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Analyze an event or issue from American history since World War II - Essay Example

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Introduction Although there have been perhaps bigger tragedies in the recent history of the United States, one of the most interesting and shocking is that of the Waco siege in 1993. In an attack, and subsequently deadly fire, 76 people died at the home of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas…
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Analyze an event or issue from American history since World War II
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Download file to see previous pages The purpose of this paper is to explore the incident using primary sources as a way of identifying the incident from the perspective of those contemporary to the siege. Primary sources can be useful to historians as they can limit the amount of bias found when relying on secondary texts or unreliable historical sources. Whilst analyzing the events of the Waco siege, this paper will therefore examine the primary sources pertinent to the event to show the importance of primary sources, especially for recent historical events. Overview of Events On May 3, 1993, David Koresh was on the cover of Time Magazine (Time, 1993). The reason for this is that he was the leader of a religious organization known as the Branch Davidians, who self-identified as a Christian group linked to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although the group itself gained some interest in the early 1950s (Reavis, 1998), a series of leadership changes had meant that Koresh himself was now in charge of the group. The organization itself mainly centered around a compound-style property in Waco, Texas (Reavis, 1998), which had little contact with the outside world except for daily activities (Reavis, 1998). This compound, known as the Mount Carmel Center, was to be the stage for the events of the Waco siege. As with many new religions, as the Branch Davidians grew in size there was increasing media interest in the group (Reavis, 1998). Additionally, the leader David Koresh had been investigated by some news articles which accused him of physical abuse and statutory rape (Reavis, 1998), which lead to yet more media interest in the group and their leader. Many sources also suggest that Koresh advocated polygamy and therefore was breaking the law of Texas at the time, despite his religious beliefs (Reavis, 1998). Despite these various crimes, the real interest of the event to the police was the potential that Koresh and his followers were stockpiling illegal weapons, hence the involvement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). Several pieces of evidence suggested that this was the case, meaning that Koresh had violated federal law and arrest and search warrants could be placed on various members of the group by the FBI. This search warrant led the ATF to instigate a search of the compound to find these illegal weapons, only to result in gunfire that left ten people dead (Reavis, 1998). After this moment, the FBI began to get more heavily involved due to the failure of the ATS to complete their siege. Although the decision was made to seriously investigate the compound, there was a stand-off between Branch Davidians and the FBI that lasted 51 days in total. After increasing tensions, the FBI launched a tear gas attack on the compound, only to result in a fire that was later declared to have been started by the Branch Davidians themselves. The Branch Davidians: Oh, My God, They're Killing Themselves! Some of the most interesting and useful sources for learning about the Waco siege are primary sources written at the time of the event, many of which are online and easily accessed. One of these is an article written for Time magazine, published on May 3rd 1993, shortly after the events that killed the Branch Davidians. The article itself is extremely descriptive about the events of the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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