The actions of the U.S. Marshals, the first federal law enforcement officers, are intricately linked to the Constitution. Their job is to uphold the rule of law, despite public opinion. In “A Changing Nation,” visitors will learn there are often two sides to every issue.
An interactive desk with “gesture technology” will illustrate how the Constitution guides the actions of U.S. Marshals by allowing visitors to manipulate its pages. A touch on Article I, for example,will bring to the surface a description of the first census and visitors may discover why the Marshals were chosen to carry out this important duty.
The teaching space in this gallery will be the replica of a contemporary courtroom, and vignettes on three eras in American history will be highlighted.
Through the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Marshals, many against their own personal beliefs, apprehended escaped slaves and returned them to their masters.
Nearly 100 years later, African-Americans worked to secure their rights as U.S. citizens. First-hand oral accounts and audio visual presentations will transport visitors back to the time when the Marshals protected many U.S.citizens from violence.
A tax on whiskey caused one of the first crises of a new nation when a mob in western Pennsylvania refused to abide by the law. The U.S. Marshals were ordered, by George Washington, to protect tax collectors from the rebels prior to his summoning state militias.
U.S. Marshals played a prominent part in the most turbulent labor strikes of the 19th century. During the Pullman Strike of 1894, they were charged with protecting the railways to keep the mail moving. Though the results were less than positive, stories like these reflect the challenges the USMS faced throughout history.