How Violent Was the Old West?

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How violent was the Old West
The “Old West” is what it was called from the early 1860s to the 1890s. It was anything west of the Mississippi. Contrary to popular belief and what is seen in well- known television series such as “The Wild Wild West” and “Gunsmoke” the Old West was not as violent as it is perceived. At this time in American history, many were in hopes of fulfilling Manifest Destiny, finding adventure and becoming rich. The small populations of these towns may have contributed to the perceived high murder rates. Also it is important to consider who was being killed on the frontier and who the killers were. Lastly, what laws and rules were set in place for these early settlers to follow to keep order here? In cattle towns such as Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell the homicide rates were extremely low. From the years 1870-1885 the murders were recorded. In this 15 year span, only 45 homicides were recorded. That averages out to about 3 murders in the whole region. (Document 2) Also the homicides were recorded per 100,000 people. Although the homicide rate may seem high in mining towns such as Bodie, California and Leadville, Colorado, you must consider that in these small towns the average population is only about 3000. (Document 3)

The Old West also known as the “Great American Desert” extended from southern Canada to Northern Mexico.(Document 1) The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was proposed by Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. It created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska and allowed the settlers of those territories to decide weather it would be a slave or free territory through popular sovereignty. The problems that lie in this were that Native Americans were already there and were becoming more and more agitated by the encroaching settlers. So in response they fought for their land and what was rightfully theirs. One example of them fighting back for their land was the Battle of Beecher’s Island, where General Sheridan and...
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