Western Life

Joaquin Murrieta

Joaquin Murrieta otherwise known as the Robin Hood of the West was a miner that emigrated from the Mexican village of Sonora to America in the pursuit of the Californian gold rush in 1849. Much like other gold miners migrating from far away lands to make a living and provide for their families, Joaquin was heavily discriminated against. The hatred and disgust amongst the American miners was not only against Murrieta, but also all immigrant miners.

Initially, Joaquin lived a peaceful and stable life, and had gained his education at a school in El Salado. However, everything changed with his decision to chase the gold rush on the advice of his brother Joaquin Carillo, who invited him to test his luck and make a fortune for himself. Little did he know that immigrant miners were so heavily despised amongst the American miners. So much so, he and his brother were accused of stealing a mule, for which his brother was lynched and Joaquin was punished with horsewhips while his wife was gang-raped. This changed Joaquin’s course of life and a man who was once peace-driven was now out for blood and would later eventually be recognized as the Robin Hood of the West.

Joaquin ultimately pledged to seek revenge against all those who hurt his wife and his brother and promised himself that his path would not be governed by blood and violence. To make matters even worse, Joaquin along-with other immigrant miners were removed from their mine claims under the Foreign Miner’s Tax of the 1850s. This, along with the tragic incident involving his brother and wife, engulfed him in the flames of revenge and violence. Joaquin had lost everything, his family and his possessions. To seek revenge against the culprits, he formed a gang, the first six victims of which were the Americans involved in the lynching of his brother and the rape of his wife. The gang then involved itself in stealing horses and smuggling them to Mexico. Whenever the gang was not stealing or smuggling horses and mustangs, they were killing and stealing the American miners working in the goldfield. Sources suggest that Joaquin’s gang had been involved in the killing of more than 40 people including Chinese and Americans.

Joaquin’s gang was undeniably a force that had the whole of California scared. Realizing just how dangerous and influential Joaquin’s gang was getting, the state decided to let Rangers take control and ordered them to eliminate Joaquin Murrieta and his gang. By this point, Joaquin Murrieta had already become the state’s most wanted and any crime that would take place, Joaquin Murrieta would automatically be considered the first suspect.

The rangers ultimately encountered, shot and killed Joaquin Murrieta whose head was then later displayed as proof. However, some historians doubt if it was really Murrieta’s head and some versions even suggest that Murrieta escaped and went underground. The story of Joaquin Murrieta has inspired many works of Mexican literature including a number of books written on him.

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