The American Experience: Jesse James
Tuesday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m.
Find out why the story of Jesse James is more fiction than fact.
A product of the American Civil War, James was less heroic than brutal; America's own Robin Hood who robbed not only the rich, but the poor and defenseless as well, always saving the treasure for himself.
James was a member of a vicious band of Missouri guerrillas during the Civil War. For nearly two decades, Jesse James, heartless thief and cold-blooded murderer, pushed ahead with his outlaw career. His gang would be reconfigured multiple times, compensating for members who were lost to death or simply to lack of interest in the outlaw lifestyle.
And Jesse never gave up the fight and never abandoned his desire for fame. And while his image as a benevolent thief won him many fans, the true story of his vicious career put a price on his head. Threats came from all sides. Tired of having their safes emptied, the railroad companies hired a detective agency to hunt down the James boys.
Finally, in 1882, a $10,000 bounty was too much for fellow gang member Bob Ford to resist. He assassinated James in a fitting manner — Jesse was unarmed, and shot from behind.