tv Legends Lies The Real West FOX News April 26, 2015 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
they would shape the nation. they hold the destiny and part of the new mythology. but with the passing of time, every myth has its reckoning. james butler hickok, better known to america as wild bill, an unruly lawman and quick draw, behind every badge stands a man and behind every legend lies the truth. >> wild bill hickok conjures an image of an out of control gun slin ger. the truth is, he's a righteous man of justice who would much rather avoid a fight than start one. there is some truth to his legend, though. if you took on wild bill,
chances are, you'll wind up dead. >> in the spring of 1861, 24-year-old william hickok turns up in rock creek, nebraska, a tiny stop on the pony express where bill does odd jobs, keeps to himself and stays out of trouble. >> not yet. i told you not to call me that. >> well you tell him i'm coming back. you tell him i'm coming back for what is rightfully mine. >> if you knew what a wholesome disregard i had for liars and rascals, you'd stay out of my way. >> i'm coming back, bill. i'm coming back. >> the station was owned by a tough local character who was named dave mccanles and they
hadn't been paying their rent. mckrchl anles was always coming by and harassing people at the station. >> mccanles was a bully. >> hickok's dislike for bullies traces back to his time as a young boy. he grew up with abolitionist parents and his family was part of the underground railroad that helped slaves escape to freedom. >> the underground railroad was a network of trails and safe houses that helped people escape from north and then on to canada. >> it's illegal to do what they were doing but many would be involved for what they would call higher law, higher calling. >> hickok is expected to help, despite the risk of being caught by bounty hunters and shot dead. >> hurry, father, they are
catching up. >> i'm not seeing anything over here. come on, let's go! >> get out of here! >> the danger of rescuing slaves leaves a lasting impression on young bill, giving him a fearlessness that begins to define him as a man. >> what you going to do? cry? >> hey! >> hickok continues his abolitionist ways working in the union army. he comes to the rescue of one of
his fellow scouts, a 12-year-old named william cody. the two would remain lifelong friends. >> you all right, son? >> yeah. >> you two fellas like picking on children? >> hickok's sense of justice, greatly influenced by his parents, caused him to get into situations where he should always stand up for right. he was a defender of the down trodden and those who could not help themselves. >> the restless hickok makes his way west and finds work with the pony express. >> the pony express is the fastest means of communication. so what towns are doing are setting up stations along the way and it's at one of the relay stations that wild bill heck ic
has his brush with violence and pain. >> the owners of the rock creek station are in debt to dave mccanles and he wants his money or the deed to the property. >> we don't have it. >> he's right. we ain't got it. >> horace, there's someone coming. >> dave is here with his son james. >> ladies, you better go to the cellar. >> go out that way. [ knocking on door ]. >> this ain't your property no more. >> i guess since you haven't
paid, it's mine again. well, hello. how about a glass of water? >> there's no need for that. mr. mccanles will be leaving soon. we can't give what we don't have. >> when? >> what is it a matter of? >> i have a piece of paper that says you owe me two months. [ gunfire ] >> horace! [ screaming ] >> the biggest mystery of the
shootout at rock creek is who fires first? wellman or hickok? we'll never know for sure but many historians find it hard to believe that hickok would take the first shot, especially from behind a curtain. it's not in his character. the most likely is wellman takes the first shot and hickok being the better shot prevails. >> the boy escapes but two of mccanles' gang are still alive. the wellmans act out of desperation in the moment. [ screaming ] hickok is determined to see it through to the end. >> you started this and now we've got to finish it. [ screaming ] >> the mccanles incident becomes the story of one man single-handedly taking on an
entire gang. and wild bill is not filled with just one or two men but hundreds. this is the moment where the wild bill of the legend is born and it's that legend that hickok will trade on for the rest of his life. >> hickok is now branded a gun snapper, a reputation that is shopping online... ...is as easy as it gets. wouldn't it be great if hiring plumbers, carpenters and even piano tuners... were just as simple? thanks to angie's list, now it is. start shopping online... ...from a list of top rated providers. visit angieslist.com today. when it comes to your credit, in the know is the place to be. transunion.com makes it easy.
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worth fighting for. as the civil war comes to the american frontier, hickok continues in the family tradition of fighting against slavery by volunteering for the union cause and returns as a scout in the federal army civilian calvary. >> he was renowned as a dead shop. >> hickok develops his signatures reverse draw, or twist draw, that will soon make him famous. >> i have seen sights that would make the wicked sick. what i say is true. >> after four years of bloody battles, with over 620,000
casualties and nearly a million more missing in action, the civil war finally comes to an end. hickok heads south to springfield, missouri, looking for new opportunities. >> wild bill hickok may be an honorable man with a strong sense of justice but his clothing choices and hairstyles, facial and otherwise, are kind of hard to defend. one thing we know for sure is that hickok likes to be noticed and the way he looks makes sure he will be. >> bill hickok was so pretty, it hurts. he was a very compassionate man, a decent man. his eyes would reflect that compassion. but if you ever challenged him, he could stare down a rattlesnake. >> in july of 1865, hickok takes a seat at the table with davis
tutt, a former confederate soldier turned a gambler. does is st did about p off the street. >> legend has it wild bill hickok always sits with his back to the wall. this part of his legend is 100% true. maybe he's had one too many challenges to his manhood. maybe it's just commonsense. but hickok almost always insists on a seat facing the door, whether it's empty or not. >> hickok is a union soldier socializing with confederates just weeks after the civil war ends. loyalties run deep and tensions run high even over a card game. >> just deal another hand. come on. >> another drink. don't be stingy.
>> you got aces. >> looks like you owe me 35, bill. >> i believe that's 25. >> you owe me 45 now. >> gentlemen. >> it was a matter of some pride that hickok was good for his dad. he didn't need to leave any collateral and was just persistent that he wanted bill's watch and he took bill's watch. this infuriated hickok. >> he does not want to see him walking around with that watch. so what does tutt do the next day? he walks around with the watch. what happens next has been the basis for countless legends of
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[ gunfire ] satisfied? we can have more dead men today. >> this isn't colonial america. most gunfights in the real west are not showdowns in the street. they are more dirty, opportunistic executions. his shootout with tutt is so famous that it takes on a life of its own. >> free shooting. read about it. wild bill. wild bill guns him down in a shoot. >> when the newspapers published papers on the shootout, it's the
first time that wild bill was used in print. >> the nation had just come out of the civil war in which 600,000 had died. there's a hunger, a thrift for action stories and tales about wild bill hickok feed that appetite. >> knowing he is innocent, he is charged with manslaughter. >> you fine in there, bill? >> i'm fine, sheriff. he drew first. it was a clean shooting. >> hickok is acquitted and once out of jail he looks to get back on the right side of law. a reputation for gun slinging is currency in the west and bill is quick to cash in. hickok lands a job as a federal detective tracking down stolen horses and counterfeiters.
then, in february of 1867, an interview he gets with journalist george nichols is published in harper's new monthly magazine. the article is full of exaggerated claims and wild bill becomes a national hero overnight. >> damn you nichols. [ gunfire ] >> twisted it all up. >> harper's weekly was essentially the internet of the west. i mean, everyone read it. it was everywhere and it was the news. to not only have your story about yourself in there but illustrations that made you look much more dramatic than you really were, it was fantastic for hickok professionally. >> with his fame growing daily
while bill hickok is elected marshal of a booming rail town. >> congratulations, mr. hickok, you're now a dually elected official of the city of kansas. >> the event marks the first step in his career as celebrity law enforcement. but hickok's new-found fame is both a benefit and a curse. for some, it commands respect. but it also puts a target on his back. >> it was a hotbed of youthful indiscretion. it was a cattle town and rail head. a lot of guys came in there to spend their money. >> you don't know what a country this is for fighting and drinking. a man can do what he pleases without fear of the law or anything else. >> it was fairly lost until hickok came around. >> once you acquire this international fame, which he
did, of being the quickest shot in the west, you're going to get some jerk who wants to make a name for himself by taking you down. >> in july of 1870, while hayes city contains the seventh calvary, hickok gains resentment among the troops. the brash young soldiers under general custer's command size up the legendary gun slinger. >> look who it is. >> who? >> wild bill. all right. we can take him. okay?
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hickok's life is spared by a misfire. the soldiers aren't as lucky. >> it's clear that every witness in that bar, wild bill hickok acted in self-defense. he's well within his rights to defend himself. the problem is, those witnesses are nearly all soldiers, just like the men he shot. hickok spends the night in a nearby cemetery literally waiting for the calvary to come for him. but they never do. more than likely, because of his reputation as a gunman. >> wild bill is never charged in the shooting but hayes city is
no longer safe. he's forced to move on to a place where his reputation with a gunslinger law man will serve him more in abilene, kansas. >> it was the end of the trail for the herds coming north from texas. everyone is fueled on alcohol, of course, and somebody has to keep the peace and that's wild bill hickok. >> this is an interesting moment in american history where a burgeoning society feeds to remove the unsafe ree items. but how do you do that? well, you need to find someone who has one foot in both circles, who can travel in both circles. >> now wild bill has a chance to secure his legend as a star lawman in one of the wildest
towns in the wild west. >> what are you talking to him for? >> barmaid, drink for my deputy, please. >> so this is a man who enjoyed a good drink, enjoyed a hand of cards and enjoyed the company of a certain type of woman. >> it is impossible to separate the civil war from the real west. after the war, former soldiers from both sides head west to frontier towns with few laws and lots of guns. it is a highly volatile situation with great potential for violence. >> you're something else. >> am i? >> you are. >> hickok's most dangerous critic in abilene is a former confederate soldier. rumor has it that they had a falling out over a prostitute. >> why are you looking at bill? i'm right here. look at you.
[ laughter ] >> wild bill blesses us with his presence. >> yeah. >> be glad when cattle season is over. haven't seen the west in four months. another two weeks and these texans will be all heading back south. >> hickok and his part-time deputy, mike williams, have weathered a rowdy cattle season. they've been keeping the peace for months and have become close friends. [ gunfire ]
>> who fired that shot? >> hickok is surrounded by texans. he's aware of the danger and scans the crowd for the next threat. >> who fired that shot? >> ah! >> just shooting at a stray dog, hickok. >> i don't care what you're shooting at, phil. the law says no guns in town. [ screaming ] [ gunfire ] >> the celebrity sheriff has just crossed a line and committed an unpardonable sin. >> when bill hickok shoots and kills his own special deputy mike williams, it is the moment the legend of wild bill and the
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[ gunfire ] >> who fired that shot? >> wild bill hickok is a legend in his own lifetime. a reputation as a lawman and gunslinger puts a target on his back. but living under a constant threat has given him a hard edge and a hair trigger. >> this is the beginning of the end for hickok. he will never hold a position as a lawman again. he never forgives himself for the fatal mistake. >> everything looks dark about me.
>> hickok pays for his friend's funeral in kansas city and then loses himself in gambling halls in the big city. he wanders from town to town hoping to distance himself from his memories and leave his past behind. >> you want to deal me in, fella? >> show me your money first. >> show you my money? there's my money. >> all right. >> his guilty conscience won't
allow him to forget or forgive himself for killing an innocent man. wild bill drifts across the west for a better part of a year. he's drunk most of the time and completely broke. until his old friend, buffalo bill cody offers him a job. >> how you doing, bill? >> buffalo bill cody and bill hickok had known each other for a long time. he knew about the wild west and convinced hickok that we had to share this with the new generation of people who didn't know the wild west as they did. cody invites him to be part of this wild west show. >> let's get this over with. i feel ridiculous. >> okay. easy now. are you going to make it? [ laughter ] >> he played a parity of himself
far removed from the western frontier. >> this will take just a moment. >> all right. can you turn down the damn lights you've got over there? >> right there. that one! [ gunfire ] [ screaming ] the pressure of the spotlight proves too much. and he heads west again in search of redemption. in the black hills of dakota territory where gold has been found, hickok joins thousands of fortune hunters flooding the town of deadwood.
>> i don't think you could have found anyplace more violent than deadwood, south dakota. it just was a place that has no law. people are stealing from one another, people jumping one another. there are people that are being killed in a very violent way. you had all of this going on and in this scene you find wild bill he hickok. >> the legend falls back into old habits, drinking and gambling his time away. >> i have a hunch that i'm in my final game and i'll never make it out of this and survive. something tells me that my time is up. where it's coming from, i do not
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>> all in. >> get some rest. take it easy. here, have some breakfast. it's on me. >> mccaul said hickok has given him money to go get something to eat and calm down. but mccaul isn't having any of it. >> i guess he's out. >> the next day wild bill arrives late to the number ten saloon, only to find his favorite seat facing the door is already taken.
>> fellas? charlie, do you mind if i have that seat so i can see the door? >> i'm on a roll, bill. >> all right. deal me in. >> there was certainly a moment in wild bill's life he could have had anything he wanted. it was like the bar red sea parted for him. wild bill was not the man he once was. >> at 39 years old, hickok is no longer a lawman. he's simply a drifter, a gambler and an aging gunslinger with a violent history. and his past is closing in behind him.
>> all right, charlie, i'll raise you. >> jack mccaul is a drunk. he's somebody who is looking for a way of fast fame. mccaul comes in, and before hickok knows it, takes his gun and shoots him in the back of the head. hickok, face down on the table, and is dead. >> jack mccaul is later convicted of murder and hangs for his crime. no motive is ever revealed.
>> after hickok dies, with an ace in his hand, that hand becomes a powerful symbol in western literature and film. that writers and filmmakers use to signal that death is ahead. >> unable to outrun his reputation, the gunslinger never gets the chance to face his killer. he's buried in deadwood's original cemetery under the inscription wild bill, killed by the assassin jack mccaul. >> the legend of wild bill hickok is full of lies, spread by magazines and newspapers of the day. today, that legend untamed, indiscriminating gunman, persists. but the truth of hickok's life is far less sensational. he's a man driven by justice, scarred by a mistake that haunts him. as he searches for the redemption he will never find. even in death, wild bill hickok
adds to his legend. with one last tale, this time a true one, to enhance his legacy of the real west. thank you for the work that amsterdam has done in helping in relief. i thank the abu dhabi global data initiative for bringing us all here. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. >> the clintons have been cashing in. >> they took in something like $136 million. >> but have they also been selling out? >> everybody walked away from the table that night with something. >> the clintons' influence is felt all over the globe. >> bill clinton did a good job. >> it sounds like there's a but in there. >> there's a lot of buts. >> will it all come back to haunt hillary. >> we're talking about uranium. we're talking about the rusan