Jesse James: Hero or Villain Research Paper by JVCowboyUp

Jesse James: Hero or Villain
Examines the life of Jesse James, America's most famous outlaw, and considers the question of whether he is an "American Robin Hood" or a common thug.
# 53206 | 3,894 words | 10 sources | APA | 2003 | US
Published on Oct 15, 2004 in History (U.S. After 1865) , History (U.S. Civil War 1860-1865) , History (General)

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This extremely detailed term paper tracks the life of Jesse James from his days in the Civil War as a partisan raider through his life as an outlaw. It discusses the various segments of his career as an outlaw, leader, and gunfighter until his death and analyzes whether his actions should be vindicated or condemned.

From the Paper:

Theodore Roosevelt, in Century Magazine of 1880, was said to have felt that the phenomenon of the western outlaw could only be understood if the absolute wilderness of the plains during the frontier period was taken into account. Jesse James is far and away the most infamous and best-known outlaw in American history. Modern culture, as evidenced by movies such as American Outlaws, depicts Jesse James as an "American Robin Hood": "His yew bow is a Navy Colt; his jerkin a faded blue coat. He never fails to distribute his stolen loot among weeping widows about to lose their homesteads. Old men receive his coat in the freezing cold with tearful thanks. He reduces to a bloody hulk the bully torturing the frail young farmer, recently arrived from the East to till the soil" . Perhaps more credibe individuals take the opposite view, and they write that: "Jesse James was simply a cold-blooded killer and a thief. There is no credible evidence that he ever gave one cent to a widow or anyone else in need, nor did he take up arms to help the weak. For most of his life he was hunted like a wild animal, able to survive only because he and his gang could intimidate weak-spined county officials or count on kissing kinfolk to hide them out" . But who was the real Jesse James? Was he more likely to defend the downtrodden or prey on them? The answer is probably none of the above. Jesse James was no more a murderous thug than he was a defender of poor farmers; he was the product of a brutal and violent Civil War and reconstruction era of American history."

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