ping and became one of the last of the mountain men. Accusedrnof poaching and bullied by the government agents whorncame to drag him off to jail, he shot and killed one of them andrnevaded capture for months. Even after his arrest and conviction,rnClaude Dallas escaped from prison, and with the help ofrnpeople who must ha’e known he was a killer, he remained atrnlarge for a considerable time. In some parts of the West he wasrna folk hero, not because he killed a man, but because—unlikernthe rest of us—he was free.rn”Our heroes have always been cowboys,” sang Willie Nelson,rnbut not just cowboys; drifters and gamblers, hunters and mountainrnmen, rustlers and vigilantes; unsociable loners from thernreal Daniel Boone, who hated the sight of a neighbor’s chimneyrnsmoke, to the fictional Huck Finn who lit out for the territories.rnAmerican history is a long parade of desperadoes and outlaws,rngoing back to the first American hero. Captain John Smith. Onrnthe way to Jamestown, Smith so antagonized the leaders of thernexpedition that they tried to hang him, and once arrived in Virginia,rnthe former mercenary succeeded in seizing power and inrndefiance of the proprietors abolished communism and savedrnthe settlement. Smith was the first American to make thernchoice: live free or die.rnFrom Smith to the present, there has hardly been a generationrnof Americans in which there were not tough and resoluternmen willing to defy the law if it was the only way they could defendrntheir way of life: Jacob Leisler in New York at the time ofrnthe Glorious Revolution; the Carolina Regulators—the firstrnimportant vigilante movement; the militiamen at Lexingtonrnand Concord; the Shaysites and Whiskey rebels in the years afterrnthe Revolution; the filibusters who carved out the state ofrnFranklin, and the drunken brawler, Sam Houston, who went tornlive with the Indians before he led the war for Texas independence.rnMost Yankees like to hear the tales of Mosby, Morgan,rnand Forrest, who risked everything to defend their homelandsrnfrom the plague of blue-jacketed locusts sent to burn theirrnfarms, and even the enigmatic and bloodthirsty ex-Ohioan,rnCaptain Quantrill, has his defenders.rnAfter the war that ended the American Republic, more thanrna few Confederate officers and soldiers headed to Latin America.rnSome like General Joe Shelby took service with Maximilian;rnothers ended up in Brazil, where even today they celebraterntheir Confederate heritage. Along the Kansas-Missouri border,rnwhere the war broke out in the 1850’s, many of Quantrill’s menrnfound it difficult to settle down to the business of everyday life.rnSome of them had been unhinged by the crimes done to theirrnkinfolk by the Kansas Jayhawkers who plundered and burnedrntheir way through Missouri.rnThere is a wild streak in the American character, but outlawsrnare made, not born, at least in Missouri. When war came, thernJayhawkers were backed by the Union Army. Brigadier GeneralrnThomas Ewing decided to round up and intern the femalernrelatives of men thought to be Confederate guerrillas. Taken tornKansas City, many of the women were herded into a dilapidatedrnbuilding that Ewing had been told was unsafe. The buildingrncollapsed, killing four women, and maiming many others.rnInstead of learning humanity from his mistakes, Ewing issuedrnhis famous General Order 11 forcing the immediate evacuationrnof all Missouri families from the border area, where theirrnhomes were pillaged and burned by the Kansas troops. Forrnyears afterward, it was known as the “the Burnt District.”rnIn revenge, Quantrill’s men attacked Lawrence, Kansas, andrnalthough none of them laid a hand on a single woman, they didrncarry out the order to shoot any male old enough to hold a gun.rnFrank James and his cousin. Cole Younger, took part in the raidrnon Lawrence. Cole’s father had been a well-to-do Unionist,rnbut this counted for little, when the Jayhawkers hanged the oldrnman, trying to persuade him to tell where he had hidden hisrnmoney, or when they burned down his widow’s house. FrankrnJames had been captured eady in the war and amnestied, butrnfaced with an order to fight for the North, he joined up withrnQuantrill. His younger brother Jesse came later, after Unionrnmilitiamen tortured his stepfather and mistreated his pregnantrnmother.rnWhen the war was over, the Youngers and Jameses found itrnhard to resume normal life. (The best portrayal of the outlawsrnas resdess youth is Walter Hill’s beautiful film. The Long Riders.)rnIf the stories are true, Jesse was seriously wounded, tryingrnto surrender. During the war years, Quantrill and Bloody BillrnAnderson had taken to robbing Yankee banks as a means of financingrntheir operations, and some of the boys saw no reason tornc|uit practicing a profession they were just getting good at.rnThey even took to robbing trains, a habit frowned upon by thernYankee-owned railroads who hired the Pinkerton DetectivernAgency to track down and kill the outlaws. The detectives didrnnot succeed in getting the James brothers, but they did attackrntheir mother’s house on January 26,1875, huding some kind ofrnincendiary device through the window. The result was anrnexplosion that killed Frank and Jesse’s nine-year-old halfrnbrother and blew off most of their mother’s right hand. Therernwere those at the time who called it murder; some even complainedrnwhen the Governor of Missouri bribed one of Jesse’srnmen to kill him. Living quietly under the name of Howard, thernoutlaw was shot by Robert Ford, “the dirty little coward thatrnshot Mr. Howard and laid poor Jesse in his grave.”rnThere is no doubt that Jesse James was a criminal in everyrnsense of the word, and yet his crimes were condoned or evenrnpraised by ex-confederate Missourians who saw them as an almostrnjustifiable response to the oppressions under which theyrnlabored.rnJoe Shelby, whose life had been saved by Quantrill’s men,rnstood up for his rescuers to the end of his life. Other ex-rnConfederates romanticized them. Writing in the Kansas CityrnTimes (September 27, 1872), John Newman Edwards (thernJames’s first hagiographer) described the men who robbed thernKansas City Fair in 1872 as “three bandits. . . come to us fromrnthe storied Odenwald, with the halo of medieval chivalry uponrntheir garments.”rnThere were no haloes on Frank and Jesse James, but to understandrntheir character and behavior during the long warrnagainst the Yankees—a war that only ended with Frank’s acquittalrnin 1884—requires an historical imagination that is notrnl:ettered by the Victorian prejudices of the 1870’s or the postmodernrnsentimentality of the I990’s. The proper historical andrncultural context for the Jameses and Youngers is not the Kansas-rnMissouri border in 19th-century America so much as the Scottish-rnEnglish border in the age of the ballads—”Fight on, fightrnon, my merrv men all,” cries the outlaw Johnnie Armstrongrnwith his dying breath, and this spirit was if anything even morernferocious in the more purely Celtic areas of Scotland and Ireland.rnThe clansman’s loyalty was to his people rather than tornsomeone so distant as a king, much less to something so impersonalrnas the state. A clan leader like Sodey Boy MacDonnellrndid not view his followers as so much expendable cannon fod-rn10/CHRONICLESrnrnrn