Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Billy the Kid-Wallace Pardon Info

December 30, 2010

It never ceases to amaze me that new historical finds show up at this late date. Well, Mark Gardner has discovered an interview with Lew Wallace in May of 1881 that is quite astounding. For one thing, the Kid is at large (he escaped hanging in April of 1881) and hasn't been tracked down yet so Wallace's comments have the added value of breaking news.

In terms of Wallace promising the Kid a pardon, the governor gives a pretty clear opinion on why he doesn't think he needs to honor that. It's also fascinating that the Boys (Dolan, Evans, etc.) evidently threatened to literally spank Wallace and he spends some time telling how he avoided that punishment.

Here is the link to the article:

After reading it I told Mark Gardner I thought it really puts the pardon in perspective, at least from Wallace's point of view. Here's Mark's response:

Hi, BBB. Yes, this article offers ammunition for both sides. There is the use of the P-bomb, but there's also that all-important "providing he also led a different life." You're absolutely right, though, this is Wallace's side of the story. It's clear from Billy's correspondence and his quote in the Mesilla Times that he felt he had lived up to his side of the deal.

But there's other neat items. Did you notice that it says Wallace sent word to the Kid through his attorney? I'm guessing that's Leonard, and it explains why we don't have a written response from Wallace. That makes sense. Also, Wallace says that Billy is 21 and that he spent "some years" in Indianapolis. I believe that may be the first published reference to the Kid having grown up in Indianapolis. Wallace, of course, was from Indianapolis as well. That was something they had in common and I'll bet they chatted about it. It's something Wallace would have remembered. That makes sense, too.

I was ribbing you a little about being a Billy hater, but those quotes in The Wall Street Journal seem to be pretty telling, I think.



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