Thursday, September 29, 2016

10 Historical facts about U.S. Marshals by Paty Jager

I found this book, The History of U.S. Marshals by Robin Langley Sommer when I was writing my historical western romance, Improper Pinkerton. I wanted my female Pinkerton to come up against a U.S. Marshal, but I needed to know information about the occupation.  Below are some interesting tidbits about the marshals.

1) The offices of U.S. marshal and deputy marshal were established in 1789 by the Judiciary Act which established the federal judicial system. Their job was to support the federal courts. 

2) Their duties were to serve subpoenas, summonses, writs, warrants, and other processed issued by the courts. As well as arrests and handle prisoners. They disbursed money- paying the fees and expenses of the court clerks, U.S. attorneys, jurors, and witnesses.  Another job was renting courtrooms and jail space, and hiring bailiffs, criers, and janitors. 

3) Before the Civil War, The U.S. Marshals in the North were called upon to capture runaway slaves and return them to the South and the Southern U.S. Marshals tried to stop the slave trade under the realms of piracy. 

4) In the 1800’s before the Civil War, the marshals worked to track down and break up counterfeiting rings.  It was estimated that one-third of the money in circulation by 1860 was counterfeit.

5) During the Civil War the marshals arrested suspected traitors and Confederate sympathizers. They also confiscated property being used to support the rebellion. 

6) 1870-71 the U.S. marshals and deputies supervised all the polling places for Congressional elections to stop the violence against politically active blacks. This was an attempt to defuse the Klan and similar organizations who wore masks or disguises and attacked citizens of different races, colors, and condition of servitude.

7) On the frontier they were the highest ranking law enforcers. 

8) Their duties out west included making sure the mail was delivered and not stolen. They spent many days and months tracking out outlaws who robbed stages and trains taking the mail and currency.  They protected the Indians on reservations, keeping the whites from encroaching on the land the government gave the tribes.  
9) Usually marshals and deputies didn’t shoot to kill and didn’t travel in a large posse.  They usually traveled in groups of four or five along with a wagon for supplies and could be used as a jail. They watched for stolen horses, suspicious travelers, stills, contraband whiskey, and wanted men. 

10) They were paid $.06 per mile traveled and $2 for an arrest. A good year they would make $500.

Paty Jager writes murder mysteries and steamy romance starring cowboys and Indians.
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