Shootout at the OK Corral



The assignment for this project (from the 664 syllabus):

Think about the question stated below:

In the gunfight at the OK Corral, who were the "bad" guys?

  1. Learn something that will help YOU answer that question
  2. Keep track of how you arrive at an answer/opinion/understanding and the resources you use.
  3. Schedule a time to meet in Tapped-In with at least 4 classmates (4-5 groups should probably be formed, but part of this process involves YOU organizing yourself to get the work done.)
  4. Try to arrive at a consensus within your group arguing your group's collective response to the question posed.
  5. Develop a paragraph or two arguing your group's decision
  6. Email that paragraph to me, along with the names of your team when you are finished.
  7. Wait until Tuesday November 13th to post your transcript and persuasive paragraph (I want to avoid polluting the work of another group)

My strategy—too many sources will confuse the issue, so the strategy is to take a few sources, based on searches on the OK Corral and Wyatt Earp, and see what shows up. I keep recalling my history teacher in college who said that most of what we know about Earp came from Earp himself, so we need to get information from the other side. A search of came up with somewhat informative sources of:

Wyatt Earp historical homepage
Wyatt Earp: OK Corral
Tombstone Nugget (newspaper) and other document archives
These are archives of the newspaper stories and other official documents from the inquest, which includes eyewitness testimony of Earp, Ike Clanton, and the Sheriff. The eyewitness testimony is most illuminating.
Epitaph, THE STATEMENT OF WYATT EARP, Nov. 17, 1881
Gunfight at the OK Corral
Printmaster Web Page

In summary, the shootout took place, not in the OK Corral, but in a closed-off alley about 300 feet away.

My view: Actually, there were no "bad" guys, or both parties were "bad" guys. However, it seems, based on the Sheriff's testimony, that the Earp crowd fired first, even though some of the others said they were not armed. (And they were not, as the sheriff had found). In that instance, the Earp crowd would be the "bad" guys. However, based on previous experiences, there was bad blood between the two exacerbated by both sides. This is one of these cases that has so much conflicting testimony that a clear judgment is not possible.

The shootout at the OK corral could be seen as an "accident" that didn't have to happen, but the Earp group appeared to fire first at a gang that was only partially armed. However, with the bad blood on both sides, they both contributed.

Our final page for the group, done by Amy Murphy, is She was kind enough to grant me permission to use the story so I've modified it to fit this site and posted it as The Rockhopper Posse. (If you know any of us, you will recognize us through our aliases!)



Created Fall, 2001

Last maintained 11/15/2003


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