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Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves
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<Art T. Burton>
posted
Muskogee Phoenix. Saturday, January 15, 1910

BASS REEVES
Bass Reeves, negro, was buried yesterday and the funeral was attended by a large number of white people--men who in the early days knew the old deputy marshal and admired him as a faithful officer and respected him as an honest man.

Bass Reeves was an unique character. Absolutely fearless and knowing no master but duty, the placing of a writ in his hands for service meant that the letter of the law would be fulfilled though his life paid the penalty. In the carrying out of his orders during his thirty-two years as deputy United States marshal in the old Indian Territory days, Bass Reeves faced death a hundred times, many desperate characters sought his life yet the old man even on the brink of the grave went along the pathway of duty with the simple faith that some men have who believe that they are in the care of special providence when they are doing right.

The arrest of his own son for wife-murder, for which crime the young man is now serving a life sentence, is the best illustration of the old deputy's Spartan character. He performed that duty as he did all others entrusted to him---and he was invariably given the worst cases---with an eye single to doing his duty under the law.

Black-skinned, illiterate, offspring of slaves whose ancestors were savages, this simple old man's life stands white and pure alongside some of our present-day officials in charge of affairs since the advent of statehood. To them duty, honor and respect for law are but by-words, and their only creed is "get what you can and stand in with the Boss."

Bass Reeves would not have served under such a regime. Black though he was he was too white for that. His simple, honest faith in the righteousness of the law would brook no disrespect for its mandates, and some of the little ones in charge now would not have dared suggest such a thing to this man who feared nothing but the possibility that he might do wrong.

Bass is dead. He was buried with high honors, and his name will be recorded in the archives of the court as a faithful servant of the law and a brave officer. And it was fitting that such recognition was bestowed upon this man. It is fitting that, black or white, our people have the manhood to recognize character and faithfulness to duty. And it is lamentable that we as white people must go to this poor, simple old negro to learn a lesson in courage, honesty and faithfulness to official duty.
 
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