The Great Jesse James Raid (1953)

Thanks to the continuing resentment in the South after the Civil War, James was hailed not as a common criminal but as a symbol of indomitable South’s-gonna-rise-again spirit and a frontier “Robin Hood,” even though he always left out that “give to the poor” part after robbing the rich. Dime novels filled with fanciful versions of his exploits were popular even when he was still alive, and upon his death he became the subject of a full-fledged martyr’s mythology. Jesse James the murderous bank robber had become in the public mind Jesse James the champion of the oppressed and symbol of the fading frontier. America wouldn’t mythologize its contemporary criminal element to the same degree until the days of Bonnie and Clyde.



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