Was Jesse James a hero or a terrible killer? Some believe he robbed the rich to give to the poor. He was sometimes kind, dressed well and was charming. He was also a killer, a thief and a terrorist.
Jesse James’s parents， Robert and Zee, built a log cabin in the wilds of Missouri, USA and soon extended it into a farm. Robert became the pastor at a small Baptist Church nearby and he and his wife had four children, one of whom died. Jesse was the third, born in September 1847.
In 1850 the Rev. James was asked to join a wagon train going west to California in search of gold. He wanted to preach to all the gold miners there. Unfortunately, shortly after arriving he caught a fever and never recovered. His wife, Zee, had to look after the farm and three young children on her own.
The State of Missouri where they lived was split in two by the American Civil War, half its population supporting the Union and half supporting the Confederacy. Jesse’s elder brother, Frank, became part of a murderous group of outlaws who fought against the Union. They set fire to whole towns and killed innocent people. Jesse at the age of 15 was questioned and whipped by the Union soldiers after one of these attacks. Once he grew up, he joined the fight against the Union, robbing trains and killing the passengers.
After the Civil War Jesse and his brother Frank continued to be outlaws, collecting $62,000 in their first bank raid. Soon they were blamed for every bank raid in California. Eventually Jesse agreed to settle down after their last raid. While discussing the details of the raid with his gang, one of them shot him, hoping to collect a reward of $10,000. That was the end of Jesse James’s life of crime.
give （to）v. 捐助
log cabin n. 原木小木屋
pastor n. （基督教的）本堂牧师
the Rev.（Reverend）n. （牧师）大人
preach v. 讲道
the Confederacy 美国南部邦联
outlaw n. 逃犯，歹徒
innocent adj. 无辜的
raid n. 抢劫
crime n. 犯罪