For most Americans the image of the Old West promoted by movies and novels is a familiar one. Drunken cowboys shooting up the town, confrontations with the law and a body swinging from a rope have all been portrayed by Hollywood. Those events probably didn’t happen as often as we’ve all believed … but sometimes they actually did occur.
In 1883 when the Marquis de Mores arrived in the Badlands of Dakota Territory, the area had no organized government or resident lawmen. The West, in those days, did have many characters who believed that there was more equality and justice in a six-shooter than in a court of law.
The events which would take place within a few months of his arrival would overshadow his entire tenure in the Badlands. Some have said that it may have added to the failure of his dreams.
About this Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. This is one of a series of lessons and will concentrate on the violence that occurred in Dakota Territory and how it affected the Marquis de Mores and his dream of building a cattle empire in the Badlands. The general lesson Introduction and Family Biographies sections are additional background for this lesson. The readings for this lesson have been excerpted from books and articles on the Suggested Reading list. Teachers may decide to use them as a basis for lecture or use them as readings for students, depending upon the students’ abilities.
The Frontier Justice in Dakota lesson was written by Barbara Carlson, seasonal interpreter at the Chateau de Mores Historic Site and approved by the State Historical Society of North Dakota Education Office.
Where it fits in the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American history or social studies units on westward expansion and settlement or North Dakota Studies. It could also be used in a government unit on law and order.
Time period: Late 19th century, The Gilded Age
Objectives for Students
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