Following the events of January 6, 2021, talk of vigilantes and mob violence have become a part of our daily discourse, reminding us that we haven’t come as far as we thought from the “wild” days of the Old West. The nineteenth century was a time of opportunity in the West, but it was also fraught with lawlessness, racism, and extreme violence as territories became states, freemen and immigrants settled alongside white homesteaders, and the first unions changed the way we work. Author Michael Rutter examines the growing pains of the American West through the lens of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century vigilantes, outlaws, mob violence, and lynchings, proving that oftentimes our country’s democratic progress comes at the cost of physical violence.
Michael Rutter is a freelance writer who lives in Orem, Utah. He is the author of more than forty books (including Globe Pequot's Fun with the Family Utah and Outlaw Tales of Utah). He teaches English at Brigham Young University.