Saturday, 14 July 2007

Once Upon a Time in the West

A notable anniversary. Not that pathetic jaunt up to the madhouse, of course. One hundred and twenty six years ago today, Billy the Kid was shot. He had been on the run ever since being let down by the governor of the Territory of New Mexico, a retired Union general who had promised him amnesty if he gave himself up to the authorities and testified on the Lincoln County Cattle War prompted by John Tunstall's murder.
When he was not released after the indictments, Billy the Kid was more or less forced back into being an outlaw, though he kept writing to the governor asking him to protect him.
But the governor was busy. In November the previous year, his novel had come out. It was Ben-Hur. It became the best-selling novel of the 19th Century. General Lew Wallace has a museum at his old study, in his hometown of Crawfordsville, Indiana. If you go there, I recommend the Silver Dollar Bar.