History

Offbeat Oregon History: Murderer learned ‘Unwritten Law’ doesn’t cover brother-in-laws

This panoramic lithograph shows the city of Portland as it appeared around the time of John W. Murray's shotgun murder of his brother-in-law. It was published in an 1888 edition of The West Shore magazine. IMAGE PROVIDED/UO LIBRARIES

The late 1880s in Oregon, and around the country, saw a substantial rise in the number of murderers who tried to invoke the ”Unwritten Law” to justify their crimes.
The ”Unwritten Law” is the idea that if a man (yes, man; the ”law” didn't apply to women . . .

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