21
Aug
08

On This Day, 8-21-2008: Frank James

Trial of Frank James begins in Missouri

The trial of Frank James begins in Gallatin, Missouri. It was held in the city opera house in order to accommodate the crowds of spectators.

After having robbed dozens of banks and trains over nearly two decades, Frank James finally turned himself in October 1882. Discouraged by the murder of his brother Jesse the previous spring, Frank feared it was only a matter of time before someone also shot him in the back for reward money. He decided to try his chances with the courts, hoping that his considerably public popularity would win him a short sentence.

Frank’s trial went even better than he had hoped. Although Frank and Jesse James and their gang of desperados had killed many people, the majority of Missourians saw them as heroes who took money from ruthless bank and railroad companies and redistributed it to the poor. The state prosecutor had a difficult time finding jurors who were not prejudiced in Frank’s favor. Looking at the panel of potential jurors, he concluded, “The verdict of the jury that is being selected is already written.”

After the trial began, several prominent witnesses testified to Frank’s character. General Joseph O. Shelby, who had known him during his days as a Civil War guerilla, encouraged the jurors to see Frank James as a defender of the South against corrupt big businesses from the North. When asked to identify Frank in the courtroom, the distinguished general exclaimed: “Where is my old friend and comrade in arms? Ah, there I see him! Allow me, I wish to shake hands with my fellow soldier who fought by my side for Southern rights!”

Rural Missourians were unwilling to convict the legendary Frank James. The jury found him not guilty. The states of Alabama and Missouri tried to convict him twice more, on charges of armed robbery, with no success. In late 1883, Frank James became a free man. He lived quietly for 32 more years. The only shots he ever fired again were from starter pistols at county racetracks, one of the handful of odd jobs he took to earn a living. He died at his family home in Missouri in 1915 at the age of 72.

“Trial of Frank James begins in Missouri.” 2008. The History Channel website. 21 Aug 2008, 10:28 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4619.

 

On This Day

1680 – The Pueblo Indians drove the Spanish out and took possession of Santa Fe, NM.

1878 – The American Bar Association was formed by a group of lawyers, judges and law professors in Saratoga, NY.

1923 – In Kalamazoo, Michigan, an ordinance was passed forbidding dancers from gazing into the eyes of their partner.

1940 – Exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in Mexico City from wounds that had inflicted by an assassin.

1943 – Japan evacuated the Aleutian island of Kiaska. Kiaska had been the last North American foothold held by the Japanese.

1945 – U.S. President Truman ended the Lend-Lease program that had shipped about $50 billion in aid to America’s Allies during World War II.

1959 – Hawaii became the 50th state. U.S. President Eisenhower also issued the order for the 50 star flag.

1963 – In South Vietnam, martial law was declared. Army troops and police began to crackdown on the Buddhist anti-government protesters.

1971 – Laura Baugh, at the age of 16, won the United States Women’s Amateur Golf tournament. She was the youngest winner in the history of the tournament.

1984 – Victoria Roche, a reserve outfielder, became the first girl to ever compete in a Little League World Series game.

1989 – Voyager 2, a U.S. space probe, got close to the Neptune moon called Tritan.

1992 – Randall Weaver, a neo-Nazi leader, opened fire on U.S. marshals from his home in Idaho. Weaver surrendered 11 days later ending the standoff. During the standoff a deputy marshal, Weaver’s wife and his son were killed.

1996 – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was signed by U.S. President Clinton. The act made it easier to obtain and keep health insurance.

1997 – Afghanistan suspended its embassy operations in the United States.

1998 – Samuel Bowers, a 73-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader, was convicted in Hattiesburg, MS, of ordering a firebombing that killed civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer in 1966.

 

 

Slave revolt erupts in Virginia

Believing himself chosen by God to lead his people out of slavery, Nat Turner launches a bloody slave insurrection in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner, a slave and educated minister, planned to capture the county armory at Jerusalem, Virginia, and then march 30 miles to Dismal Swamp, where his rebels would be able to elude their pursuers. With seven followers, he slaughtered Joseph Travis, his slave owner, and Travis’ family, and then set off across the countryside, hoping to rally hundreds of slaves to his insurrection en route to Jerusalem.

During the next two days and nights, Turner and 75 followers rampaged through Southampton County, killing about 60 whites. Local whites resisted the rebels, and then the state militia–consisting of some 3,000 men–crushed the rebellion. Only a few miles from Jerusalem, Turner and all his followers were dispersed, captured, or killed. In the aftermath of the rebellion, scores of African Americans were lynched, though many of them were non-participants in the revolt. Turner himself was not captured until the end of October, and after confessing without regret to his role in the bloodshed, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. On November 11, he was hanged in Jerusalem.

Turner’s rebellion was the largest slave revolt in U.S. history and led to a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of slaves.

“Slave revolt erupts in Virginia.” 2008. The History Channel website. 21 Aug 2008, 10:29 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5278.

Sack of Lawrence, Kansas

The vicious guerilla war in Missouri spills over into Kansas and precipitates one of the most appalling acts of violence during the war when 150 men in the abolitionist town of Lawrence are murdered in a raid by Southern partisans.

The Civil War took a very different form in Kansas and Missouri than it did throughout the rest of the nation. There were few regular armies operating there; instead, partisan bands attacked civilians and each other. The roots of conflict in the region dated back to 1854, when the Kansas-Missouri border became ground zero for tension over slavery. While residents of Kansas Territory were trying to decide the issue of slavery, bands from Missouri, a slave state, began attacking abolitionist settlements in the territory. Abolitionists reacted with equal vigor.

“Sack of Lawrence, Kansas.” 2008. The History Channel website. 21 Aug 2008, 10:31 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2290.

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1 Response to “On This Day, 8-21-2008: Frank James”


  1. August 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Nice blog! Keep up the good work.


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