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    Cole Younger: Great Twice-Signed Handwritten Letter from This Notorious Outlaw. Younger began his crime spree during the Civil War as a member, along with the James Brothers, of the notorious Quantrill's Raiders. After the war, he may have been associated with the gang of Archie Clement, who led the first daylight peacetime armed bank robbery in U.S. history on February 13, 1866. While the exact date of his association with the gang is uncertain, by 1868 Younger and his brothers, as well as the James Brothers, were unquestionably part of the bank-robbing gang. The Jameses and Youngers were able to avoid arrest longer than many outlaws of the day, largely thanks to the sympathy and support of many of their fellow Confederate veterans.

    But in 1876 the Youngers' luck ran out. Their attempted robbery of the bank at Northfield, Minnesota went famously awry when armed townsfolk interrupted the robbery and chased them off. In the melee two townspeople were killed, and when the Youngers were subsequently captured, they were tried and sentenced to life imprisonment at Stillwater prison in Minnesota (a guilty plea saved them from the hangman's noose). Bob Younger died in prison in 1889; however Cole and Jim continued to languish in prison, while sympathizers periodically lobbied for their release. In 1899 a bill was before the Minnesota Legislature to secure their freedom. One of the bill's supporters was State Senator Michael J. Daly. In the March 26, 1899, letter offered here, Younger writes effusively to thank Daly for a well-received speech he made in the Senate in support of the bill. "They said everone [sic] said it was one of the best speeches made in the Senate during the session. Let me assure you there will never be any act of ours in or out of prison that will cause you to regrette [sic] having extended a helping hand to us in this our hour of distress...." Younger goes on to praise Senator Wilson, who authored the bill, calling down upon him God's blessings.

    Despite the best efforts of their supporters, the Youngers would not be pardoned until July 1901. However, the bond forged between Daly and Cole Younger was lasting, and upon his release Younger made a widely publicized visit to the Senator's home in Perham, Minnesota (pictured). In a 1977 letter (which accompanies this lot), the senator's then quite elderly son, M.J. Daly, writes of the visit. He says that Younger, whom he had previously visited in prison along with his father, stayed at their home for several days, and brought a baby doll for his sister. The visit attracted wide attention, and a carnival atmosphere ensued. It is interesting to note the treatment of this longtime violent and ruthless outlaw as a celebrity. As they say, time heals all wounds.

    The letter offered here is in excellent condition, with only a couple of very minor partial separations along fold lines near the edges. A large, bold Cole Younger signature appears on each side, the second added to a postscript. It is accompanied by the original mailing envelope, addressed to Senator Daly in Younger's hand and bearing the return address and postmark of Stillwater (a tear in the front of the envelope was mended years ago with Scotch tape). An important offering of a rare Western autograph. 7.5" x 12.25".

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Nov-Dec, 2011
    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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