☆Bass Reeves☆ former US. slave overcomes white people to become a US Marshal, capturing and locking up over 3000 white criminals in his career before retiring unscaved
by Art T. Burton
(1838-January 12, 1910)
During the late 19th Century no area in the United States was a haven and a refuge for criminals like the Indian Territory, pre–statehood Oklahoma. The jurisdiction of this territory fell to the United States court for Western Arkansas, located at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith, a frontier town, was located on the eastern border of the Indian Territory. The court was the largest federal court in United States history covering over 75,000 square miles. In 1875, Judge Isaac C. Parker, was given the task of cleaning up the territory by President Ulysses Grant. It would not be an easy task. Parker authorized the hiring of 200 deputy U.S. marshals to sweep over the territory and arrest felons and fugitives. The Fort Smith federal court never hired that many deputies to work, there were usually between twenty and thirty deputies at any one time.
The Indian Territory was originally the domain of the Five Civilized Tribes, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole. Due to the fact that some of the Indians fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, the western portion of the territory was taken away and set aside as reservation space for Plains Indians. The Five Tribes had their own governments, courts, and police, but could not arrest white or black men who were not citizens of the tribes. This task fell to the deputy U.S. marshals who worked out of Fort Smith. Also, the deputies were responsible for arresting Indians who committed crimes against white or black men.
One of the first of the deputies hired by Judge Parker’s court was a former slave from Texas named Bass Reeves. It is believed that Reeves fought in the Indian Territory during the Civil War with the Union Indian brigades. Reeves was known as an expert with pistol and rifle, stood about six foot, two inches, weighed 180 pounds, and was said to have superhuman strength. Reeves had a reputation throughout the territory for his ability to catch outlaws that other deputies couldn’t. He was known to work in disguise in order to get information and affect the arrest of fugitives he wanted to capture.
Reeves was involved in numerous shootouts but was never wounded. He stated that he killed fourteen men in self defense, at the time of his death newspapers reported that he had killed over twenty men. In 1901, Reeves was interviewed by a Territorial newspaper, at that time he stated he had arrested over 3000 men and women who had broke federal laws in the Indian Territory. The Indian Territory, later to include the Oklahoma Territory, in 1890, was the most dangerous area for federal peace officers in the Old West. More than one hundred and twenty lost their lives before Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Bass Reeves escaped numerous assassination attempts on his life, he was the most feared deputy U.S. marshal to work the Indian Territory.
Reeves according to research is the only deputy on record who started working for Parker’s court in 1875 and worked up to statehood in 1907. Bass Reeves worked a total of thirty–two years as a deputy U.S. marshal in the Indian Territory.
Being a former slave, Reeves was illiterate. He would memorize his warrants and writs. In those thirty–two years it is said he never arrested the wrong person due to the fact he couldn’t read.
On one occasion, Reeves son, Bennie committed a domestic murder against his wife. Bass took the warrant and bought his son in for murder shortly thereafter his son convicted and sent to Leavenworth.
At the age of 67, Bass Reeves retired from federal service at Oklahoma statehood in 1907. He was hired as a city policeman in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he served for about two years. Reeves had a beat in downtown Muskogee, during that time it is reported there was not one crime reported on his beat. It was told by residents that Reeves while walking his beat he would have a sidekick who carried a satchel of pistols.
African American deputy U.S. Marshals who worked the Indian Territory had the authority to arrest whites, blacks or Indians who broke federal laws. This was a very unique reality for black men given the Jim Crow laws of the U.S. after the end of Reconstruction in 1877. On one occasion Bass Reeves was given the warrant for Belle Starr, it was the one time she turned herself in at the Fort Smith Federal Court. Bass Reeves was a legend in his own time. He was the epitome of dedication to duty, Judge Parker’s most trusted deputy and one of the greatest lawmen of the western frontier. On January 12, 1910, Bass Reeves died at the age of 71, in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Did You Know?
The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, (Muscogee) Creek and Seminole Indian tribes were forcibly moved to Indian Territory on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The Arkansas River served as a water route to Fort Smith where they received supplies before crossing the river into Indian Territory.
*plays Brotha by Angie Stone in the background and dims the lights* I continue to thank God for the men with skin rich in melanin. He took his time on you. You beautiful black men…with your beards and tattoos…your intelligence…your wit…strong-willingness to bend the rules. The protectors. The workers. Our Princes. Our Kings. Us beautiful black women, thank you for treating us as Princesses and Queens. We love you.
I want them all 😍
Jesus take the wheel !
"At Rio Americano High School in Sacramento CA, a student named Dejza, was violently assaulted by a vice principal, Matt Collier, for attempting to take back a piece of art with a political message that the administration didn’t like. She was put in a chokehold and slammed against the desk. When she tried to resist this unlawful abuse of authority, she was slammed and held onto the ground. Matt Collier laid on top of her, crushing her with his weight. Dejza could not breathe, and begged Collier to get off of her. Luckily, another faculty member came in and ended the situation. Dejza went to see a doctor for severe whiplash, and yesterday was her first day of physical therapy. Despite this being blatantly wrong and illegal, the administration has put her on suspension for resisting, and Collier was not disciplined. On the fifth day of her suspension, she will attend a meeting held by bias members of the administration to determine if she will be expelled.
They have tried to silence anyone who speaks out on social media, but today we have gathered in person for a silent sit-in protest.
Dejza has been wronged, and brutalized, and now she is receiving punishment. They’ve tried to silence her. They’ve tried to silence us.” -Grant Wright
One of my friends Grant posted this on facebook and even though im not in Sacramento I want to help. This girl has been mistreated by a full grown man who may never be punished. I want to help spread awareness. So please, spread this around. Let people know that this is NOT okay. The more support we have, the better.
i’m so proud to have been a part of this today but you guys please please please please reblog/spread this around any way you possibly can it’s so important and her story needs to be heard by people outside of our city because what this man did is so so so incredibly far from okay
arrest Matt Collier. protect and redeem Dejza.
They’re being forced to risk their lives, so yeah I would say this is a violation of their right to life.
Everytime I look around, the US Govt, or some part there-of on State or National level; is finding a way to reintroduce slavery.
Fucking hell. The prison industrial complex finds new ways to shock, revile and disgust every day.
This isn’t “a way to reintroduce slavery,” though. The 13th Amendment, which ended slavery, was very precisely written:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
This is why black people make up 14% of the US population and 40% of the prison population and why Native Americans make up less than 1% of the US population but 2% of the prison population.
This isnt slavery. These are people who commit crimes like murder and child molestation that are being punished for there actions through physical labor. God forbid they do something other than sit on their asses all day in jail.
Literally nothing you just said is based in fact.
The men fighting these fires are all low-level offenders, primarily with charges for drugs, robbery, and other non-violent offenses (and, fyi, non-violent offenses are what 50% of state prisoners and about 90% of federal prisoners are incarcerated for). US prison has largely been a privatized, for-profit industry since the 1980s. Law changes like mandatory minimums for low-level crime have ensured that the incarceration rate has done nothing but skyrocket because private prisons need a steady flow of inmates to turn profit and our government is contractually obligated to provide that steady flow. Hell, drug-related charges account for over half of that rise of rate. Marginalized groups are targeted disproportionately for incarceration through systemic poverty, inaccessible education, social instability, etc (all which increase risk of drug abuse and other criminal behavior), racial profiling by LEOs, and by being given much harsher sentences than more privileged counterparts. And that’s without even touching on wrongful conviction rates, which are about 6% for violent crimes and estimated to be much higher with lesser offenses.
And criminals are sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment. The confinement and denial of personal agency is the punishment. And prison is meant to serve two purposes: punishment and rehabilitation. Prison work programs are about neither—they exist primarily to defray costs of housing inmates (and, thus, increase profits for private prisons). And bondage, subjugation, and forced labor for other’s financial gain is practically the textbook definition of slavery, so idk what to tell you. There are lots of ways to keep prisoners from “sitting on their asses all day” that don’t involve treating these men and women as unworthy of humane treatment, empathy, and compassion. Hell, work programs are even a really viable option for that when approached with the right intentions.
Seriously, I really urge you to do some reading about mass incarceration, racial disparities in incarceration, the privatization of the prison industry, etc. if you’re going to have an opinion on this stuff because ignorance isn’t a good look on anyone.
"She removes her wig, her eyelashes, her makeup, never breaking eye contact with the reflection of her natural self. It’s an intimate, powerful moment television doesn’t often show: A black woman removing all the elements white supremacy tells her she has to wear to be beautiful, successful, powerful." (x)