Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

America's First Serial Killers

Emerging from Turmoil

In the early history of North America, Great Britain had established thirteen colonies along the Eastern seaboard. After the British defeated the French in 1763, the colonials grew restless with the rule of King George III, especially with his increasing taxation. Tension grew as leaders like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams rallied the colonists to throw off King George and become a new country.

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

To achieve representation in legal and economic matters, they went to war in 1775, fighting with everything they had against the "Redcoats" and finally forcing a British surrender in 1781. Declaring independence, they drew up a constitution. This new United State of America rejected the idea of rule by the elite, and as the first democracy of the modern world, the people voted leaders into power. While the new government had its problems, it would eventually emerge to fulfill its founders' dreams. Still, there were those who exploited the transitional chaos, especially in the unsettled West. As Breazeale put it, "We now have a narrative to relate, which must shock and horrify the soul of every individual possessing the ordinary social feelings and sympathies of human nature."

Females especially, he says, will shudder in their souls over the "tragic deeds of carnage and death." Males will feel indignant about the way murder was committed "for the gratification of a hellish thirst for carnage and a fiendish delight in human misery." Breazeale was referring, of course, to the Harpes.

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