Bass Reeves once single-handedly arrested 19 horse thieves. A deputy U.S. Marshal from 1875 to 1907, Reeves made more than 3,000 arrests and even once arrested his own son who was wanted for murder. But despite his reputation as a fearless and skilled officer, Reeves wasn’t mentioned in the U.S. Marshals Service’s official history book.The reason is that Reeves was an African American, says Springfield resident and historian Robert Moore, himself a former U.S. Marshal. Moore, 68, has dedicated his retirement years to the history of African Americans in the U.S. Marshals Service, touring the nation with an exhibit he created on African American marshals and promoting his book, The Presidents Men: Black United States Marshals in America.
U.S. Marshals are the law enforcement arm of the federal court system. They protect judges, apprehend fugitives, transport prisoners, seize property confiscated by courts, and more.
“The heartburn I get is that the U.S. Justice Department approved the original history book (about the marshals) which left out all of the African Americans,” Moore says. “I don’t quite understand how they could justify that. We were just simply ignored; we weren’t viewed as important.”