Our system of crime and punishment is divided into two - a state and federal. There are certain offenses that the federal government has reserved to itself the right to prosecute and punish. Immigration offenses, certain types of drug offenses, and bank robbery are some. But this wasn't always so.
Immigration was an outgrowth of the original Naturalization Act of 1790. That Act's purpose was mainly to draw a line for who was "in" and who was "out" when it came to participating in the affairs of government - and it was drawn by race. By the end of the Civil War, however, so many people had come to the United States from all over the world, that people began clamoring for some restrictions on who could even come into the country. The history of immigration is checkered with, first, "welcoming" people from other countries to exploit them as cheap labor, then "barring" them when too many of them came. It has been done with Chinese, Japanese, Irish, and Mexicans. African Americans do not fall into this category - they were brought here by force and they weren't cheap labor, their labor was free.
Society has a history of embracing what are now considered illegal drugs - usually because when they were first discovered they were used for medicinal purposes. The word "addiction" as we use it today in reference to drugs and other unsavory habits was not used that way until the early part of the 20th century, although the word "addict" has been in use since the 17th.
Banks have been around for a long time, but in early days in the U.S. they were localized. It wasn't until Americans began to expand west that banks began to flourish on a wide scale. Even so, the federal government didn't get into the act until after the Stock Market Crash in 1929.This Day in History: The first bank robbery in broad daylight occurred in New York City on this day in 1831 when Edward Smith robbed the City Bank. He was later caught and sent to Sing Sing Prison. How much did he get away with before he was caught?
Labels: Legal History