No Pardon for Billy the Kid

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has decided not to posthumously pardon Billy the Kid, aka William H. Bonney, aka Henry McCarty, for any of his many crimes. Richardson considered pardoning him because the historical record suggests territorial Governor Lew Wallace may have extended the promise of a pardon in exchange for Billy’s testimony against another murderer. Billy testified but the pardon never materialized. He escaped from jail killing two guards only to be caught again, escape again, then finally shot to death by Lincoln County sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881.

The Wallace and Garrett familys were not pleased that Gov. Richardson was willing to re-examine the question of whether Wallace made a deal with Billy the Kid that he welched on and whether Garrett had shot the wrong man. The descendants of Billy the Kid’s victim Sheriff William J. Brady, killed on April Fool’s Day, 1878, were also offended by the very notion of a pardon.

Sheriff Pat GarrettIn July of this year, Garrett’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren wrote to Mr. Richardson: “If Billy the Kid were living amongst us now, would you issue a pardon for someone who made his living as a thief and, more egregiously, who killed four law enforcement officers and numerous others?”

But history buffs who also happen to be Governor can’t be deterred that easily, especially when they can’t run again because of term limits anyway. Richardson set up a website about the Billy the Kid pardon, soliciting comments on the question from the general public. Out of the 809 emails received, 430 of them favored granting the pardon, 379 were against it.

Overwhelming pro-Bonney numbers notwithstanding, the Governor ultimately decided the evidence was just too inconclusive even for this level of tourism-luring stunt pardoning. After all, even if Lew Wallace did offer Billy the Kid a pardon, he could have been lying to get his testimony. There was never any guarantee, nor is there any formal record of Governor Wallace making any such offer.

Some historians suggest that Mr. Wallace never explicitly offered a pardon to the outlaw, who also went by the names Henry McCarty and William H. Bonney, and might have been trying to trick him. Shortly before Mr. Wallace left office, he told a newspaper: “I can’t see how a fellow like him should expect any clemency from me.”

8 thoughts on “No Pardon for Billy the Kid

    1. I think there’s more to it than just the passage of time. Billy the Kid is an icon of the “lawless West” mythos. There were many other murderers who did their business while Billy was doing is, but we don’t remember them at all today, never mind lionize them.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply all murderers from the past are hero worshiped but the point is, if he was doing his thing today, he would be seen as no good, but as it’s in the past, people tend to forget the pain he caused and just the legend. We are all guilty of it too, genghis khan is the one for me, love reading about him and romanticising his story but the trueth is he was like Hitler on a bad day.

  1. Oooh! I love me a good Billy the Kid story!

    Here’s the thing: As far as I know, Billy the Kid was no murderer. By many accounts of his day, he, in fact, despised killing. Doing it purely out of self-defense. Beginning with his first so-called “victim” Frank Cahill. (Cahill was a bully of the first degree according to his contemporaries. He came at Billy, threw him to the ground, at which point, Billy shot Cahill, who died the next day.)

    Fearing for his life from Cahill’s family, he fled further west, where he took up horse thievery. (I know that back then, stealing horses would earn you the death penalty. Which would be considered quite offensive to today’s sensibilities towards human rights. 19th-century America did not exactly have the best human-rights track record. Nor indeed did America all the way up through most of the 20th century!)

    Anyway, after working for a ranch or two, and while working for a cheese factory a little later, Billy met and began working for the Coe family, which was near Richard Brewer’s ranch.

    Bill, Brewer, the Coes, and a few other of their friends (forget their names, and should look it up,) was hired as cattle guards for one John Tunstall. (Tunstall was an English cattle rancher, and would prove to be the part of the cause of a Hatfield-McCoy-style family feud-turned-war. On the one side, was the Tunstalls and his hred help. on the other, were two Irish families calling themselves “The House,” who despised Tunstall for no other reason than he was an Englishman.)

    Tunstall was murdered by Jesse Evans, Sheriff William Brady, and their posse of bullies. All working for The House. (How in the world the descendants of Brady can defend such a despicable murderer in the guise of a lawman, is beyond me! :blankstare: ) The sheriff’s posse called it a “justifiable homicide” (whatever the hell THAT means) while all the evidence points to Tunstall trying to avoid any conflict whatsoever.

    Looking it up now in the Wiki, since I don;t remember all the names involved, (funny I am telling this story in the order the wiki tells it. Like I said, I like me a good Billy the Kid story!)

    McSween, a man who apparently hates violence and is on the “side” of Tunstall, decided to go about bringing the Tunstall murderers to justice through the law. The justice of the peace, John B. Wilson, issued a warrant for the arrests of the Tunstall murderers. One of whom was Sheriff Brady himself.

    Brewer, who was Tunstall’s foreman, deputized the Coes, Saunders, and Billy the Kid himself…a group calling themselves “The Regulators.”

    Two of the men they were able to round up were shot on the way to taking them to prison. Reportedly (and most likely) for attempting to escape from the Regulators. (Billy the Kid was not one of the ones who shot either of those men, it should be noted!)

    The Governor, Samuel Axtell, got himself involved in the conflict. He came into town, and turned the Regulators into outlaws. Now, Axtell, suspiciously, refused to recognize a group of famously corrupt policians known as the “Santa Fe Ring,” led by US Attorney Thomas Catron, who apparently was working for The House!!

    Brady turned around and arrested Bill and Fred Waite (another man in the Regulators.) He arrested the two men, while they in turn were attempting to serve the warrant on Brady issued by the local justice of the peace Wilson! Brady arrested the two men for “looting the late Tunstall’s property,” and accused two other Regulators for murdering Tunstall! (So Brady is not only a bully, a murderer, a dirty cop, but he’s a liar to boot!)

    Now, obviously what happens when you have two groups of armed men involved in a thick plot of conflict? One group of which is obviously a bunch of corrupt lying, murdering, dirty, low-down, no-good posse led by one who calls himself “Sherif?”

    Several of the Regulators, with Billy the Kid counted among them, ambushed the no-good Brady and killed him and his deputy George Hindman, right in the middle of Lincoln.

    This is where public opinion turned against the Regulators, and the myth that Billy the Kid was a notorious murderer comes down to us today. (Remember, Billy only killed one man in his life thus far, which was completely out of self-defense!)

    Anyway, the conflict continued, with the House continuing to be the aggressors. One John Copeland became sheriff, who sympathized with the Regulators.

    The House recruited several of Brady’s former deputies, formed another posse, and went after Sheriff Copeland, getting into an engagement with McNab (who was killed,) wounded Saunders, and captured one of the Coes.

    The Regulators finally traded shots with the House men, as well as US Cavalrymen, who were contacted to help end the bloodshed. (Obviously, shooting at US troops will not end up well for you.) The only death that day, was one member of the House. George Coe killed him.

    The Regulators eventually tracked down McNabb’s killer, and killed him a few weeks after their little skirmish with US troops, and House members. On the way, the picked up a new member, Tom O’Folliard, who became Billy’s best friend.

    The governor of the territory removed Copeland as sheriff, and replaced him with House member George Peppin. Which was not exactly legal at the time.

    US cavalry and House men were able to surround and trap the Regulators in McSween’s house. Billy and most of the Regulators were able to get out, and fled. McSween was shot and killed escaping the fire.

    Eventually, Lew Wallace became governor, and offered amnesty to any who would testify as to what happened in Lincoln. Billy was hiding out in Texas at the time, but offered himself up. He met with Wallace, and they agreed to terms.

    The House arrested Billy, despite Wallace’s orders anyway. But he, yet again, was able to escape on horseback. (This is why I love this friggin kid so damned much! Always able to somehow get himself involved in conflicts, get out of tight situations, get arrested, escape, get arrested some more, and continue to escape! :boogie: )

    By this time, Billy was really becoming quite famous, and the entire territory seemed to be after him, especially with Lew Wallace’s bounty of $500. Pat Garrett took up the cause of capturing Billy. He became sherrif, formed a posse, and trapped him and the Regulators inside a shack outside of town. Eventually, they surrendered, and Billy was taken up to Vegas. He was then transferred to Santa Fe. He was held at trial, and being the only person thus far found “guilty” in the Lincoln County War, was sentenced to die by hanging by Judge Bristol.

    Billy, being the escape artist that he is, killed two of his guards and escaped after the sentencing.

    There are many other notable things that happened that I did not mention. Other men he killed. (Such as the man in a saloon who attempted to shoot at Billy while he purposely had his back to him. Again, he killed out of self-defense, only, giving that man the chance to stand down.)

    He was a earnest, and attempted to plead his case to governor Wallace, who refused to treat with the kid after one of his escapes. Judging by his character, there is no reason to not believe anything of what he told and/or wrote. He seems to have been an honest man, surrounded by nothing but murdering liars.

    If you look up “Billy the Kid” the on wiki, you will notice that I failed to give credit where I quoted certain phrases in this account, as used by Wikipedia.

    But this is an interesting tidbit, that came later than this blog entry, IRT the original ferotype of the only photograph of Billy the Kid:

    “The ferrotype sold at auction on June 25, 2011, in a three-day Western show. It was purchased for 2.3 million dollars, some six times the estimate. It was the most expensive piece ever sold at Brian Lebel’s Annual Old West Show & Auction,[117] and the 7th most expensive photograph ever sold.”

    (Note: This took a while to write out, and did not go back to spell-check, or fact-check for accuracy in wording.)

  2. El governador Bill Richardson de Nou Mèxic ha decidit no perdonar pòstumament a Billy the Kid , també conegut com William H. Bonney, també conegut com Henry McCarty, per cap dels seus molts crims. Richardson va considerar perdonar-lo perquè el registre històric suggereix que el governador territorial Lew Wallace podria haver ampliat la promesa d’un indult a canvi del testimoni de Billy contra un altre assassí. Billy va declarar però l’indult mai es va materialitzar. Va escapar de la presó i va matar a dos guàrdies per ser capturat de nou, fugir de nou i, finalment, matat a trets pel sheriff del comtat de Lincoln, Pat Garrett, el 1881.
    A les famílies Wallace i Garrett no els va agradar que el governador Richardson estigués disposat a tornar a examinar la qüestió de si Wallace va establir un acord amb Billy the Kid que va confirmar i si Garrett havia disparat a un home equivocat. Els descendents del xèrif William J. Brady, víctima de Billy the Kid, mort el dia del tonto d’abril de 1878, també es van sentir ofesos per la mateixa noció d’indult.

    Al juliol d’aquest any, els néts i besnéts de Garrett li van escriure al senyor Richardson: “Si Billy the Kid visqués entre nosaltres ara, emetríeu un perdó a algú que es guanyés la vida com a lladre i, més flagrantment, que el matés? quatre agents de la policia i molts altres? ”

    Però els aficionats a la història que també són governadors no es poden dissuadir tan fàcilment, sobretot quan no poden tornar a presentar-se a causa dels límits de mandat. Richardson va crear un lloc web sobre el perdó de Billy the Kid, sol·licitant comentaris al públic en general sobre la qüestió. Dels 809 correus electrònics rebuts, 430 d’ells es van mostrar partidaris d’atorgar l’indult, 379 van estar en contra.

    Malgrat els aclaparadors números pro-Bonney, el governador va decidir finalment que les proves eren massa poc concloents, fins i tot per a aquest nivell d’indult per atreviments turístics. Al cap i a la fi, fins i tot si Lew Wallace li va oferir perdó a Billy the Kid, podria haver mentit per obtenir el seu testimoni. Mai no hi va haver cap garantia, ni hi ha cap registre formal del governador Wallace que faci aquesta oferta.

    Alguns historiadors suggereixen que el senyor Wallace mai no va oferir un perdó explícit al proscrit, que també es deia Henry McCarty i William H. Bonney, i que podria haver estat intentant enganyar-lo. Poc abans que el senyor Wallace deixés el càrrec, va dir a un diari: “No puc veure com un home com ell hauria d’esperar cap clemència de mi”.
    Comentari de Mike M
    08/06/2012 19:23:27
    Oooh! M’encanta una bona història de Billy the Kid!

    Heus aquí la cosa: que jo sàpiga, Billy the Kid no va ser un assassí. Segons molts relats del seu temps, de fet, menyspreava l’assassinat. Fer-ho purament per legítima defensa. Començant per la seva primera anomenada “víctima” Frank Cahill. (Cahill era un assetjador de primer grau segons els seus contemporanis. Va arribar a Billy, el va tirar a terra, moment en què Billy va disparar a Cahill, que va morir l’endemà).

    Tement per la vida de la família de Cahill, va fugir més cap a l’oest, on va començar a robar cavalls. (Sé que, aleshores, robar cavalls us guanyaria la pena de mort. La qual cosa seria considerat bastant ofensiu per a la sensibilitat actual dels drets humans. Els Estats Units del segle XIX no tenien exactament els millors antecedents en matèria de drets humans. Tampoc no ho feien tots els Estats Units el camí fins a la major part del segle XX!)

    De totes maneres, després de treballar per a un ranxo o dos, i mentre treballava per a una formatgeria una mica més tard, Billy es va conèixer i va començar a treballar per a la família Coe, que estava a prop del ranxo de Richard Brewer.

    Bill, Brewer, els Coes i alguns altres amics seus (obliden els seus noms i haurien de buscar-los) van ser contractats com a guardians per a un John Tunstall. (Tunstall era un ramader anglès i demostraria ser la part de la causa d’una disputa familiar convertida en guerra d’estil Hatfield-McCoy. Per una banda, hi havia els Tunstalls i el seu ajut. De l’altra, eren dues famílies irlandeses que es deien a si mateixes “The House”, que menyspreaven Tunstall sense cap altra raó que no fos un anglès.)

    Tunstall va ser assassinat per Jesse Evans, el xèrif William Brady i la seva bossa de matones. Tots treballen per a The House. (Com és que al món els descendents de Brady poden defensar un assassí tan menyspreable sota l’aparença d’un home de lleis, està més enllà de mi! : blankstare:) La posseïdora del sheriff l’anomenà un “homicidi justificable” (sigui el que diables això signifiqui) mentre totes les proves apunten a Tunstall intentant evitar qualsevol conflicte.

    Buscant-ho ara a la Wiki, ja que no recordo tots els noms implicats (és curiós que explico aquesta història en l’ordre que explica la wiki. Com he dit, m’agrada una bona història de Billy the Kid!)

    McSween, un home que aparentment odia la violència i està al “costat” de Tunstall, va decidir perseguir els assassins de Tunstall a la justícia mitjançant la llei. El jutge de pau, John B. Wilson, va emetre una ordre per a la detenció dels assassins de Tunstall. Un dels quals era el mateix sheriff Brady.

    Brewer, que era el capatàs de Tunstall, va substituir a Coes, Saunders i al propi Billy the Kid … un grup que es feia dir “Els reguladors”.

    Dos dels homes que van poder reunir van ser afusellats en el camí cap a la seva presó. Segons els informes (i el més probable) per haver intentat escapar dels reguladors. (Billy the Kid no va ser un dels que va disparar cap d’aquests homes, cal tenir-ne en compte!)

    El governador, Samuel Axtell, es va implicar en el conflicte. Va arribar a la ciutat i va convertir els reguladors en proscrits. Ara, Axtell, sospitosament, es va negar a reconèixer un grup de famosos polítics corruptes coneguts com l ‘”Anell de Santa Fe”, dirigit pel fiscal Thomas Catron, que aparentment treballava per a The House !!

    Brady es va girar i va arrestar a Bill i Fred Waite (un altre home dels reguladors). Va arrestar els dos homes, mentre al seu torn intentaven complir l’ordre de Brady emesa pel jutge de pau local Wilson. Brady va arrestar els dos homes per “saquejar la propietat del difunt Tunstall” i va acusar altres dos reguladors per assassinar Tunstall. (Per tant, Brady no només és un assetjador, un assassí, un policia brut, sinó que és un mentider per arrencar!)

    Ara, òbviament, què passa quan teniu dos grups d’homes armats involucrats en una densa trama de conflicte? Un dels grups és, òbviament, un grup de mentides corruptes, assassines, brutes, baixes i poc bones, liderades per un que es fa dir “sherif?”

    Diversos dels reguladors, amb Billy the Kid comptat entre ells, van emboscar el no-bo Brady i el van matar a ell i al seu adjunt George Hindman, al bell mig de Lincoln.

    Aquí és on l’opinió pública es va tornar contra els reguladors i ens arriba avui el mite que Billy the Kid era un assassí notori. (Recordeu, fins ara, Billy només va matar un home a la seva vida, cosa que estava completament per lliure defensa).

    De totes maneres, el conflicte va continuar, i la Cambra va continuar sent els agressors. Un John Copeland es va convertir en sheriff, que simpatitzava amb els reguladors.

    La Cambra va reclutar a diversos exdiputats de Brady, va formar una altra policia i va anar a buscar el sheriff Copeland, prenent un compromís amb McNab (que va morir), va ferir Saunders i va capturar un dels Coes.

    Els reguladors finalment van intercanviar trets amb homes de la Cambra, així com amb cavallers nord-americans, que van ser contactats per ajudar a acabar amb el vessament de sang. (Viouslybviament, disparar contra les tropes nord-americanes no us acabarà bé.) L’única mort d’aquest dia va ser un membre de la Cambra. George Coe el va matar.

    Els reguladors finalment van localitzar l’assassí de McNabb i el van matar poques setmanes després de la seva petita escaramuza amb les tropes nord-americanes i els membres de la Cambra. De camí, va recollir un nou membre, Tom O’Folliard, que es va convertir en el millor amic de Billy.

    El governador del territori va eliminar Copeland com a sheriff i el va substituir pel membre de la Cambra George Peppin. Cosa que no era exactament legal en aquell moment.

    La cavalleria nord-americana i els homes de la casa van poder envoltar i atrapar els reguladors a la casa de McSween. Billy i la majoria dels reguladors van poder sortir i van fugir. McSween va ser assassinat a trets fugint del foc.

    Finalment, Lew Wallace es va convertir en governador i va oferir amnistia a qualsevol que declarés el que va passar a Lincoln. En aquell moment, Billy s’amagava a Texas, però es va oferir. Es va reunir amb Wallace i van acceptar els termes.

    La Cambra va detenir Billy, malgrat les ordres de Wallace. Però ell, una vegada més, va poder escapar a cavall. (És per això que estimo molt maleït aquest xicot! Sempre és capaç d’implicar-me d’alguna manera en conflictes, sortir de situacions de tensió, ser arrestat, escapar, ser arrestat i continuar fugint : boogie: )

    En aquell moment, Billy es convertia en realment bastant famós i tot el territori semblava que el seguia, sobretot amb la recompensa de Lew Wallace de 500 dòlars. Pat Garrett va assumir la causa de la captura de Billy. Es va convertir en sherrif, va formar una policia i el va atrapar a ell i als reguladors dins d’una barraca fora de la ciutat. Finalment, es van rendir i Billy va ser portat a Las Vegas. Després va ser traslladat a Santa Fe. Va ser detingut al judici i, sent l’única persona fins ara declarada “culpable” a la guerra del comtat de Lincoln, va ser condemnat a morir penjat pel jutge Bristol.

    Billy, sent l’artista d’escapament que és, va matar a dos dels seus guàrdies i es va escapar després de la sentència.

    Hi ha moltes altres coses notables que van passar que no he esmentat. Altres homes que va matar. (Com l’home d’un saló que va intentar disparar contra Billy mentre tenia l’esquena a propòsit. De nou, va matar per defensa pròpia, només donant a aquell l’home la possibilitat de posar-se dret).

    Era seriós i va intentar defensar el seu cas al governador Wallace, que es va negar a tractar amb el nen després d’una de les seves fugides. A jutjar pel seu caràcter, no hi ha cap raó per no creure res del que va explicar i / o escriure. Sembla que era un home honest, envoltat de mentidors mentidors.

    Si busqueu “Billy the Kid” a la wiki, notareu que no he donat crèdit per citar certes frases d’aquest compte, tal com les utilitza Wikipedia.

    Però aquest és un fet interessant, que va arribar més tard que aquesta entrada del bloc, IRT, el ferotip original de l’única fotografia de Billy the Kid:

    “El ferrotip es va vendre en una subhasta el 25 de juny de 2011, en un programa occidental de tres dies. Es va comprar per 2,3 milions de dòlars, aproximadament sis vegades l’estimació. Va ser la peça més cara que s’ha venut a Brian Lebel’s Annual Old West Show & Auction, [117] i la setena fotografia més cara mai venuda ”.

    (Nota: això va trigar una estona a escriure-se i no es va tornar a la correcció ortogràfica ni a la comprovació de fets per comprovar la precisió de la redacció).

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