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Bass Reeves - Oath of Office as U.S. Deputy Marshal

Bass Reeves - Oath of Office as U.S. Deputy Marshal American History Nineteenth Century Life Government African American History Slaves and Slave Owners Legends and Legendary People

This image depicts an Oath of Office which Bass Reeves took during his career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal.

As this document indicates, Reeves worked for the Federal District Court for the Western District of Arkansas.

Although he could neither read nor write—since he was born a slave and American slaves were generally not allowed to have an education—Reeves was able to do his job because others would read arrest warrants to him. Reeves would then memorize the words of the warrant before he went after the outlaw.

In addition, Reeves knew five different Native-American languages, which significantly benefitted his employer (since Reeves' jurisdiction included "Indian Territory").

Speaking of Reeves' employer ... note that this Oath was also signed by "I C Parker." That is Judge Isaac C. Parker (of the District Court for the Western District of Arkansas).

Click on the image for a better view.


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy U.S. National Archives. Public-Domain image.

 

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