Friday, February 7, 2014

A brief history of social uplift in Montana...

The first successful uplift movement in Montana was conceived and accomplished by the Vigilantes. Crude in plan and rude in perfomance, there was an uprising which destroyed the last doubt in lawless minds with respect to the efficiency of government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. It demonstrated that absence of law afforded no excuse for crime and gave security to life and property without increase of taxation. In some of the valleys where the Vigilantes rode, less than half a century ago, land now has a market value of as much as one thousand dollars per acre for orchard home uses, but the most profitable crop which ever hung from Montana trees was in the gruesome forms of dead outlaws. Then and there was implanted a respect for the penalties of wrong-doing and a regard for the rights of others which has endured against the insidious influence of wholesale corruption and the most subtle encroachments upon the powers of government, to the present time. It is today more dangerous in the state of Montana to steal a horse than to loot a bank or to bribe a legislative majority, chiefly because the Vigilantes failed to furnish a precedent in justice for bank-looting and legislative corruption as they did for horse thieving; while later administrators of justice, in the approved manner of courts, have regarded precedent and form and ceremony above the purpose of the law and the effect of justice.

~Jere C. Murphy; The Comical History of Montana: A Serious Story for Free People (1912)

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