Tuesday, November 23, 2010

'True Grit' and the town of Fort Smith

...Fort Smith is on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma. It was once, as they say, the last bastion of law and order before the wild frontier. What was unusual about the federal court in Fort Smith was that it had an unbelievably large coverage area: 75,000 square miles of lawless Indian Territory (now the State of Oklahoma) with one judge to hear all those cases. Any crimes committed in Indian Territory were automatically federal cases. Seeing the frontier as a probable safe haven, troublemakers from all over the country would flee to hide out in this territory, raising hell and robbing, raping, murdering and generally terrorizing anyone who got in their path. There was a popular saying back then, “There is no law west of St. Louis and no God west of Fort Smith.”

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