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THE "COW-BOYS OF ARIZONA"
February 25, 1882, pages 118 & 120 (Illustrated Article)
There is a flavor of Revolutionary times in the facts recently reported to Congress in regard to the lawlessness which prevails in certain portions of the thriving Territory of Arizona, and particularly in the references to certain active members of frontier society known popularly as "Cow-boys." Like the famous fellows whose name they have inherited, these free riders of the mountains have a special fondness for cattle, and very little scruple to the herds from which they take them. It is stated by the acting Governor of Arizona, Mr. Gosper by name, that in number the "Cow-boys" do not exceed fifty. They make the field of their operations, for the most part, in the count of Cachise (so named from a whitish stone found in the silver mines), and their head-quarters are in the town with the highly characteristic title of Tombstone. Here they have peculiar sway. Their regular calling is "stampeding" cattle from the pastures on the hill-sides and in the valleys, or "coolies," and stealing such as they can safely take after the herd has been sent scampering. This life is toilsome and adventurous, but irregular, and the "Cow-boys" seek relief from it in the drinking saloons, gambling hells, and brothels of the Tombstone publicans, and in now and again taking part in the political struggles of the community. By means of their liberal expenditures, and the more or less clandestine relations they maintain with the trades-people of the town, they exert considerable influence, and, as is not an unknown practice in more settled sections, the ambitious find their account in propitiating rather than in seeking to punish the law-breakers. We grieve to say that the sheriff on the one hand, and the police authorities of Tombstone on the other, vie with each other in courting these highwaymen, and we have official sanction for adding that the press has also been demoralized. "Largely through selfish motives of gain," says the Executive of Arizona, the two newspapers have consented to silence that voice of impartial criticism and stern devotion to the public interest of which they should make themselves the organs.
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One of these journalistic sinners receives the county printing from the sheriff, the other the city patronage from the police, and so justice goes unchampioned in the metropolis of Cachise County, the city of Tombstone. It is to such facts, according to the acting Governor, that is due the success of this half-hundred of daring cattle thieves.
From the time when the Scottish clans made forays into the Lowlands to "lift" the unguarded cattle, and the later days when well-mounted freebooters raided the pastures and the farm-yards of Westchester County between the British and the American lines, to the still later period when the "bummers" on the march to the sea lived luxuriously on the beef of Union men and rebels alike, there has always been a fascination in the calling of cattle thief in unsettled territory and in stormy times. The alternation of adventure and ease, the dash, the danger, and the triumph of successful operations, followed by the wild debauch, and the intervals of loafing, appeal to the disordered passions and ill-regulated energies of the border. To these in Arizona, it seems, are added the charms of political consideration and a certain social distinction. Leaders are easily found among the more daring and vigorous scamps of the mining camps, who exercise a rude but powerful rule over their followers, and "work" the various instrumentalities supplied by the motley and confused community. In the present instance it is the Americans of pure blood who act as leaders, while in their bands are found many a Mexican and half-breed. The reports of the acting Governor of Arizona and Secretary Kirkwood present a curious picture of life in the remoter settlements on the confines of civilization. But remembering the immunity of rowdyism and plunder in New York under the Tweed régime, and the recent reported compact between the police of New Orleans and the thieves who went down to attend the Sullivan-Ryan prize-fight, by which the latter were allowed to come and go undisturbed on condition that they should not steal during their unlawful visit, we can not boast of too great superiority to Tombstone in our relations to the criminal classes.

The Arizona "Cow-boys" meantime threaten to become of national importance. The President has recommended that the law be amended so as to allow the civil authorities to call in the cavalry as a posse comitatus. Undoubtedly the cavalry would make short work with the thieving bands, but, on the one hand, it is doubtful whether the civil authorities would call upon the cavalry, and, on the other hand, many Senators and Representatives are opposed to the employment of the army for civil purposes. Our poor skeleton army, scattered in little squads of a score or so each along the wide border-land from the Rio Grande to the mountains of Montana, has still a mysterious terror for the devotees of the "supremacy of the civil over the military power." One would say that fat and comfortable Senators go to bed within the shadow of the Capitol dome expecting to be awakened by a corporal’s guard, ready to lead them to some Washington Mazas, to await the sentence of an American Napoleon III. But this superstition, born of mingled political prejudice and a tradition of a state of things which went out when George III died, ought not to interfere with the provision of some adequate police force for a Territory for the good order of which the Federal government is directly responsible.

February 25, 1882, pages 118 & 120 (Illustrated Article)

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