Violence has been part of the fabric of American lives since the first settlement in 1607. In colonial America, there were vast distances between settlements, and traveling between them was often difficult and time-consuming. Thus, crimes tended to be concentrated in small areas. Most premature deaths in the colonies were caused by disease or violence, and both were seen as inevitable aspects of life. In this harsh environment, vigilante groups often sought out accused violators and exacted their own brand of justice. Vigilantism was more ...

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