Vohryzek-Bolden et al. (2001) indicated that the genocidal policies against the North American Indians was the first form of terrorism in the United States. This happened before the Constitution was signed, when the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was mapped out the manner in which the U. S. government would deal with the Indian nations. The Ordinance proclaimed that the government would observe “the utmost good faith” in dealing with Indians and promised that their lands would not be invaded or taken except “in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress.
” The Indian policies have been contradictory in practice because these policies endorsed actions most beneficial to the non-Indian population, making them prone to terrorism (p. 40). A study by Bell and Gurr (1979) viewed early forms of terrorism in the United States at the late 1800s. Despite the American paranoia about radicals, terrorism in the nineteenth century was primarily aimed at protecting the status quo and the economic environment. The actions of company security police and private corporations were often terroristic in nature.
They were designed to keep workers from disrupting production. Labor radicals, however, also behaved violently; the labor movement of the late nineteenth century was replete with violence. Bell and Gurr label this a manifestation of terrorism. Labor violence was not the only source of early U. S. terrorism. The frontier had its own special form of violence. As the frontier expanded, the laws of the United States trailed far behind. Settlers developed their own brand of makeshift justice. At times, this type of justice spilled over into vigilante activities.
Bell and Gurr (1979) refer to some aspects of the vigilante movement as terrorism. The Ku Klux Klan after the Civil War is an example. In October 1915, Ku Klux Klan was launched as a movement signalizing its progress by campaigns of religious and racial hatred enforced by terrorism. A meeting called by William Joseph Simmons to start the organization was attended, he stated, by thirty-four “splendid citizens of the State of Georgia” who signed an application for a charter which was granted by that State, on December 4, 1915, to the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Somewhat later in Simmons’ testimony, it developed, one of these “splendid citizens” repeatedly came into that “Imperial Wizard’s” office and “would tell me of the great money-making possibilities, provided certain plans that he had worked out should be authorized and enforced . . . finally stating that he could guarantee a cold $1,000,000 to myself and to himself if those plans were carried out. ” This organization came into activity with a four-fold program of antagonism to Catholics, Jews, the foreign-born and Negroes.
A Congressional investigation brought out the circumstances of its founding. In more vivid detail Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, of Missouri, gave a summary of the Klan’s operations: During the past year a constant succession of violent and criminal assaults on individuals, consisting of abductions, floggings, brandings, irreparable mutilations, application of tar and feathers to men and women, and, in several instances, murders, have been reported from various parts of the country. . .
. Terrorization, active or passive, of the colored people in American communities, has been one of the Klan’s principal objects. . . . The name Ku Klux alone is enough to thoroughly frighten the average ignorant Negro (Myers, 1960, p. 223). Representative Dyer said he had received various letters from men in the South who had been ruined physically and whose homes had been broken up and businesses destroyed. They belonged to particular religious groups against which the Klan was conducting its violent propaganda.
“Abundant evidence exists,” Dyer went on, “that such propaganda, directed particularly against those American citizens who happen to be Catholics or Jews, has been actively circulated by the professional solicitors who have been making a living getting members of the Klan on a commission basis. Corollary evidence that the Klan is systematically cultivating such militant bigotry is found in the contents of its semi-official publication, The Searchlight of Atlanta, the pages of which literally drip with venomous and frequently totally baseless attacks on the Catholics and Jews (Myers 1960, p.
224). I think these early forms of terrorist activities are no different than what the modern ones are sowing these days. They promote fear among innocent civilians and endanger lives just to get what they want. The only difference is that modern terrorism could inflict more damage because they have modern weapons which could decimate thousands of people in seconds. The United States is already putting nearly half a billion dollars into fighting terrorism and stemming the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Ali, S. R. , and J. J. Bowe. (1988). Terrorism in the Middle East.International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, 12(1). Bell, J. B. and Gurr, T. R. (1979) “Terrorism and Revolution in America. ” In Hugh D. Graham and Ted Robert Gurr (eds. ), Violence in America. Newbury Park, CA : Sage . Cable, Larry. (1987) Piercing the Mists: Intelligence and Policy in Constrained Lethality and Ambiguous Conflicts. Paper presented at the International Studies Association Section on Military Studies Conference, Atlanta. Coker, C. (2003). 24 War Without Warriors. In Global Responses to Terrorism: 9/11, Afghanistan and beyond, Buckley, M. & Fawn, R. (Eds. ) (pp. 284-295). New York: Routledge.