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    Jesse James: A Remarkable Handwritten Document by Which the City Council of Kansas City Sends its Congratulations and Pledge of Support to Governor Crittenden. Issued in April 1882 on the Heels of Jesse's Assassination. We reproduce the text of this recognition of Crittenden's decision to take the bold steps "necessary...to extinguish the last vestige of Brigandage [sic] in Missouri" in its entirety:

    "Resolved by the Common Council of the City of Kansas

    "That we cordially and heartily endorse and thank Governor Crittenden, Commissioner Craig and Sheriff Timberlake for breaking up and so nearly destroying the notorious Jesse James Band of outlaws and we hereby pledge to the officers named our individual and united support in the future in any further steps they may find it necessary to take to extinguish the last vestige of Brigandage in Missouri.

    "A true copy of Resolution Introduced by Alderman S.M. Ford of the 5th Ward and adopted by the Common Council of the City of Kansas. Apr 28th 1882.

    "Attest H.P. Langworthy/ City Clerk"

    In his election campaign and inaugural address, Gov. Thomas Crittenden had all but promised the eradication of the notorious gang. However, this would prove easier said than done, as the Jameses still enjoyed widespread popular support in Missouri. Efforts to capture them proved fruitless and there was real apprehension that even if the James Boys were to be apprehended, it would be hard to find a jury that would convict them (a concern which proved prescient when prosecutors later failed utterly to secure a conviction of Frank James for any crimes).

    Accordingly, Crittenden, legally proscribed from offering a large enough reward on behalf of the state, turned to the railroad and express companies to place a bounty of $5,000 on the James' heads. He then undertook a negotiation with junior gang member Bob Ford, who would shoot Jesse in the back of the head on April 3, 1882, and promptly claim his reward. Such was the public outrage at the deed in St. Joseph that Ford and his brother were in a single day indicted for first degree murder, tried, and sentenced to death by hanging. However, within two hours Gov. Crittenden had issued a full pardon to the boys. This speedy response is strong circumstantial evidence that Crittenden had advance knowledge of Ford's plans, and had in essence given the "green light" for the assassination.

    The process of disintegration which began with the Northfield Raid was completed by the killing of Jesse James, and one of Western history's most notorious epochs was drawing to a close. However, there was still tremendous sympathy for the James Boys around the state. This resolution from Kansas City must be viewed in that light. This is not merely a pro-forma resolution for which bodies such as city councils are well-known, but rather an important expression of support which was badly needed by the governor, and which could have been seen as placing the signers in real danger from James partisans.

    The Kansas City document, bearing the City Council's official seal, is in very good condition, with only minor light aging, and is framed as it has been for some decades. A pencil notation on the back of the frame states that it came "From the estate of Antoinette Hardwicke, Claude Hardwicke - grand nephew of Josiah Gregg (Josiah Gregg, 1806-1850, was raised in Howard County, MO, and became an early import trader and explorer of the West). The document itself measures 7.5" x 10.875", framed to an overall size of 13" x 16.5".


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    22nd-23rd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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