Jesse James Research Paper

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During the Civil War, Missouri was a state divided not only by the Mason-Dixon Line but also by the population’s differing views on the morality of slavery and what side of the war the state was on. From this ambiguous and tenuous situation arose Jesse James – outlaw, murderer, bank robber, and folk hero. Because of the politics during Reconstruction, a figure such as Jesse James, with his personal history, was the perfect character to play both a perpetrator and a victim of his time. During the Reconstruction period of the 19th Century the wounds of the Civil War were still fresh among the residents of Missouri. Because Missouri was a “slave state” that did not secede from the Union, many of the residents had a deeply divided view of the…show more content…
After the death of “Bloody Bill” James would fill the role of the avenger of not only “Bloody Bill” but also of what he thought to be the victimization of the Confederacy by the Union government. His role as the avenger was parlayed into his role as a noble brigand almost immediately after the death of Bill Anderson. As the James brothers began their careers as robbers the first bank they robbed was chosen because it was believed the man who killed Bill Anderson was a teller there. When the teller was killed and revealed to have been innocent in the killing of Anderson, James began to be viewed as a thief and murderer by some of the public. As a result, Jesse is believed to have written a letter to the Governor pleading his innocence; calling on the Governor to understand that as a bushwhacker he would not be allowed a fair trial and the bank robbery as a false accusation aimed at bringing James to justice for the deeds of his past. He brings up cases of other bushwhackers who were charged of robbing banks and immediately being “mobbed and

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