Jesse and Frank James are two of the more enduring figures in American history. There seem to be two opposing views concerning their legacy. One camps seeks to portray them as vicious killers and one camp favors the Robin Hood concept. This is well highlighted by two movies, American Outlaws, (probably more factually correct) and Jesse James starring Brad Pitt which I consider absolute fluff. Of course American Outlaws is not absolutely factually correct to be sure as it indicated that Jesses’ mother was killed by the Pinkerton gang. It was his 8 year old brother who was killed and his mother had her arm blown off. This was done using explosives from an Army arsenal by the way. American Outlaws does however present a more factional account in my opinion.
We are told by a plethora of historians there is no proof the James gang actually distributed money to the farmers whose land was being expropriated by the railroad robber barons and bankers so ipso facto they could not be modern day Robin Hoods. Well there is also no proof they did not do this either and certainly if it were the case, the newspapers would not carry blaring headlines announcing it. One lesson we can take from all this is the bankers were no Robin Hoods either, using the power of the courts to steal land. We know this to be a fact!
At about the age of 12, Jesse James is quoted as saying violence is everywhere and he had to arm himself for his own protection. His natural father died in a mining camp in California. When Jesse was trying to surrender he was shot in the chest by a unionist called Heisinger. He later watched his step father hanged causing brain damage. Jesse was severely beaten and his mother was also abused because they refuse to reveal the whereabouts of Frank James. This mind you is taking place in a background of the railroads absorbing farms in the area for pennies on the dollar. This is about the point where Jesse announced he would join Quantrell’s raiders.
Later as mentioned his mother’s farm was blown up killing his step brother and she lost an arm in the process. There were many Pinkerton men all over the area. (contract killers from Chicago) The union army later banished the James’ from their own property. Now why would anybody get upset over all this?
We know Jesse joined Quantrell’s raiders. His half sister, Fannie Quantrell was related to him. Young girls and women who were related to Quantrell’s raiders were placed in a jail which collapsed as they were considered spies and there was strong belief the jail may have been made to collapse.
Pinkerton hailed from the U.K. and became known as “The Eye”. (all seeing eye?) The motto was (we never sleep). Pinkerton devised a system of photographing horses. The James family were known breeders of horses. Pinkerton had long ago declared vengeance on those who espoused the confederate cause. He also infiltrated West Virginia coal miners as they were excellent strike breakers. Pinkerton eventually employed more detectives than the standing army of the Americas. He always denied bombing the James family. If they indeed used explosives from an Army arsenal, is shows a glaring disrespect for the Posse Comitatus Act.
It is also alleged the James family owned slaves. Approximately 6 black Americans worked on the farm however the children slept in the same house with the James children and the family is said to have established an orphanage for black children. This does not square up with the Hollywood image of genocide under the hot sun as regards to anything with a southern connotation. The James family were also hemp farmers, another enterprise not very well looked upon by the corporate structure.
There is some evidence that Jesse James was not shot in the back as portrayed by so called historians as his own mother indicated the body was not of her son. News reports at the time revealed he had been killed more times than bin laden. His brother Frank always maintained he would allow people to meet Jesse if he were not in shooting distance, so there is probably some truth to the fact that he was in Tennessee as the movie “American Outlaws” starring Colin Farrell, suggests. Some say Jesse James enjoyed a wild west show in Texas which portrayed a Jesse James impostor and immensely enjoyed it!
So what is the real truth? Frank and Jesse James took aim at what they felt were the obvious of targets in the area who had destroyed their homes and family. Who are the real vicious killers here?
It just occurred to me, the Island of Greek Cypriot should erect a statue of Jesses James. Hail him as the equal of Alexander and Apollo. He demonstrated you cannot rob a robber.
Yarns can seemingly become very twisted as in the case of Red Kelly when one is on the radar of what we call The Queen’s Men!