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ers by a community who had been injured, and who had no law to refer to, and could have no redress if they did not take the law into their own hands; the present system of Lynch law is, on the contrary, an illegal exercise of the power of the majority in opposition to and defiance of the laws of the country, and the measure of jus-v tice administered and awarded by those laws.
It must be remembered that fifty years ago, there were but few white men to the westward of the Alleghany Mountains; that the States of Kentucky and Tennessee were at that time as scanty in population as even now are the districts of Ioway and Columbia; that by the institutions of the Union a district required a certain number of inhabitants before it could be acknowledged as even a district; and that previous to such acknowledgment, the people who had squatted on the land had no claim to protection or law. It must also be borne in mind, that these distant territories offered an
asylum to many who fled from the vengeance of the laws, men without principle, thieves, rogues, and vagabonds, who escaping there, would often interfere with the happiness and peace of some small yet well-conducted community, which had migrated and settled on these fertile regions. These communities had no appeal against personal violence, no protection from rapacity and injustice. They were not yet within the pale of the Union; indeed there are many even now in this precise situation (that of the Mississippi, for instance), who have been necessitated to make laws of government for themselves, and who acting upon their own responsibilities, do very often condemn to death, and execute.* It was, therefore, to remedy the defect of there being no
“ A similar case is to be found at the present day, west of the Mississippi. Upon lands belonging to the United States, not yet surveyed or offered for sale, are numerous bodies of people who have occupied them, with the intention of purchasing them when they shall be brought into the market. These persons are called squatters, and it is not to be supposed that they consist of the elite of the emigrants
to the West; yet we are informed that they, have organized established law, that Lynch law, as it is termed, was applied to; without it, all security, all social happiness would have been in a state of abeyance. By degrees, all disturbers of the pulp lic peace, all offenders against justice met with their deserts; and it is a query, whether on its first institution, any law from the bench was more honestly and impartially administered than this very Lynch law, which has now had its name prostituted by the most barbarous excesses and contemptuous violation of all law whatever. The examples I am able to bring forward of Lynch law, in its primitive state, will all be found to have been based upon necessity, and a due regard to morals and to justice. Fbr instance, the harmony of a well-conducted community would be interfered with by some worth'less scoundrel, who would entice the young men to gaming, or the young women to, deviate from
organized a government for themselves, and regularly elect magistrates to attend to the execution of the laws. They appear, in this respect, to be worthy descendants of the pilgrims.”-—Carey on Wealth.
virtue. He becomes a nuisance to the community, and in consequence the heads or elders would meet and vote his expulsion. Their method was very simple and straight-forward; he was informed that his absence would be agreeable, and that if he did not “clear out” before a certain day, he would receive forty lashes with a cow-hide. If the party thought proper to defy this notice, as soon as the day arrived he received the punishment, with a due notification that, if found there again after a certain time, the dose would be repeated. By these means they rid the community of a bad subject, and the morals of the junior branches were not cofitaminated. Such was in its origin the practice of Lynch law.
A circumstance occurred within these few years in which Lynch law was duly administered. At Dubuque, in the Ioway district, a murder was committed. The people of Dubuque first applied to the authorities of the State of Michigan, but they discovered that the district of Ioway was not within the jurisdiction of that State; and, in fact, although on the opposite side of the river there was law and justice, they had neither to appeal to. They would not allow the murderer to escape; they consequently met, selected among themselves a judge and a jury, tried the man, and, upon their own responsibility, hanged him.
There was another instance which occurred a short time since at Snakes’ Hollow, on the western side of the Mississippi, not far from the town of Dubuque. A band of miscreants, with a view of obtaining possession of some valuable diggings (lead mines) which were in the possession of a grocer who lived in that place, murdered him in the openday. The parties were well known, but they held together and would none of them give evidence. As there were no hopes of their conviction, the people of Snakes” Hollow armed themselves, seized the parties engaged in the transaction,
and ordered them to quit the territory on pain