April 3, 1882: Jesse James Shot Dead
One of America’s most famous criminals, Jesse James, is shot to death by fellow gang member Robert Ford, who betrayed James for reward money. For 16 years, Jesse and his brother, Frank, committed robberies and murders throughout the Midwest. Detective magazines and pulp novels glamorized the James gang, turning them into mythical Robin Hoods who were driven to crime by unethical landowners and bankers. In reality, Jesse James was a ruthless killer who stole only for himself.
His tombstone reads, “Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days, Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.” (history.com)
Photos: (L) Portrait of Jesse Woodson James by Apic/Getty (R) Corpse of Jesse James on display, photo by R. Uhlman/Corbis