“The United States Marshals Service (USMS) is the oldest American federal law enforcement agency.”
THE U.S. MARSHALS ARE BORN
The Judiciary Act was approved by Congress in 1789. President George Washington signed the act into law, then appointed thirteen U.S. Marshals to act as census takers. The Federal Census was conducted in 1870, and every decade thereafter, by the U.S. Marshals. This role continued until 1870 when the U.S. Marshal’s no longer held that responsibility.
U.S. Marshals continued with law-enforcement roles throughout the 19th century. They labored to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. They guarded President Lincoln. During the Civil War, they sought out Confederate spies and confiscated property used to support the Confederacy. The Marshals pursued counterfeiters as the primary lawmen the Treasury Department relied upon until the Secret Service was created for that role in 1865. In 1871, the Department of Justice was created, encompassing the U.S. Marshals. Then came the Moonshine War and the Marshals’ efforts to enforce the whiskey tax laws.
The Marshals were given extensive authority to support the federal courts within their judicial districts and to carry out all lawful orders issued by judges, Congress, or the president. As a balance to this broad grant of authority, Congress imposed a time limit on the tenure of Marshals, the only office created by the Judiciary Act with an automatic expiration. Marshals were limited to four-year, renewable terms, serving at the pleasure of the president.
Until the mid-20th century, the Marshals hired their own Deputies, often firing the Deputies who had worked for the previous Marshal. thus, the limitation on the Marshal’s term of office frequently extended to the Deputies as well.
1875: BASS REEVES
Bass Reeves is among the first known African American Deputy U.S. Marshals west of the Mississippi. He serves for 32 years, until 1907, in the Western District of Arkansas and Indian Territory. He arrests more than 3,000 felons during his career. [Source]
1877: FREDERICK DOUGLASS
Frederick Douglass becomes the first African American U.S. Marshal upon his appointment by President Hayes on March 17. Douglass is the U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia and serves until 1881. [Source]
1878: LINCOLN COUNTY WAR
Lincoln County War is a conflict in the New Mexico Territory between rival factions; U.S. Marshals fight on both sides of the conflict, cresting through the first half of the year. Billy the Kid serves as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal. [Source]
1881: GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL
October in Tombstone, Arizona Territory, deputy U.S. Marshal Virgil Earp and Special Deputy U.S. Marshals, brothers Wyatt and Morgan Earp, along with Doctor John “Doc” Holliday, gun down Frank and Tom McLaury as well as Billy Clanton a short distance from the O.K. Corral. [Source]
1890: PROTECTION OF FEDERAL JUDGES
In the April Supreme Court decision, In Re Neagle, the Court holds that the President can, through the Attorney General, direct a U.S. Marshal to accompany and protect federal judges from assault, thus establishing one of the primary missions of the Marshals Service to protect the federal judiciary. [Source]
1894: PULLMAN STRIKE
The Pullman Strike begins May 11. The federal courts and President Cleveland’s Administration over U.S. Marshals to keep trains running to ensure the U.S. mail is safe from theft and damage. [Source] (emphasis added) “In 1894, U.S. Marshals helped suppress the Pullman Strike.” [Source]
19th CENTURY ENFORCEMENT ROLES, U.S. TERRITORY
During the settlement of the American Frontier, marshals served as the main source of day-to-day law enforcement in areas that had no local government of their own [Larry D. Ball, The United States Marshals of New Mexico and Arizona Territories, 1846-1912 (1978).]. U.S. Marshals were instrumental in keeping law and order in the “Old West” era. They were involved in apprehending desperadoes such as Bill Doolin, Ned Christie, and in 1893, the infamous Dalton Gang after a shoot-out that left Deputy marshals Ham Hueston, Lafe Shadley, and posse member Dick Speed, dead. Individual deputy marshals have been seen as legendary heroes in the face of rampant lawlessness with Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Dallas Stoudenmire, and Bass Reeves as examples of well-known marshals. Bill Tilghman, Heck Thomas, and Chris Madsen formed a legendary law enforcement trio known as “The Three Guardsmen” when they worked together policing the vast, lawless Oklahoma and Indian Territories. [Source]
The U.S. Marshals’ history continues, but I’m most interested in the facts leading up to the turn of the century (1900) when August “Gus” Rose (my fictional character is Maybe This Christmas, the hero in The Marshal’s Surrender, and mentioned in The Drifter’s Proposal) worked as a Deputy U.S. Marshal in the East. He showed up in my town of Mountain Home, Colorado in December of 1899 and panicked Effie–she was sure he’d come after her, to bring her back in irons to answer for her crimes.
The Marshal’s Surrender is book #3 in a (currently) 4-book long series. Book 4 came out before book 3 and caused a lot of confusion. The good news is Book 3 is finally here! It’s available for preorder at a steep 67% savings! The price is 99¢ until the week of release when it will rise to the normal price of $2.99.
Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt LC