureau. 

The Freedmen's Bureau, formally known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, was established in 1865 by a Republican Congress. The Freedmen's Bureau was actually established by the Republican Congress two months before Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.

The bureau's mission was to help millions of people in need in the South during Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Freedmen's Bureau actually provided several social services such as providing food, housing, and medical aid to former slaves and poor whites. The Freedmen's Bureau attempted to re-settle freed slaves and poor whites on land confiscated or abandoned during the war. It also established schools and offered legal assistance to freed slaves and poor whites. I emphasize both freed slaves and poor whites because many are under the impression that it was only an agency that assisted former black slaves. I believe the reason for that misconception has to do with the agency's attempts to locate family members of freed slaves who were separated while they were in bondage. 

Democrats in Congress were in the minority but tried everything they could to stop the bureau from carrying out its programs. Among the things Democrats in Congress did to stop the Freedmen's Bureau was cut the agency's funding and restrict its administrative personnel from being in the South. In the South, along with the politics of race and Reconstruction. 

The bureau was something that President Abraham Lincoln came up with. It was his belief that addressing the problems created by slavery immediately after the Civil War was the best way to ensure a more harmonious future in our country. Sadly, President Lincoln was assassinated by a Democrat anarchist. President Lincoln was replaced with his Vice President Andrew Johnson. President Andrew Johnson was a Democrat and former slave owner. He opposed the Freedmen's Bureau when President Lincoln created it. As soon as Johnson assumed the presidency after Lincoln's murder, Johnson and other Democrats worked to dismantle the Freedmen's Bureau. The Freedmen's Bureau was officially ended in 1872.

While that was all going on in Washington D.C., Democrats in the South had other ways of dealing with Republican Reconstruction administrators and freed slaves. Besides using the militant arm of their party to intimidate and commit murder, Democrats used the Klan and other such groups to burn down the homes of anyone they saw as willing to stand up to them. 

As terrorism and murder increased, Democrats also established Jim Crow segregation laws. Jim Crow laws were state laws voted into state constitutions to mandate segregated churches, public schools, public places, and public transportation, including segregated restrooms, restaurants, and later drinking fountains between white and black Americans. 

The laws in the South during Reconstruction ushered in racial violence, riots, and oppression of black Americans. It was a hostile place with conditions worse than that of the Antebellum South because violence was perpetrated on freed slaves who left the plantations. Democrats who were former slave-owners saw blacks still as property, as less than human. Because of the threat of death at the hands of the Democratic Party's militant arm, it's no wonder many blacks, both free-born and freed slaves, sought to escape the South.

What made black Americans flee the South even faster was what became known as the Compromise of 1877. That was the unwritten political deal among U.S Congressmen who settled the disputed 1876 Presidential Election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel J. Tilden. The Compromise of 1877 involved Democrats who controlled the House of Representatives and the Republican minority. It was the only way that Democrats in control of the House would allow for the Electoral Commission's decision to take effect.

As a result of the Compromise of 1877, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes became president. But also as a result of the Compromise, the federal government was to end what was known as Reconstruction and pull the last remaining federal troops out of the South. Once the troops were removed, Democrats took control. 

Of course, along with the federal troops being removed, so were the protections for freed slaves and Republicans in state governments and administration posts in the South. As Democrats took over state legislatures, they changed voter registration rules to strip most blacks and poor whites of their ability to vote. The Democrat Party sought to have the wealthy plantations regain control as they had before the war. As I said before, poor white Americans were in the same boat as poor black Americans. No, there was no such thing as "White Privilege" -- only "Wealthy Privilege."

In a wave of violence following the removal of the federal troops, the militant arm of the Democratic Party, groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, and the Red Shirts, increased their efforts to intimidate, terrorize, and heap violence upon black voters all to suppress black Republican voting. Black Republicans were hit by violence, discrimination, intimidation, harassment, and the Democratic Party's militant arm burned even more homes -- all to suppress their voting. 

Democrats created those paramilitary groups such as the KKK to ensure Democrats got into office. Their mission was to disenfranchise black voters through violence, intimidation, and murder, including lynchings. And it worked very well. 

If you think the Democrats who sought power and control were quiet about it and did it clandestinely, that was not the case. In fact, Democrat militant groups disrupted Republican meetings, they killed Republican political leaders and state officeholders, intimidated voters at the polls, or kept voters away from the polls altogether. 

In Louisiana alone, there were over a thousand political murders in the late 1860s and 1870s. Most of the victims were freed-slaves. Imagine this, over two hundred freed slaves were killed in the Opelousas Massacre. More than a hundred Republican blacks were killed by the Democratic Party's militia in the Colfax Massacre. 

Known as the "Opelousas Massacre," it was a race riot from September 28 until November 3, 1868, in Opelousas, Louisiana. It started as a riot that turned into widespread attacks on Black Americans in the vicinity. In all, it's believed anywhere from 200 to 250 Blacks were killed. 

As for the Colfax Massacre, which has also been called the Colfax Riot, it was a race riot that took place on Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, in Colfax, Louisiana. In the wake of the contested 1872 state election for governor of Louisiana and local offices, a group of White Democrats armed with rifles, handguns, and a small cannon, overpowered Republican freedmen and state militia, which included Black troops. 

The state militia had occupied the Grant Parish County Courthouse there in Colfax after the riot broke out. After the White Democrat militia promised to allow all of the 70 or so Republicans, both Black and White, to leave the city. After the Black freedmen and White Republicans surrendered to the mob and taken prisoner, what took place was ghastly. 

Late that night, after being held as prisoners for several hours, those who surrendered were killed by the Democrats who promised them safety. While it is believed that only a handful of White Republicans were killed, it is really unknown how many Black Republicans were killed. The reason for that had to do with the fact that many of the Black Republicans were killed, and their bodies were thrown into the Red River. Some estimates say that from 70 to 160 militia freedmen who were murdered by white Democrats. Black Republicans were being found dead on the river for weeks. 

As for Democrats disenfranchising the vote of both black and white Republicans, Democrats regaining political power passed state laws requiring poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements, and other political schemes to deprive freed blacks and poor whites who were registered as Republicans of the right to vote. It worked, and they effectively disfranchised nearly all blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites. 

Starting in the 1870s, it's believed that hundreds of thousands of blacks and poor whites registered as Republicans were removed from voter registration rolls by way of Democratic Party disenfranchising tactics. As surprising as it might sound, more poor whites registered as Republicans have been disfranchised --mostly because of poll taxes and literacy tests. By some estimates, many hundreds of thousands of registered Republican blacks and poor whites were deprived of their right to vote.

Of course, those who could not vote -- could not run for office or serve on juries. This meant they were shut out of running for all offices at the local and state, and federal levels. Because of this, there was a one-party voting block in the South for decades. Democrat control was with an iron fist. 

As a result of the Compromise of 1877, the Reconstruction Era died. With it, so did all hope for national enforcement of adherence to the newly created 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional Amendments that the Republican Congress passed in the wake of the civil unrest after the Civil War. As the last federal troops left the former-Confederacy, the issues of state rights and race returned. 

Political power, control, state rights, excessive tariffs, and slavery were why Democrats pushed our nation into a Civil War in 1861. And while some say the Union and subsequently the Republicans won the Civil War, by 1877, the former-Confederacy and the Democrats had reaffirmed control over the South -- and a return to "home rule" was the order of the day.

How bad was it for non-political blacks and poor whites in the Democrat-controlled South? The Democratic Party had a grip on the labor force. It was total and reminiscent of slavery. For example, the Democrat-controlled state legislatures passed vagrancy and "anti-enticement" laws to make it illegal to be jobless or leave a job before one's labor contract ended. This meant blacks and poor whites were stripped of independence since wealthy plantations controlled them. Yes, this was a new form of slavery that affected both blacks and whites. A new form of slavery that lasted generations.

This Was The South That Led To The Exodus of 1879 

While blacks and poor whites had been fleeing the South ever since the end of the Civil War specifically because of the violence and intimidate by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, and the Red Shirts, which were the Democratic Party's militia, the end of Reconstruction saw the first real mass migration of freed slaves leaving the South. With their exodus, places like Kansas became overwhelmed. In fact, it is said that the reality of life for the Exodusters in Kansas was difficult. Many who attempted to homestead remained poor. Many went to work for others on farms only to find conditions as pitiful as was had in the South. 

It's said that most successful black Exodusters were those who migrated to urban areas, bigger cities and towns, where manufacturing, domestic help, and trade work could be found. Of course, as with any place with an influx of cheaper labor, resentment broke out among many of those already there. And yes, there was resentment from whites who were already there. Mostly, their resentment was over a large influx of new labor arriving as competition in what was already a limited job market. That's not an excuse for their resentment. That was just the reality of the situation -- newcomers are blamed in many cases when jobs become harder to find. That happens even today.

It's said that Kansas, in particular, became a place where many whites resented the presence of blacks fleeing the South. While, in some cases, it was simply a case of not having enough jobs for everyone arriving, in other cases, it was a matter of a drain on social support and local governments that was not being able to provide relief to the new arrivals. Because of local government failing to meet citizens' needs, some Exodusters founded their own black communities, partly by using the Homestead Act of 1862. 

Homesteading was a practice where governments awarded "free" land to settlers. That practice dates back to the early Colonial period, long before the 13 British Colonies declared their independence. As with what Spain did in Florida, Texas, and California, and the French did in Louisiana, the British promoted homestead settlements in the "New World." Most were huge land grants awarded to settle the land through private ownership. Of course, the owner takes risks, including to his life, to keep it. 

After the United States won its independence, our government kept up the practice. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established the Northwest Territory, modern-day Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. That pact prohibited the extension of slavery into that territory. Over the years, land-grant legislation in the United States was tied to the issue of slavery. Homesteading was a heated issue because Republicans wanted to open the land to settlement -- to individual farmers who were not slave owners. At the same time, Democrats sought to make the land available only to slaveholders. Because of that, homesteading and the admission of free states and slave states into the Union were tied together.

The Homestead Act of 1862 changed that. It was only after most Democrats left the U.S. Congress to join the Confederacy that the Homestead Act of 1862 was passed. In fact, since it was passed during the Civil War, Democrat slave owner legislators could not stop it from passing. Because of that, Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862 into law.

A homestead was a plot of land, typically 160 acres in size, awarded to any U.S. citizen who pledged to settle and farm the land for at least five years. The only requirements were that the applicant must be at least 21 years of age, or be the head of a household, and the applicant must never have "borne arms against the United States Government or given aid and comfort to its enemies." Of course, that last clause meant that ex-Confederate soldiers were ineligible to apply for a homestead after the Civil War.

With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed U.S. citizenship to black Americans, including freed slaves, the Homestead Act applied to freedmen. A Supreme Court decision in 1898 enabled immigrants to be eligible to apply to the federal government for a homestead as well.

From 1862 to 1934, the federal government granted over a million and a half homesteads to private citizens of all colors. Those million and a half homesteads represented approximately ten percent of the entire landmass of the United States. It is still considered one of the largest transfers of land ownership from a government to individual citizens. 

As for the "land rushes," homesteaders rushed in to settle the land on a first-come-first-serve basis. The Homestead Act facilitated the settlement of territories in the West and the Midwest. It turned the Great Desert into America's Breadbasket. And yes, Exodusters who fled the terror of the South benefitted from the Homestead Act of 1862. 

The Homestead Act created small parcels of land out of millions of acres of land -- all specifically meant for settlers. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave free land to Americans willing to improve it. This was absolutely true regardless of race, sex, or nation of origin. That meant all American citizens, including black Americans, freed slaves, women, and immigrants, were all eligible to apply to the federal government for a "homestead," a 160-acre plot of land. To keep a "homestead," a "homesteader" had to meet certain requirements for five years. If the "homesteader" met those requirements and lasted the five years, which only a third of the homesteaders ever accomplished, then the land was theirs. 

As for Exodusters who became homesteaders, they were on equal ground with white homesteaders. And whether a black homesteader wanted to start a farm or a cattle ranch, that was his choice. It was certainly not up to someone else. In the West, a freed slave, as with whites and anyone else, realized that the limits to their achievements were only the limits that they put on themself. 

Many of those fleeing the war-torn South, black and white, became cowboys. 

Exodusters made up a large part of the black cowboys in the Old West. It is believed that black Americans made up 25 percent of all cowboys who were in the West in the mid-1860s at the end of the Civil War. Many former slaves already had skills in working and handling cattle. While the cattle drives were new to most all, many freed slaves who headed West at the end of the Civil War worked for the same pay and on completely equal footing as the white, Mexican, and Native American Indian cowboys.

As for the black and white cowboys who worked in the cattle industry specific to the time period between 1879 and 1884? Many white cowboys came West after the Civil War, many fled the South escaping the oppression there. As for the black cowboys, it is believed that most were among the Exodusters who also fled the South during Reconstruction and headed West. 

Did they find what they were looking for? In my opinion, I believe they did.

As for black cowboys, they found freedoms unimagined if that's what they were looking in the West. It's true. They were treated equally to white and Mexican and Native American Indian cowboys in terms of pay, responsibilities, and expectations on the job and off when riding for a brand. All ranch hands worked for equal wages. All lived by the Cowboy Code. Color didn't matter. What mattered was one's character, an ability to pull one's own weight, and a desire to do what was right.  

Black cowboys were offered opportunities that were never offered to them in the South. As cowboys, blacks were offered freedoms the same as were offered all cowboys. They were free to vote for who they pleased. They were free to attend whatever church they desired, discuss whatever they wanted to talk about, go where they wanted, associate with whomever they pleased, to carry guns, to work, to earn,  to build a good life for themselves and their families, and of course free to leave if they had a mind to do so. In the West, they found what was never afforded them. 

Frankly, the West and the cowboy life offered freedoms to black Americans fleeing persecution by Democrats in the South. And in essence, they found the freedoms which they were deprived in other parts of the country. They also found a cattle industry that offered equal pay and equal opportunity that was really ahead of its time.

Tom Correa



Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Life of Thomas Archer


While I've written about people like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Wild Bill, here is a story about an American who I believe is a great deal more impressive than the three men I mentioned. His name is Thomas Archer. And since there's a good chance that you have never heard of him, I'm here to tell you about him. I hope you find him as interesting as I do.  

Thomas Archer was born near Louisville, Kentucky, on July 18, 1833. He was in Kentucky for less than a year when his parents E. B. and Eliza Allen Archer, moved their family to Missouri in 1834. At the age of 17, Thomas Archer moved out of the family home and left for Pittsfield, Illinois, where he lived for about three years before returning to Missouri. In 1857, Thomas arrived in Topeka, Kansas, and found a job in a brickyard. 

During the late 1850s, abolitionist John Brown was operating his part of the "underground railroad" moving escaped slaves to freedom in the North. The town of Topeka was one of the "stations" when the underground railroad was in operation, and Thomas Archer worked with John Brown to make it happen.

Our history as Americans shows that we give the government time to right things, but when they fail or are too slow to act -- Americans take action. This was the case when it came to abolishing slavery. While some folks think the "underground railroad" was started and ran by a relatively small handful of freed Black slaves, that's not true. What became known as the "underground railroad" was, in reality, a network of places run by mostly White Americans and a few escaped slaves who offered shelter and aid to fugitive slaves from the South.
  
While the exact dates of its existence are really unknown, it is believed that it may have been operated from the late 1790s into the Civil War's turbulent days. Quaker Abolitionists were the first to organize groups to actively assist escaped slaves. In fact, by the early 1800s, Quaker abolitionist Isaac T. Hopper set up a network in Philadelphia to help escaped slaves on the run. At the same time that was going on in the North, Quakers in the South, starting in North Carolina, organized abolitionist groups that laid out secret routes and stations for escaped slaves seeking shelter.

Later in 1816, like the Quakers, the African Methodist Episcopal Church organized a group to help fugitive slaves heading North. Also, Vigilance Committees were organized at the time with the mission of protecting fugitive slaves from bounty hunters in the North. Those Vigilante Committees later expanded their mission to include guiding escaped slaves on the run. Robert Purvis, an escaped slave who became a Philadelphia merchant, formed a Vigilance Committee there in 1838 to help other fugitive slaves.

In the South, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 made capturing escaped slaves a fairly lucrative business. This gave rise to bounty hunters who sniffed out the hiding places of escaped slaves. Some of those hiding places were the homes of ordinary people, farmers, business owners, and ministers, known on the underground railroad as "conductors" and "stationmasters." 

Those folks guided the fugitive slaves to the next station in the chain of "stations." While some "stations" were private homes, they also included churches, schoolhouses, stores, warehouses, and other places where sympathetic people could hide them safely. Besides known as "stations" and "depots," those "safe places" were also known as "safe houses." 

Routes stretched west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa, while other routes led escaped slaves to Pennsylvania and New England. Some led all the way to Canada, where Black people had the freedom to live where they wanted, sit on juries, run for public office, and, most importantly, avoid the American Fugitive Slave Laws as a result of the Fugitive Slave Acts. 

The first Fugitive Slave Act was passed in 1793. It allowed local governments to apprehend and extradite escaped slaves from within the borders of free states. Those escaped slaves were sent back to their point of origin. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 setup punishment for anyone helping the fugitives. While there was an attempt by Northern states to try to over-rule the Fugitive Slave Act with what was called Personal Liberty Laws, the efforts by Northern states were struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 1842.

As for the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850? It was designed to strengthen the previous law, which Southern states saw as being inadequately enforced. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 created much harsher penalties for those assisting fugitive slaves. It also made Commissioners that sided with slave owners and led to some freed slaves being recaptured. 

Abolitionist John Brown was a conductor on the underground railroad. During that time, he established the League of Gileadites -- a group of devoted believers who helped fugitive slaves get to Canada. While John Brown was a fervent believer in eliminating slavery and did whatever was called for to help fugitive slaves, he is famously known for leading a raid on Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. But frankly, Brown and his group did more than that to free slaves.

Thomas Archer became involved in the underground railway and was a companion to John Brown. In fact, Archer was with John Brown at the "Battle of the Spurs" near Holton, Kansas. What became known as the "Battle of the Spurs" is interesting for a few reasons, but mostly in regards to who has the deeper commitment. You'll see what I mean in a moment. 

What became known as the "Battle of the Spurs" took place about 7 miles north of Holton, Kansas, on January 31, 1859. At the "Battle of the Spurs," what took place was a pathetic display of cowardice by pro-slavery authorities there.

John Brown and his men, which included Thomas Archer, were escorting 11 escaped slaves. Some of the fugitive slaves were women and children. He had brought them from the Slave-state of Missouri and was heading to the Free-state of Iowa. At one point, Brown and his group faced a posse of U.S. Marshals and citizens. The Marshal's posse was hoping to cash in on the $3,000 reward offered for Brown's capture. 

Brown's group consisted of about 21, which included the 11 slaves. And among the slaves, more than half were women and children. Marshal John Wood, who led the posse, was hidden in a nearby stream crossing with his 35 deputies. And while this was going on, Freestaters heard about Brown being in trouble and gathered to march from Topeka to support him. 

Brown's group faced that Marshal's posse of reportedly 35 armed men. The pro-slavers were hungry to divide up that $3,000 reward money. Brown’s party was outnumbered two to one. But instead of surrendering, Brown led his party to charge straight toward the Marshal Wood's posse. Brown defiantly ordered his group to ford the creek. Brown and his group all reached Iowa unharmed.

A witness later recalled, "Scarcely had the foremost entered the water when the valiant marshal but mounted his horse and rode off in haste." Another witness said, "The closer we got to the ford, the farther they got from it." In response to Brown's advance, the Marshal's posse panicked and turned and ran for their lives. People hearing about what happened mocked the pro-slavery posse’s retreat, and a newspaperman dubbed what took place as the "Battle of the Spurs." 

During the incident, not a single shot was fired. So why is it called the Battle of the Spurs? It's because "Free-Staters labeled the confrontation the 'Battle of the Spurs,' in mocking reference to the pro-slavery posse fleeing on horseback." The battle received its name because the Marshal Wood's posse and Missouri citizens used their spurs to getaway. There is a historical marker located where it took place near Netawaka, Kansas, in Jackson County.

The inscription on that marker reads as follows: Just before Christmas, 1858, John Brown "liberated" eleven slaves in Missouri. He hid them in a covered wagon and circled north on the underground railway toward Nebraska and freedom. En route, a Negro baby was born. Late in January, they reached Albert Fuller's cabin on Straight creek, a mile and a half south of this marker. Here a Federal posse barred their way. Both sides sent for reinforcements. Help for Brown arrived first, Topeka abolitionists leaving in the midst of Sunday church. Declaring he would not be turned "from the path of the Lord," Brown, though still outnumbered, crossed the creek in spite of high water and the enemy entrenched on the other side. Demoralized by his audacity, the posse mounted and spurred away -- thus giving a name to the bloodless battle. This was Brown's exit from Kansas. In December 1859, he was hanged for his treasonable attack at Harper's Ferry. This sign marks the site of Eureka, a trading center on the Parallel Road which ran from Atchison to the Pike's Peak goldfields.

As for Thomas Archer, he continued being a part of Brown's group but was not there at Harper's Ferry, which took place from October 16th to the 18th, 1859. At Harper’s Ferry, Brown's mission was to capture arms at the Federal Armoury located there, to create an armed force. That force was to make its way into the South and free slaves by force of arms. Brown’s men were defeated, and Brown hanged for treason in 1859.

Archer kept working with the underground railroad after the federal authorities hanged John Brown for his Harper's Ferry Raid. And it wasn't long after the start of the Civil War that Archer joined the Fifth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. 

Then during the Battle of Pine Bluff on October 25, 1863, Archer received a wound to his the shoulder that would change his life. The Battle of Pine Bluff was a Civil War battle that was fought on October 25, 1863, in Jefferson County, Arkansas. 

It was there near the Jefferson County Courthouse, where the Union garrison under the command of Col. Powell Clayton successfully defended the town against attacks led by Confederate Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke. The Union victory ensured the safety of the garrison until the end of the war.

After the capture of Little Rock, Arkansas, Union forces occupied several towns along the Arkansas River. Confederate Brig. Gen. John S. Marmaduke decided to test the Union strength at the town of Pine Bluff. On October 25, 1863, at 8:00 a.m., when Gen. Marmaduke sent his cavalry, a force of 2,000, to attack the town from three sides. Their target was the Union post at Pine Bluff. 

Confederate Brig. Gen. Marmaduke believed the 550 Union cavalrymen and the Missouri militia, supported by 300 freedmen, commanded by Col. Powell Clayton would not stand a chance against such odds. In response to the attack, the Union troops barricaded themselves in the courthouse square. Using cotton-bales and wagons as barricades, and utilizing single cannon in such a position to command the adjacent streets, the smaller unit of Union troops held their position. 

After several attempts to take the square, including trying to set the county courthouse on fire, the Confederate forces withdrew and retreated to Princeton, Arkansas. It's said Gen. Marmaduke never got over the demoralizing defeat that day.

As for Archer, the result of his shoulder wound was the loss of the use of his right arm. But though that was the case, Archer remained in the Union Army until he was discharged on August 11, 1864. It was then that Archer returned to Topeka, Kansas, and became a Shawnee County Sheriff’s Deputy. I found it interesting that he was a County Deputy and a Constable in Topeka at the same time.

On August 3, 1866, The Topeka Tribune reported that a prisoner who was being guarded by Archer had escaped custody. The prisoner was Charles Gillison. And believe it or not, Gillison did not escape from jail but from this room in a boarding house. 

For me, I mark this story as learning something new every day. Why? Well, at the time, if a prisoner could afford it, it is said that a prisoner could rent a room and "hire a deputy" to guard him rather than spend time in jail. And no, I never heard of such a thing. 

As for Charles Gillison, it's said he took complete advantage of that option, rented a room on the second floor of what some describe as a boarding house with the only access down an outside stairway, and then he hired Deputy Thomas Archer to guard him. Imagine that! 

While Gillison was in his room, Thomas Archer positioned himself on a landing outside the rented room. It was while Archer was sitting there when Charles Gillison suddenly came running out the door, pushed past Archer, and then ran down the stairs. Once Gillison made it outside, there was no stopping him. He headed out of town, and no one in Topeka ever saw Charles Gillison again. Despite Thomas Archer's attempt to pursue him, Gillison was gone. 

The Topeka Tribune is said to have poked fun at Archer by reporting, "His guard was in a reclining posture on the stairway – the prisoner is a young, active and strong man and wholly unencumbered, while Mr. Archer was encumbered by a heavy revolver, heavy boots on his feet and a lame arm." 

Thomas Archer married Ruth Hard on September 26, 1867. Then in 1873, Thomas Archer ran for Shawnee County Sheriff but lost the election. He was a Deputy and Constable there for 12 years.  

He left law enforcement after he passed the bar exam and became a lawyer. Soon after that, he became a Jefferson County Judge. He was a Judge for the next 26 years before finally retiring. Even before retiring, he was known to contribute editorials to the local newspaper. 

After living a life that benefited all around him, Thomas Archer died in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 4th, 1913. He is buried in his beloved Topeka, right there at the Topeka Cemetery, Shawnee County, Kansas.

All in all, no one can deny, he had a fascinating life.

Tom Correa



Monday, September 7, 2020

Will We Need Vigilance Committees Soon?


We need to admit that Americans are being blackmailed. ANTIFA and BLM groups are using domestic terrorism as a weapon to blackmail America today. Their threats to burn our cities, loot, intimidate the innocent, assault the helpless, and murder those who they please are nothing new when it comes to our history. We have had problems with such vermin before.

Frankly, I can't help but see many similarities between those groups and other terrorists and criminals in our history. For example, right after the Civil War, the Democratic Party created the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize and blackmail both freed slaves and Republican administrators in the South throughout Reconstruction. And please don't make the mistake of thinking the KKK was some sort of "Vigilante Group." They were not interested in prosecuting criminals. They were criminals. They were nothing less than a criminal domestic terrorist group supported by an American political party.

The KKK carried out their reign of terror as the militant arm of the Democratic Party. The same as ANTIFA and BLM are today.  Like ANTIFA and BLM today, the KKK waged war on anyone supporting the Republican Party, Black, and White.

Among their vicious tactics, the KKK especially targeted Blacks sympathetic of the Union and Republicans. Once learning which Black men and families were Union supporters, the KKK would torch their homes, destroy their farms and businesses, even set their churches afire. Besides burning the homes and destroying freed slaves' farms, the KKK beat and lynched whoever they pleased.

We should understand that the KKK had a mission. They surely wanted something out of it. The fact is, they used violence and intimidation to ensure freed slaves would not vote and remain subservient to former slave owners. The KKK also targeted Republican administrators, in the same way, to rid the South of Republicans, since Republicans were there to assist the freed slaves into assimilating into American society.

While there were Black men who stood tall in spite of the threats, they were supported by White men like Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, who was a champion for Civil Rights for Blacks. Grant signed into law equal rights for Blacks and made it possible for Blacks to serve on juries and hold office. He also pushed for the Fifteenth Amendment's ratification, which says states can not disenfranchise Black Americans.

President Grant created the Justice Department just so his Attorney General would be able to prosecute the KKK. And it was Grant's Justice Department that led the fight to diminish the Klan's power by jailing its members on federal charges. It was President Grant who put through the first Anti-KKK federal legislation to stop their terrorist acts.

The Klan, Jim Crow laws, forced segregation were all attempts by the Democratic Party to disenfranchise Black voters and "keep Blacks in line." And for all of the terror that groups like the KKK waged on them, Americans should take pride in knowing that their terrorist tactics did not win the day.

In fact, it was Americans of all colors who remained steadfast in the fight against the Klan, the Red Shirts, and the White League. It was Americans who showed the grit and resolve to refuse to bow to their vicious demands. They ultimately won against such terror.

Years before the Civil War and the later formation of the KKK, years before it was known as the "Barbary Coast," San Francisco's waterfront was known as "Sydney Town." The reason it was called "Sydney Town" had to do with the Sydney Ducks. The "Sydney Ducks" was not a political terrorist group like the Democratic Party created Klan. The Ducks were a gang of criminals from Australia.

They arrived in San Francisco because the British penal colonies in Australia thought it a good idea to ship their convicts to California when people from all over the world were arriving in California during the 1849 Gold Rush. It's said Australia ordered ship's Captains to throw convicts overboard if they acted up in any way. And when they were dropped off in California, the convicts quickly took to mugging, murder, and extortion instead of doing the more challenging work of finding a job or digging for gold.

While the Sydney Ducks were not a political terrorist group like the Klan, they had something in common with the Klan -- they used arson to get what they wanted. But unlike the Klan that set fire to homes and businesses to intimidate Blacks on behalf of the Democratic Party, the Sydney Ducks used arson and the threat of fires to criminally extort money from their victims.  

The Ducks were known to extort money from merchants, saloons, and any other business they believed could meet their demands. Of course, they beat the owners, threatened families, and set fire to their business if they refused. Their intimidation worked, and people paid because everyone saw that the Ducks meant business. After all, no one wanted to see their business burned to the ground. It was common knowledge in San Francisco that the Sydney Ducks used arson to get what they wanted. Yes, very much like ANTIFA arsonists today.

People today might not know how much people in the Old West feared fires. It was actually a town's number one concern even before setting up organized law enforcement. As for the Ducks, arson was their weapon of choice for extortion. Arson was what they used to prove they were serious. In fact, the Ducks are believed responsible for the 1849 fire that devastated San Francisco.

They set fires, and no one really knows how many died in those fires as they spread through the city. They did so without thought or care for human life. Sound familiar, it should. Of course, there was a reason that the Ducks were blamed for the fires. That's what they did. Like ANTIFA today, everyone knew arson was their weapon of terror. And just as we know why there is an increase in crime today because of ANTIFA and BLM groups' rampage for more than 3 months, the rampant crime in San Francisco from 1849 to 1851 had to do with the criminal behavior of the Sydney Ducks.

Many arrived chasing the dream of getting rich during the California Gold Rush, yet only to reap failure. Many craftsmen who wanted to shed their trade in favor of going after gold soon found themselves working their trade to keep themselves fed. Yes indeed, many a ship in San Francisco Bay arrived to lose its crew to the goldfields. Of course, the other part of that story is that many a sailor returned to the sea. Many a seeker of gold and fortune found only despair and disappointment when learning gold wasn't just lying around for the taking.  

It's said the Sydney Ducks were criminals who took up to the criminal ways without finding such despair of the slim picking in the gold camps. It's believed the Ducks saw it easier to get rich through intimidation, violence, murder, and extortion. While some opened businesses to get the gold out of hard-working miners' pockets, the Ducks saw that as unnecessary. Instead, they robbed, killed, and burned down the city for gold.

As for following through on their threats to burn down the city? It is believed they started at least a half-dozen major downtown fires that leveled thousands of buildings between 1849 and 1851. All started by the Sydney Ducks as a way to get their victims to meet their demands.

If that does not sound like what is going on today, here's this. It is said that the Ducks lit a fire, especially picking those days when the wind blew downwind of Sydney Town, then they would loot the warehouses and businesses while others were busy fighting the fires.

The threat was real, and people knew it. They understood the ruthlessness, the fact that the Ducks didn't care who died in the fires. They intimidated business owners and city officials. Both paid the Ducks to ensure that their city wouldn't burn. Their lawlessness reached such a level that robbery, arson, and killings in San Francisco took place daily.

As for the law, they were simply too under-manned to search them out. Part of the problem with apprehending the Ducks is that they were part of a large proportion of foreign-born immigrants who had a history of looking at law enforcement and the authorities as oppressors. Though that was the case, the Sydney Ducks were criminals. Those Australian criminals were the dregs of society.

People came to believe that it would take a large force to deal with the Ducks. Certainly a party more extensive than what the county sheriff had on hand. Though brave and resourceful, the county sheriff was too limited to cure the situation.

But because the citizens had enough of what they saw as weak-kneed responses, political promises, and a corrupt city government either too afraid to take strong measures or seen as being run by incompetent officials, the citizens banded. Of course, some of the city fathers wanted to declare Martial Law and alert the militia to deal with the on-going threat.

Using members from dozens of independent militia groups in San Francisco county, more than 700 citizens formed the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1851. Among them were sailors, longshoremen, teamsters, wheelwrights, shipwrights, domestic servants, store owners, merchants, bartenders, saloon keepers, former soldiers, laborers of all types, and others. 

The Sydney Ducks were the reason for the formation of the Committee of Vigilance of 1851. After a few years, and the burning of their city more than a half-dozen times, the death and the destruction, San Francisco citizens were fed up with the promises to stop the chaos. The citizens acted and formed their vigilante committee.

While some think of vigilante groups as merely "a mob," that wasn't the case. Working parallel with the local law, the San Francisco Vigilance Committee turned over some of those they caught to the local authorities. Others were not so lucky. For example, there's a story about when a Sydney Duck was caught in stealing a safe. It's said a dozen members of the newly formed Committee on Vigilance chased the Duck on foot and then by rowboats as the crook tried to row away.

The criminal was not merely taken to a tree and hanged, as would have happened in many gold camps and California's ranchlands where other Vigilance Committees were not so inclined to work within the law's confines. While most such groups were not unruly mobs but instead were organized and used such things as Miners Courts as the basis for their judicial system, not all Vigilance Groups were the same. One such group in Northern California tried a rustler on their way to a hanging tree. Another is known to have pronounced judgment fifteen minutes after catching a sluice box thief in the act. He was caught, tried, and tarred and feathered within an hour. 

The Sydney Duck that was caught stealing the safe in San Francisco was accused and tried in a vigilante court where evidence was provided. He was actually afforded a defense lawyer who was a member of the vigilantes. His trial lasted five hours. He was hanged from the Mexican customs house in front of 1,000 citizens in Portsmouth Square. It's said that after the third hanging of Sydney Ducks, Australia looked like a much safer place for Ducks to apply their criminal ways. With that, Ducks were put on ships and shipped out of town. They left being warned that they would be shot on sight if found anywhere in California.

So how long did the Committee of Vigilance conduct their trials and hangings and conduct forced deportations of Ducks who, in many cases, were beaten before taken a board out-going ships? Well, the citizens of San Francisco formed their Vigilance Committee, decimated the Sydney Ducks, and then disbanded in just 100 days.

Today, the threat of domestic terrorist groups like the KKK and the Sydney Ducks are still with us. There is no difference in what ANTIFA and BLM groups are doing today than what the KKK and the Sydney Ducks did years ago. They riot, loot, assault, murder, and promise to commit arson to get their way. They even threaten America, saying if they don't get what they want in the November 2020 election, they will keep it up. That's domestic terrorism and criminal extortion.

We should all understand that the riots, looting, the murders, and the burning of our cities are simply domestic terrorism to extort something from Americans. Just as those same crimes were used back in the day, it is being used today to achieve political and monetary extortion.

The Political Goal

Today, the Left's political goal is to institute Socialism and, ultimately, Communism. The riots and destruction is being done to eliminate a police presence. The coordinated riots and attacks we are watching take place in the Democratic Party controlled cities across the country are being enabled because the Left knows that law enforcement is an impediment to getting what they want. The Left believes they can take over city and state governments. But only if they can first defund and disband law enforcement agencies. Without the law, they feel they will be free to take over. They believe without the police, they can instill fear in the American people.

The rioting is also seen as a way of keeping Trump supporters from voting at their polls in November. Yes, no different than Democrats allowing the New Black Panthers to carry clubs outside of voting polls to intimidate voters, ANTIFA and BLM believe they can serve the Democratic Party in the same way by making the polls appear too dangerous.

Let's Not Forget The Money! 

As for the Left's monetary goals for conducting these riots? This has to do with the money ANTIFA and BLM get out of all of this. To reward those creating chaos, the Left's loyal soldiers, those destroying cities with Democrat city officials' passive approval, are demanding money and property. To repay them, the Left has convinced their foolish followers that there will be trillions of dollars had in reparations for slavery. They are being promised that they will be paid. Their followers have been promised reparations for something no living person in the United States can say they were ever a part of.

And no, they don't want to stop there. The Left worship's Communism and promises that their massive school loans totaling billions of dollars will all be absolved if Democrats are put in power. That's quite the incentive to riot after squandering their educations listening to Communist professors promising them they will not have to work or produce, just sit on their ass like good Communists. And there's more, the Left is telling their followers that others will support them, that others will surrender their property, that they will be fed and cared for, all as part of that Socialist / Communist Utopia they are promising.

Sounds Insane?

Yes, it's this sort of insanity that is propelling the Left's followers to risk arrest and prosecution. But wait, Democrats in charge of those riotous cities are not charging all of the rioters. While some are being arrested and charged, others, including arsonists caught trying to set a building on fire while knowing people were still inside, are simply being released. That's what is taking place in the Democratic Party controlled cities today. Rioters are not being prosecuted for breaking state laws.

It's an ongoing game of "catch and release" with no consequences for those breaking the law, including assaulting police officers and setting fires. According to my readers in the law enforcement community, that is exactly what is taking place since ANTIFA and BLM are being protected by Democrat city officials. 

Imagine how frustrating that must be? I have friends in law enforcement who write to tell me that it's a terribly frustrating situation. For me, I believe the reason that most officers don't quit and simply walk away has to do with the fact that they are made of better stuff than those who run their cities.

So let's see if this sounds familiar to you regarding what's taking place today. The people breaking the law are doing so while making demands. They say they will continue unless their demands are met. They have threatened to burn down cities -- if we do not give them what they want. 

Does that sound like criminal blackmail? Let's remember that for months the media has been calling those people "peaceful protesters"? That fact, in itself, should tell us that the news media is not to be trusted.

As for the police? I can understand the frustration felt by the police. In fact, that's part of the frustration my readers are feeling. My readers want to know if it's time for citizens to take action, recall those mayors and governor, and organize to eliminate ANTIFA and the BLM criminals who are causing the problems. My readers want to know if they should organize to protect their families and communities, to ready themselves against what some see as a widening threat. Some want to see Old West justice used on the arsonists, looters, and those who would kill others simply because they can. 

Friends, you've heard me talk about this before. There were four primary reasons why vigilante groups appeared in the Old West. First, it was because the law was non-existent. Before there were organized law agencies in towns in the Old West, the townsfolk provided their own security in the form of "Citizens Watch Groups," also known as "Citizens Committees," which are also known as "Vigilante Committees" or "Vigilante Groups." Second, corrupt law enforcement. Vigilante groups formed when citizens found that lawmen were crooked.

In some cases, a crooked lawman's evidence was had when a lawman failed to arrest lawbreakers who they were in cahoots with. Third, corrupt courts. Failure to prosecute criminals because of a corrupt justice system's associations and biases was one reason citizens organized vigilante groups. And lastly, when citizens became so frustrated out of the belief that the justice system was simply too inept to do what was needed, citizens organized. 

In the last case, the lawmen and the courts were most likely doing their job. But because of procedural technicalities and evidentiary rules, or possibly dismissals for several reasons including intimidated witnesses who were too scared to show up for the trial, some witnesses actually disappeared before the trial, citizen frustration grew into forming vigilante groups. 

The later was the situation with Killer Jim Miller, who I've talked about before. He was a known assassin. He was known to use the system. Consequently, because of court technicalities, including witnesses who failed to testify out of fear of retribution from Miller, he kept being acquitted of his crimes. Finally, frustrated citizens had enough of Miller's witness intimidation and acquittals. They stormed the jail, removed him, and a few others. Then the citizens hanged them all from the rafters of an old barn.
     
In almost all cases, no matter the actual reason, citizen frustration created vigilante groups. It makes me wonder when Citizens Committees will be formed in the cities experiencing riots, looting, violence, arson, and murder today?

If city mayors and state governors refuse to request federal troops to come in and stop the chaos, as has been done in more places than one can count throughout our history, are we ready to live with the consequences of what may take place? Why should Americans allow powerful politicians to neuter the police and let America drift further into a complete breakdown of law and order simply to serve some Leftist agenda of altering an election in their favor?

Is a second Civil War with Conservative against Liberal in a shooting war what some want? As most know, the riots and the arson that we see have everything to do with defeating Donald Trump in November. So what happens when the Left doesn't get their way in November? Is it a safe bet to say the riots and destruction will spread outside the cities? Is that really what the Left wants?

If the federal government fails to declare an insurrection and send in troops, it may be up to armed citizens to restore order. If such a complete breakdown of law and order is brought about, will we see frustrated citizens having to form Vigilance Committees to stop the carnage and the murder?

While I can only pray that the course of these events change for the better very soon, if citizens form Vigilance Committees in an effort to restore law and order -- we should all understand that it would not be the first time such a thing has had to be done.

Frankly, lawbreakers today might find things a lot different when dealing with a Citizens Committee who are not trained to observe due process rules. ANTIFA may find it a different world when dealing with citizens who don't see arsonists and murderers as being entitled to fair treatment through the normal judicial system. Yes, in the same way, Killer Jim Miller must have found his world change when Vigilantes threw a rope over a beam in an old barn and hanged him.

Tom Correa