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Steadfast Conservatives : Generally critical of government, especially social safety net programs, but also critical of big business and immigrants. Most are very socially conservative. Business Conservatives : Overall, critical of government regulation and social-welfare spending, but not of big business.

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For the most part, moderate to liberal on social issues, with positive views toward immigrants. Young Outsiders : Tend to be distrustful of government programs and fiscally conservative, but very liberal on social issues and not very religious. Hard-Pressed Skeptics : Generally distrustful of government, except for social safety net spending. On average, low-income, anti-immigrant compared with other groups.

Next Generation Left : Generally positive feelings about government, but less so for social programs. Tend to be business-oriented and individualistic. Faith and Family Left : By and large, highly religious, socially conservative, but strongly support social safety net and government action more broadly. Follow the money.

Johnson County War

American cattle ranches rely on American farmers for feed. The American cattleman has been royally screwed over by foreign beef imports with many ranchers run completely out of business. Consequently, we have 8. Those missing cows would be eating a lot of corn. Also, if we were raising and feeding the half-a-million cattle that we import each year for immediate slaughter, there would be additional demand for crops that could have fed those animals, right here in the U.

The conflict began when cattle companies started ruthlessly persecuting alleged rustlers in the area, many of whom were innocent settlers who competed with them for land, livestock and water rights. As tensions swelled between the large established ranchers and the smaller settlers in the state, violence finally broke out in Powder River Country , when the ranchers hired gunmen to invade the county.

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The gunmen's initial incursion in the territory aroused the small farmers and ranchers, as well as the state lawmen , and they formed a posse of men that led to a grueling stand-off. The siege ended when the United States Cavalry on the orders of President Benjamin Harrison relieved the two forces, although further fighting persisted in the following months.

The events have since become a highly mythologized and symbolic story of the Wild West , and over the years variations of the storyline have come to include some of its most famous historical figures. In addition to being one of the most well-known range wars of the American frontier, its themes, especially class warfare , served as a basis for numerous popular novels, films, and television shows in the Western genre. Conflict over land was a common occurrence in the development of the American West , but was particularly prevalent during the late 19th century, when large portions of the West were being settled by white Americans for the first time through the Homestead Acts.

In the early days of Wyoming most of the land was in public domain, which was open to stock raising as an open range and farmlands for homesteading. Large numbers of cattle were turned loose on the open range by large ranches.

Each spring, round-ups were held to separate the cattle belonging to different ranches. Before a round-up, an orphan or stray calf was sometimes surreptitiously branded, which was the common way to identify the cow's owners. Lands and water rights were usually distributed to whoever settled the property first, and farmers and ranchers had to respect these boundaries the doctrine was known as Prior Appropriation.

They also forbade their employees from owning cattle for fear of additional competition, and threatened anyone they suspected to be rustlers. Some of the harsher tactics included forcing settlers off their land, setting fire to their properties, and excluding them from participating in the annual roundup. They justified these excesses on what was public land by using the catch-all allegation of rustling.

Hostilities worsened when the Wyoming legislature passed the Maverick Act, which stated that all unbranded cattle in the open range automatically belonged to the cattlemen's association.


Comprising some of the state's wealthiest and most influential residents, the organization held a great deal of political sway in the state and region. The WSGA organized the cattle industry by scheduling roundups and cattle shipments. Grangers and rustlers often intermixed with one another in the community, making it more difficult for the detectives to discriminate who were the criminals and the innocent.

Rustling in the local area was likely increasing due to the harsh grazing conditions, and the illegal exploits of organized groups of rustlers were becoming well publicized in the late s. Canton , Sheriff of Johnson County in the early s and better known as a detective for the WSGA, was a prominent figure in eliminating these supposed criminals from Wyoming. Before the events in Johnson County, Canton had already developed a reputation as a lethal gunman. At a young age he had worked as a cowboy in Texas, and in started a career in robbery and cattle rustling, as well as killing a Buffalo Soldier on October 10, Historian Harry Sinclair Drago described Canton as a "merciless, congenital, emotionless killer.

For pay, he murdered eight—very likely ten—men. On July 20, , a range detective from the Association named George Henderson accused Ella Watson , a local rancher, of stealing cattle from a fellow rancher by the name of Albert John Bothwell. The cattlemen sent riders to seize Ella before capturing her husband Jim Averell as well. Both of them were subsequently hanged from a tree. This gruesome act was one of the rare cases in the Old West in which a woman was lynched, an event that appalled many of the local residents [7] and paved the way for future conflicts in the war.

However, before the trial, threats were sent to the witnesses who would testify against the aggressors. Enemies of the Association soon fought back. George Henderson, the range detective who had accused Ella Watson, was murdered by rustlers near Sweetwater Creek in October , an obvious taunt to the Association.

The cattle barons soon tightened their control and hunted down those who tried to oppose them. The double lynching of the Averells was followed by the lynching of Tom Waggoner, a horse trader from Newcastle, in June Upon hearing this, the WSGA immediately viewed Champion's association as a threat to their hold on the stock interests. However, the latter refused the orders to disband and instead publicly announced their plans to hold their own round-up in the spring of Soon, the prominent cattlemen sent out an assassination squad to kill Nate Champion on the morning of November 1, Champion was immediately awakened by the intrusion, and as the gunmen pointed their weapons at him, Champion reached for his own pistol hidden under a pillow and a shootout commenced.

Champion successfully shot two of the gunmen; mortally wounding and killing Billy Lykins.

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Champion was left uninjured except for some facial powder burns from the gunfight. In a subsequent investigation of the attack, the names of those involved were leaked to two ranchers: John A.

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Tisdale and Orley "Ranger" Jones. However, both men were ambushed while they were riding, which outraged many of the small ranchers and farmers in the county. Acting Governor Amos W. Barber supported the cattlemen, who blamed the small ranchers and homesteaders for the criminal activity in the state, while former cowboy and sheriff of Buffalo the county seat of Johnson County , William "Red" Angus, supported the homesteaders, who believed that the cattle barons were stealing their land. In March , the cattlemen sent agents to Texas from Cheyenne and Idaho to recruit gunmen and finally carry out their plans for exterminating the homesteaders.

One particular act of violence perpetrated by the Texans was recounted by cowboy John J. Baker, where the Texans ambushed and killed nine trappers whom they mistook for rustlers in Big Dry Creek, Wyoming. Soon, 23 gunmen from Paris, Texas and 4 cattle detectives from the WSGA were hired, as well as Wyoming dignitaries who also joined the expedition. State Senator Bob Tisdale, state water commissioner W. Clarke, as well as W. Irvine and Hubert Teshemacher, who had both been instrumental in organizing Wyoming's statehood four years earlier, also joined the band. Clover, whose lurid first-hand accounts later appeared in eastern newspapers.

John Clay, a prominent Wyoming businessman, was suspected of playing a major role in planning the Johnson County invasion. Clay denied this, saying that in he advised Wolcott against the scheme and was out of the country when it was undertaken. He later helped the "Invaders" avoid punishment after their surrender. They were tasked to perform the assassination that others had failed to carry out five months before. The group traveled to the ranch late Friday, April 8, , quietly surrounded the buildings, and waited for daybreak. Two men who were evidently going to spend the night on their way through were captured as they emerged from the cabin early that morning to collect water at the nearby Powder River, while the third, Nick Ray, was shot while standing inside the doorway of the cabin.

The latter died hours later, and Champion was left besieged inside the log cabin alone. Champion held out for several hours, wounding three of the vigilantes, and was said to have killed four others. The Invaders recognized Jack Flagg as one of the men on the list and they started shooting at him. Flagg then rode away and, as the Invaders gave chase, he grabbed his rifle and beat them back.

During the siege, Champion kept a poignant journal which contained a number of notes he wrote to friends while taking cover inside the cabin. I wish there was someone here with me so we could watch all sides at once," he wrote.

The last journal entry read: "Well, they have just got through shelling the house like hail. I heard them splitting wood. I guess they are going to fire the house tonight. I think I will make a break when night comes, if alive.

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Shooting again. It's not night yet. The house is all fired. Goodbye, boys, if I never see you again.