Essay about Jesse James

1545 Words 7 Pages
Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri on the Fifth of September 1847. His parents were Zerelda and Robert James. They were hemp farmers that owned six slaves, but most people wouldn’t know that. They only know him as an outlaw. Nevertheless, the name “Jesse James” is one that almost everyone has heard, even though he has been dead for over one hundred years. (Defeat n. pg.) Now, although Jesse James was a traditional outlaw in many respects, his legend perseveres as an icon of American culture. When the Civil War began, Jesse had to watch his older brother Frank go off to fight for the rebellion. While Frank was away, he got involved with a group of pro-Confederates “who brought the wrath of Union militiamen to the James family. …show more content…
(Defeat n. pg.)
Jesse James made a bank in Gallatin, Missouri as his first target. The man who had killed Bill Anderson, the leader of his old gang, ran this bank. On December 7, 1869, Jesse and Frank rode in during broad daylight, shot an unarmed employee, and left with some worthless paper. They made an escape through the midst of a posse sent to capture them. The brothers later declared that they would never be taken alive. The Gallatin robbery essentially set the pattern for more robberies to come. It was risky, it was daring, and it had a hidden agenda other than simple robbery. In this case it was the killing of the man who had hunted down Jesse's old leader. (Stiles 61)
After that, for the first time ever, the newspapers mentioned Jesse James. He loved the attention. James became involved with an ex-Confederate shortly thereafter. He was also a newspaper editor. His name was John Newman Edwards. Jesse used this to his advantage, making a myth of himself as almost a hero of the South. His myth was very similar to that of Robin Hood. In his case, he was a hero who helped poor Missourians that were hurt by radical Republicans. In letters that Edwards published, Jesse would claim innocence for specific crimes. “We are not thieves,” he wrote, “we are bold robbers. I am proud of the name, for Alexander the Great was a bold robber, and Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte.”(Death n. pg.)
Not long after, Jesse James began to commit more robberies in a way that
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