Jesse James by: Quinton Everett

jesse

Quinton Everett

10/27/15

The Myths about Jesse James

There are many people and events in history that shaped the image of the American West. From many events that took place such as the Gold Rush to the many people who may have done positive or negative things to become part of the image of the American West. Jesse James is one particular person who stand out to me the most about the actions he took while living in the American West.

Jesse James to many people was known as the Robin Hood of the American West because it was said that he rob the rich of their money and gave it to the poor people. When I first heard of this action taken by Jesse James, I was astounded because it takes a lot of courage to rob rich and wealthy people for their money in order to provide the poor with money in order to take care of themselves. As I started to do a little more research about Jesse James I started to see that maybe his Robin Hood actions were just made up fables in order to justify his actions and to make him seem like a hero or a legend.  John Newman Edwards, befriended Jesse and went on to promote the former bushwhacker as a hero and defiant Southern patriot of the Reconstruction era. James himself wrote letters to newspapers in which he defended his actions. Through his articles and editorials, Edwards was responsible for helping to create the image of Jesse James as a Robin Hood figure who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

To me Jesse James was an outlaw who didn’t have respect for authority and did whatever it took to put himself into the media in order to make himself seem fierce. For him to be compared to Robin Hood is a huge mistake by some historians. Robin Hood robbed the rich in order to supply the poor and was later killed by a traitor. Jesse James was someone who robbed any and every one in order to become rich faster. He also tricked many ex-confederate people into thinking that the robbing and killing of people was ok because he was doing it for them. Many of the ex-confederate people bought into this lie and became allies of Jesse and his gang and help them accomplish many of their crimes.

The reason behind why Jesse James and his brother Frank James became outlaws were also another myth about the history of the James brothers. It was said that the James brothers became outlaws because they were upset that the railroads were taking land not only from them but from their neighbors as well. So, in order to get revenge on the railroads and the people involved in taking away their land they robbed trains and banks. In reality, the reason the James brothers decided to become outlaws was because of the civil war. They were upset about the results of the Civil War so they decided to rob those who were in control as a way to fight back and send a message.

Another myth that stood out to me is the fact that Jesse James mother was killed by federal agents. It was said that Pinkerton and some of his agents killed Jesse James’ mother when they threw several flares into the house of Jesse’s mother in order to flush out Jesse and Frank James who they thought was in the house at the time. That myth was totally incorrect in fact after doing tons of research Jesse’s mother only suffered a lost arm do to the explosion of the flares thrown into the house by Pinkerton and his agents. Also, Jesse’s mother was alive long enough to profit from the grave of Jesse James which she had buried in her front yard.

On April 3rd, 1862 Jesse James was said to be dead. There were many speculations that Jesse was pronounced dead. This speculations does not make sense and has many holes in the story. There are many reports saying Jesse was betrayed by Bob Ford while he was hanging a picture on the wall. This event  about how Jesse James died sound a bit more realistic to me. Bob Ford along with his brother Charlie Ford were new recruits of Jesse in order to protect him. Before being hired by Jesse, Bob Ford had arranged with the governor of Missouri to take down Jesse in exchange for an award.

On April 3rd, 1862, Jesse James was pronounced dead. There are speculations that Jesse James faked his death and went on to live his life with a different name, and family. This speculations does not make sense and has many holes into the story. There are many reports saying that Jesse was betrayed by Bob Ford while he was hanging a picture on the wall. This event about how Jesse James died sound a bit more realistic to me. Bob Ford along with his brother Charlie Ford were new recruits of Jesse in order to protect him. Before being hired by Jesse Bob Ford had arranged with the governor of Missouri to take down Jesse in exchange for an award.

Citations:

http://articles.latimes.com/2001/aug/25/entertainment/ca-38078

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9q6Z8GKVMA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsZETRemWnY

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/jamesedwards

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