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June 8, 2017

1870 Jesse W. James Writes About Vigilante Hanging In Warrensburg MO

wanted poster 1881
Jesse James
The Liberty Tribune, June 24, 1870
Governor McClurg:
DEAR SIR: I and my brother Frank are charged with the crime of killing the cashier and robbing the bank at Gallatin, Mo., Dec. 7th, 1869. I can prove, by some of the best men in Missouri, where I was the day of the robbery and the day previous to it, but I well know if I was to submit to an arrest, that I would be mobbed and hanged without a trial. The past is sufficient to show that bushwhackers have been arrested in Missouri since the war, charged with bank robbery, and they most all have been mobbed without trials. I will cite you the case of Thomas Little, of Lafayette county, Mo. A few days after the bank was robbed at Richmond, in 1867, Mr. Little was charged with being one of the party who perpetrated the deed. He was sent from St. Louis to Warrensburg under a heavy guard. As soon as the parties arrived there, they found out that he (Mr. Little, Tom Little Lynching Story Link) could prove, by the citizens of Dover, that he was innocent of the charge — as soon as these scoundrels found out that he was innocent — a mob was raised, broke in the jail, took him out and hanged him.
Governor, when I think I can get a fair trial, I will surrender myself to the civil authorities of Missouri. But I never will surrender to be mobbed by a set of bloodthirsty poltroons. It is true that during the war I was a Confederate soldier, and fought under the black flag, but since then I have lived a peaceable citizen, and obeyed the laws of the United States to the best of my knowledge. The authorities of Gallatin say the reason that led them to suspect me was that the mare left at Gallatin, by the robbers, was identified as belonging to me. That is false. I can prove that I sold the mare previous to the robbery. It is true that I fought Deputy Sheriff Thomason, of Clay county, but was not my brother with me when we had the fight. I do not think that I violated the law when I fought Thomason as his posse refused to tell me who they were.
Three different statements have been published in reference to the fight that I had with Thomason, but they are all a pack of falsehoods. Deputy Sheriff Thomason has never yet given any report of the fight, that I have seen. I am personally acquainted with Oscar Thomason, the Deputy’s son, but when the shooting began, his face was so muffled up with furs that I did not recognize him. But if I did violate the law when I fought Thomason I am perfectly willing to abide by it.

But as to them mobbing me for a crime that I am innocent of, that is played out. As soon as I think I can get a just trial I will surrender myself to the civil authorities of Missouri, and prove to the world that I am innocent of the crime charged against me.Respectfully,Jesse W. James

Jesse James: Death of a Wild West Outlaw
Outlaw Jesse James was murdered in his Missouri home by fellow gang member Robert Ford on this day in 1882

Jesse James was no hero, despite what the dime novels depicted, nor did he have a charitable Robin Hood complex as some may have suggested. James, along with his younger brother Frank, were out to get rich by breaking all the rules. The brothers were Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War and for 10 years (1866-1876) led a gang that infamously robbed banks and murdered throughout the Midwest.  But on April 3, 1882 Jesse James' robbing and killing spree would come to an end. Hungry for notoriety and the $10,000 reward money promised to him by Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden (From Warrensburg, MO.), fellow gang member Robert Ford decided to betray and murder James in cold blood.
Gov. Thos. T. Crittenden, Missouri Governor from Warensburg Issues a Proclamation - Wanted Dead or Alive Frank and Jesse W. James. 1881

Agreeing to do one last bank heist with James, Robert and his brother Charley had gone over to James' house to discuss logistics. While reading the newspaper, James learned that one of their fellow gang members (and Ford's friend), Dick Liddil, confessed to helping kill Wood Hite, who was James' cousin. (It was Ford who actually shot Hite.) Surprised that the Ford Brothers hadn't mentioned the matter, James became suspicious of them but didn't say a word. Instead, he walked over to the living room and began cleaning a dusty picture on the wall. As legend has it, it was then that Robert Ford cocked his pistol and shot James in the back of the head.

Jesse James was dead at the age of 34. As secretly promised to the Ford Brothers, Governor Crittenden immediately pardoned them for the murder of James, but the swiftness of the pardon were bad optics for them, and the two fled Missouri despite only receiving a small portion of the prize money.
Missouri Governor Thomas T. Crittenden
Law partnership with Sen. Francis Marion Cockrell in Warrensburg.
Charley eventually committed suicide in 1884, but as for Robert — some might say his demise was karmic. After hopscotching from town to town, Ford opened up a saloon in Creede, Colorado. In June 1892 a man named Edward O'Kelley walked into his saloon, offered him a quick greeting ("Hello, Bob"), and then shot him dead with a sawed off shotgun. Ford died instantly. Jesse James' grave site is located in Kearney, Missouri. His mother had the following epitaph inscribed for him: "In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here."
Gov. Thomas T. Crittenden - Warrensburg
Crittenden Bio - Shortly following Crittenden's marriage, the family moved to Lexington, Missouri, where he started a law practice. During the American Civil War Crittenden was appointed a Colonel in the 7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry, fighting on the Union side. Governor Willard Preble Hall appointed Crittenden to the post of Missouri Attorney General in 1864.

Following his term, Crittenden moved his law practice to Warrensburg, Missouri in partnership with Francis Cockrell. Crittenden was elected to the United States House of Representatives for the 7th Congressional District in 1872 and again in 1876.In 1880, he helped to found the Missouri Bar Association.

Crittenden was elected Governor of Missouri in the 1880 election. As governor, Crittenden wanted to suppress the robberies and violence committed by the James Gang. He authorized a reward of $5,000 (which was paid for by railroad corporations) for the capture of Jesse James and also for his brother Frank, dead or alive, which resulted in Robert Ford (Rob Ford's Gravesite Link - Richmond, MO) killing Jesse in 1882. Following Ford's conviction for the murder, Crittenden pardoned him. On October 5, 1882, Frank James surrendered in Jefferson City.
Frank James circa 1865

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