Jesse James


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Jesse James
Jesse Woodson James
Birthday
BirthplaceKearney, Missouri, U.S.
Died
NationalityAmerican
Occupation
Criminal
Known for Robbery

James, Jesse (Woodson),

1847–82, American outlaw, b. Clay co., Mo. At the age of 15 he joined the Confederate guerrilla band led by William QuantrillQuantrill, William Clarke
, 1837–65, Confederate guerrilla leader, b. Canal Dover (now Dover), Ohio. In the Civil War his band of guerrillas was active in Missouri and Kansas. He was given the rank of captain in the Confederate army. On Aug.
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 and participated in the brutal and bloody civil warfare in Kansas and Missouri. In 1866, Jesse and his brother Frank became the leaders of a band of outlaws whose trail of robberies and murders led through most of the central states. At first they robbed only banks, but in 1873 they began to rob trains. The beginning of their downfall came in 1876 when, after killing two people and failing to secure any money in an attempted bank robbery at Northfield, Minn., they lost several members of the gang, including the Younger brothers, three of their most trusted followers, who were captured and imprisoned (see Younger, ColeYounger, Cole
(Thomas Coleman Younger), 1844–1916, American outlaw, b. Jackson co., Mo. After the Civil War he joined the outlaw band of Jesse James, with whom he had served as a Confederate guerrilla under William C. Quantrill.
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). The James brothers escaped and were quiet until 1879, when they robbed another train. The reward offered by Gov. Thomas T. Crittenden of Missouri for the capture of the James brothers, dead or alive, tempted one of the gang, Robert Ford, who caught Jesse (then living under the name of Thomas Howard) off guard and killed him. Frank James surrendered but was twice acquitted and lived out his life peacefully and prosperously on his farm near Excelsior Springs, Mo. The melodramatic style of the exploits of the James gang attracted wide public admiration, giving rise to a number of romanticized legends, the famous song "The Ballad of Jesse James," and much popular literature.

Bibliography

See biographies by R. Love (1926), C. W. Breihan (1953, repr. 1970), and T. J. Stiles (2002); H. Croy, Jesse James Was My Neighbor (1949, repr. 1962); J. L. James, Jesse James and the Lost Cause (1961); W. A. Settle, Jesse James Was His Name (1966); M. L. Gardner, Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, the Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape (2013).

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James, Jesse

(1847–1882) romanticized train and bank robber. [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 219]

James, Jesse

(1847–1882) American outlaw of the Wild West. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1395]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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