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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 31, 2012 9:15pm-10:00pm EDT

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book tv attended an author agent while touring little rock arkansas. we visited the city has a part of our local content city tour examining the literal landscape of several southeast cities. in this 40 minute event, ms. mcclafferty recounts the 2005 project where a group of historians and scientists from george washington's mount vernon estate set out to better understand what the first u.s. president looked like at different moments in his life. >> nonfiction books on the wide variety of topics from george washington to the x-rays to an
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american holocaust rescuer to the titans like bill gates and steve jobs and others. so when i began a project i really know very little about my topic, and as i begin to do the research, i sort of go on a treasure hunt. that's the way i like to look at it and i use primary sources in order to get through the material that i made to write nonfiction books that not only inaccurate but hopefully interesting. i began to look into a book about george washington and decided to write this book i began with george washington in the very same way. i knew very little about washington to the i had heard of course that he had shot down a cherry tree, which he didn't, and i had heard that he wore a wig which he didn't come and i heard that he had wooden teeth, which he didn't.
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so i found out very quickly the things i thought i knew about george washington were absolutely not any of them cracked. so as i began the book which i described as csis meets the biography channel coming and you will see why as we go along, it has been a treat for me to replace all of those myths with the facts about george washington. the premise of the book is did george washington really look like his image on the 1 dollar bill? win mount vernon did some research and found that most americans would describe this image of george washington taken from the portrait as old, boring and grumpy come in and of course they realized they were going to have to change their way of looking at the father of our country. they devised a plan in which they would create three life-size figures of george washington and show him at the
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ages of 1945 to 57, and to do this they compiled the team from the experts from all over the world for the project of the physical anthropologist and he began the project. from there he gathered other experts say they all began these coming into these were all done by jean antoine houdon the famous sculpture in washington's day and he actually came to mount vernon to observe washington. and why all he was there, he treated the life mass that you see on the right side, and he also created what you see on the left side and gave the bus to washington as a parting gift when he left. when he went back to his studio in paris he created a beautiful model statute is still at the
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virginia state capitol in richmond so there is no doubt that these pieces of art show what george washington look at the age of 53 cities were the gold standards for this whole project. from there, they got the help of the doctor who is with the prison laboratory in arizona state university, and they devised a way to scan all of these artifacts in a way that wouldn't damage them. so if you see this is the washington bus done with a laser scan, and on the bottom left you see where all of that information that was fed into a computer system and a sort of made a mesh that was an exact replica of the bus, so they did many of the artifacts this way and as they did, they were able
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to study them and they were able then to get all of these various measurements that were from george washington because as a master sculptor he would have measured every part of his body. so when they had all the information, the other thing the was necessary for them to figure out is the one thing that every schoolchild knows about george washington and that is that he has dentures. he did indeed have dentures and these are actually the dentures the george washington actually had in his mouth at some point in his life. i like to point out when i deutsch school visits the one on the top left as uzi it is a heinous looking thing so every time now when i look at the dollar will and i see the picture of george washington, envisioned dentures very much
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like this one in his mouth and i have a lot of sympathy for him. at the time he would have struggled to keep that in his mouth and he would have been really sort of embarrassed about the way that they made hismelt look. but these dangers actually play a very important role in this process. what they were able to do with this is determined because of the shape of his jaw and every step along the way they put that information to see if it did to fit perfectly within because this is the gold standard. if it didn't fit their than it wasn't right to read as the project moved along, the science came to a close and they ended up with these three incredible computer files of george washington as he would have looked at 1945 to 57.
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at 19 years of age he would have had a much longer face and he did later in life. as he lost teeth as he did throughout his life his face would have appeared shorter and shorter involved. so this information to impart when the computer files for finished it went to a phone head and then a clay had that once again took the skill of a master sculptor and this is stored williamson. it took him to then take that information and those heads and craft into those heads and expression and a moment in time the wrinkles and the concern that you see on his face it to a master sculptor once again to accomplish. from there as you see on the left, those were then turned into fax heads and winep the wax
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heads were finished, the labels were placed in the head because if you think about it, if their eyeballs word wax, they would never look real they put in these acrylic audibles and there's no doubt that george washington's i color was blue or gray. many people of the day wrote about the color of his eyes so there is no doubt about that. so as the project sort of move along, it went to torch end of things. i have unfortunate experience when i was doing the work for the book because i had thought an incredible opportunity to go to mount vernon when they were during the yearly maintenance of the figures. on the left is diana cord ray the mount vernon education manager and in the metal is
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geeky who's an incredible artist as you will see, and on the right is stevan, a magnificent wig master. while i was there i was able to see the figures as they were maintained and what they looked like and what they felt like then i was able to ask of the questions i wanted to ask and, you know, ask all the things i asked when i was a little girl how long did it take you and what is it made of and why and why and then what happened? so this was a wonderful part in it for me to see these figures as they were being worked on and see them up close and see how they really went about creating them. sue day is not only the artist you will see in a moment, but she is also the one that put the
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hairline into each of the figures which washington. you can see in this slide she is putting one human hair at a time directly into the wax so it looks like it is actually growing out of his head. it's critical to get the hairline right on these figures and she is constantly checking against all of these images of george washington, because if the airline was not correct, then none of it would look right so one by one she used this tool to put in that hairline and as she did so for each of the figures. it's painstaking work. also, there's no doubt what color george washington's hair was and the reason is there are many blocks if his hair that exist today and i got to see some of it. it's kind of a chess not cover.
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it's somewhere in the middle and so she is using hair that was purchased from a year merchant in london and at exactly the color the need to be. this is an image of stevan as he is getting ready to put one of his custom waves back on and as you can see on the left side, this is one that goes on general washington's head. he takes one human hair at a time and makes it custom and the wigs on the three figures, steven is also the one who does george washington's hair. so as the progress of the three
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continues, i wanted to show you this image which is a young george washington at the age of 19 as he would have looked when he was the survey year in the wilderness of virginia. his on balzar in the, his hair long and is aimed, the incredible wave is on the back of his head and he has won base coat of paint on his face and then sue day creates magic and she takes that very pale face and she creates george washington. i write in public and i try in my book and when i speak to school children all over, i try to bring all of this to life for them by saying every time i see this figure, i know that it doesn't feel like stubble when you touched his face but it looks so real, that 5:00 shadow, it looks like you would feel it.
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here is one of my favorite images of young george washington, and up close and personal look at this incredible figure, and when all i look at this i remind people that each of eyebrow was inserted one human here at a time come each eyelash, one human hair at a time, so i think the incredible scale of sue day is clear as she makes these incredible pieces look like they could talk to ressa, george washington also needed a body, and the way the experts created what is an accurate representation of the wave of his body looked is because they studied the textiles that he wore. there are many pieces of clothing that still exist the george washington wore during his lifetime. the uniform on the left is the smithsonian museum of history.
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of the things on the right or in the collection at mount vernon. as of the textile expert looked and investigated all of the pieces of clothing and measured each piece exactly, and they were not able to understand the size of george washington but also how he fits in those close. so they understood what his body would have been shaped like. linda is the textile expert at colonial williamsburg and i interviewed linda for the book and she gave me the of rules going into the vault at colonial williamsburg to see authentic 18th-century closing in their incredible collection. she was able to answer a lot of questions for me. i was able to ask her what part of george washington's life and
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the way that he moved had to do with the kind of clothing he wore and the way that it made him stand and the way that it made him move and all of those were important to me. i like to see the george washington came to life from mount vernon the the 18th century came to life for me at colonial williamsburg. here are the finished figures as you would see them out mount vernon today. this shows george as a survey year at 19-years-old and each piece of his clothing was made by hand using 18th-century methods come and they are an absolutely stunning to read this is what general george washington would have looked alike at the time he was at valley forge and this is what president george washington would have looked like on the day of his first inauguration. but as i said, to know george
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washington is for me when i went to mount vernon. mount vernon is owned and operated by the ladies' association, and the first time i went there i wanted to sit on the back porch and watch the sun come up, and i did that. i got up at four thanks 31 morning and it was dark and i made my way there and i sat on the far right side and watched the sun come up over the potomac river and for a biographer like myself, they're has to be a moment i really connect with my subject and for me the moment was right here. i saw this incredible sunrise coming up over the potomac river and i realize how many times must george washington had seen the site and for me it was a moment he became real.
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he became more and more real when i researched his life. here's a close-up of george and each of these periods of time i talk about in the book all i really like to sum up what george washington was like. at this point in his life in the shares he is a man she ended up to be about 6-foot two of ruddy complexion with chestnut colored hair who was athletic and strong and have long arms and legs long legs, a survivor of the wilderness, he loved the horse races, box hunting, cards, billiards, he was fashionable when he was interested in clothing. he was one of the best dancers in virginia and he was very
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ambitious to read when i talk to school kids on these visits i like to explain george washington in this way. george washington was such a man that he admired his athletic ability and the police wanted to dance with him at the ball. i believe when he came into the room every head turned. he was also by the time he was 22-years-old he was actually already famous not only in virginia but in england and france. he wasn't famous necessarily for something great because of what he was sort of involved with actually began the french and indian war. so he was well known long before he became the father of our country really had a very interesting way to connect with george washington when i found out that the letters that george
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wrote to his wife, martha, only two of them exist, and i was fascinated because the two letters are from 1775 right when george washington is taking the command of the continental army, and i love this letter which i found a way to put into the book for he's telling her from philadelphia and says he's going to have to take command of the continental army and he's basically saying i've got to go if i've got to do this, and at the end i shall feel no pain from the toy or the danger of the campaign to read my unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness i know you would feel of being left alone. but i had a wonderful experience also at mount vernon that i just was not able to fit this letter, the second letter from george to martha in the book so i told
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myself any time i spoke about this book i would tell the story, so here it is. this was written just a few days after that first letter and he was still in philadelphia getting ready to go to cambridge, and he writes and says they are waiting on me to leave and i am now going to the camp at boston. but he tells her in the bottom on a retain affection for you which neither time or distance can change. so for me this was an important part of understanding george washington because sometimes i think she and martha's relationship is made into something it's not and i think in these letters i see george washington who had a deep love for his life. by the time washington is at valley forge, she is in a period of time in the war that is
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difficult. he is being discussed in congress as in whispers maybe we need to get rid of him he's not doing so hot in the war. when he left the quarters at chellie george, george washington had a lot on his mind you can see that stuart's incredible mastery of sculpture, you can see sue day's and kunkel talent painting the face, and you can see the worry in the the stress in his eyes. when he's going into the winter quarters, the british are occupying philadelphia, the capitol and the are only 16 miles away, and his men, a lot of them don't have shoes on their feet. and as they walked through the snow they leave bloody footprints and they don't have enough clothes to keep them warm
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when it's their turn to be on guard and some in congress want to replace them. so he has a lot on his mind here. but i try in this book to show george washington through the eyes of his contemporaries. and in this place i think is a beautiful state that about george washington. this was written by a french man that was an aide that came to valley forge to help washington and this is what she said aboute he saw him. i couldn't keep my eye is from that not severe without familiarity predominant explosion was, through which he could trace the strong feelings of the patriot and discern the father as well as the commander of the soldiers. so i think that is just a
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beautiful way to look at george washington through the eyes of someone that saw him at valley forge. after the war was finally won and it took eight years which washington spent the entire time with his troops without going home for the winter quarters, he was actually given the incredible honor of being the first person to sign the u.s. constitution. now you will notice that it wasn't signed until five years after the war was over to read it was a very difficult and unsettling time, and they had to go through a lot to get this constitution, which put into place only the congress but the presidency and vice presidency, and washington was given the honor of being the first to sign. as the first presidential election came, george washington
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was voted unanimously to be the first president of the united states and in reality there was no other choice but george washington. i write in the book and when i speak i like to set the same, i like to for the readers to feel that moment come see that moment come here that moment, and this is one of those claims in the book i built the scene of all active but of course primary source documents, and at this moment when george washington is going to become the first president to the united states. a crowd is gathered in the intersection of broad street that still exist today, and if you had been there that day you could have looked to the left to see the trinity church which you still can today, and the building that was held in was
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called federal hall. it's not the same that you see today but it's the one that has replaced it. but as the crowd is waiting for george washington on that day, he is driven up in a white couch with six white horses and is let out onto the cobblestone of the intersection there, and the crowd was silent when he gets out and they remove their hats and he removes his and he vows down to the one side and the other until he makes his way. and then in front of the entire crowd, he takes the oath of office from the balcony of the federal hall on, and the crowd just weeks. so, many different people with their including the foreign
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dignitaries come and one of those was a representative of france and this is how she described george washington on that day. he has the figure of a hero united in him. he never seems embarrassed and he has the advantage of mangling great dignity with a sense of manner. so i love to see george washington through the eyes of somebody who was there on that day. as i close my comments today i do love this image that is actually the opposite of the image that is on the book cover. it's of the three george's warned that together and i think they are just absolutely stunning. i would like to mention the amount vernon project to make these three figures was made possible by a grant from the w. reynolds foundation, and it has been an honor for me to have the
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chance to take part in making the story come to life for a new generation of americans, and it's been a treat for me because mount vernon has opened their arms and has been gracious and let me do although research i needed and it's just been a personal thrill for me. so, as we conclude this, i would love to take some questions if you have any. and also, if he would come to the microphone in the center, please, so we can hear if anybody would like to ask a question. >> have you considered writing about any of the president in this manner investigating them and humanizing them and if so do
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you have any particular president in mind the would interest you the most? >> i've never thought of doing it because this project is so unique i'm not sure it will ever be done in this way again, and i always looking for new book ideas, but i don't have any plans for that because this is so unusual, and the reason that works with washington is that he was of course before the days, so the presidents that were alive after photography was around getting a true sense of what they look like, so, you know i like to dig into a new president in the day.
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>> how do you go about thinking your subject matter when you're selecting the books to write about? >> fi each comments a different twist. the head is connected to the neck but because the technology is and then the book something out of nothing came out of that book. the next 1i was interested in holocaust so i found this story of an american holocaust rescuer, then after that came george washington and after that is about the modern technical guys, so they all sort of find me in a way. thank you. >> you started your presentation with some myths that you found out were not true. what did you find out the was particularly interesting in your
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research that you didn't believe before that is true? >> i think there are so many things really. part of what fascinated me in the project was the detail of the length of they went to to read one of the things islam when george washington was 19, he went with his brother to the caribbean because his brother had tuberculosis so she caught smallpox while she was there. for the rest of his life, george washington had smallpox scars on his face. and if you look carefully at the portraits of george washington if you see his left side, you will see the smallpox scars right there. the two older figures of george washington have that marked, and it's interesting to me now that i know that and i look at the
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portraits of washington and see that all of this is in their, so it must of been very obvious, so we think it is one little tiny detail to be about as far as what he did, i had no idea of his involvement in the french and indian war. i had no idea that when he was a very young man, she had a lot of responsibility and he did a lot for the government for virginia and was in the virginia militia, so there was just many things about him i didn't know, and i think washington for me is one of those people but by have researched the more you know about washington, the better he gets. sometimes it's the opposite when if you research someone's life. so he is one of the extraordinary man and i really believe myself that had he not
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been who she was we would not be who we are as a country today. >> if you had a chance in all three of those figures were alive, and you said that each of those or washington's life had become personal to you, which of those would you want to go hog? [laughter] >> young girl george. [laughter] >> and i really partial to a young george washington because i knew absolutely nothing about him in that part of his life, and the idea that he was such a rugged man altered my way of thinking about george washington. i sometimes think about the country song a country boy who can survive.
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that's how i feel about him. he could have survived in the wilderness forever and it was extraordinary, so young george really is my favorite. [laughter] thank you. >> would you talk a little bit about the other research is done on your other books? because you -- your research has been extraordinary but you didn't get to do this by have your name drawn out of a hat to be if you were chosen to do this because of your research, but you've done an enormous amount on your other books. can you talk about that a minute? >> i do a lot of research. when you write the kind of books that i write, they have to be accurate, and i don't believe you can just throw that together, so for every book i've written, i really have done the work in a way that i can be proud of having done, and the
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book the was before this one i'm especially proud of, which is about an american holocaust rescuer whose story is very little known and the fact that he volunteered to go to france and rescue more than 2,000 people, i think it is a story that is amazing and i am sad that very few people know it. so, to do all of that research for the book i went to columbia university where the papers are howls and went through hundreds and hundreds of letters to him and from him, but it was in those letters and it's true for every person that i've ever studied, it's true those letters that you get to know these people. the same is true for marie curie. after a while you start recognizing the way they talk and the way they really did and
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the way they would phrase things. and washington is the same way. after a while they are so familiar they almost become like a friend, because you know the way they put their thoughts together, and was in those letters that i found out the color of the trolleys what he cacique and smell and the fear he saw in the faces of the refugees come it was his words that made him come to life for me. so i think it's a very personal research and to their own words that really makes the difference, and that is what i try to bring. i try to bring that to life, so that again readers can feel it and hear it and smell it and see
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i think that is what a good book should do. >> as much as george washington is portrayed as the father of the country on the dollar bill martha washington is a grandmotherly figure what did you know what interested you is that you think we should know about? >> i had to cut more flat out of the book and so many places it's like an great films on the cutting room floor there's a lot of martial law in the cutting room floor appeared off. i wanted her in the look much more. you'd have to say but the book is about and i did as much as i could. but like i said, my concession pride is that i tell that letter story when i'm out now.
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but i think what i learn about martha is that another myth is people kind of think she married her for her money and a sort of make it different from what i believe it was. i believe that george was lucky to have more fun and martelle was lucky to have george to really think that he was well-known already coming and he was a good catch. she was a very wealthy widow and all of the bachelor's knew all about her and she was a good catch. but i think as time when on the, the truly loved each other, and i think that she is what kept him grounded in a lot of ways. she went to the winter quarters whenever he called, when he wrote to her it's time to come,
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and she would stay until it's time to leave and in that day in case people don't know, they would go in the winter and headed the quarters and they didn't fight battles a lot. so she would come and the soldiers left her, and absolutely everything people sang her praises. she was just what she looks like in the portraits, and i think for george washington he had -- this is an opinion, he had another who was difficult, and i think that he had fallen in love with a woman that was not a good diaz and was already married when he was at a very young age, and so i think that he had a lot of things that martha was like a solace for him.
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i think she was exactly what george washington needed. anything else? >> you kind captured my attention with those teeth and that to big spring it kind of brought me back to breezes which was worse. i can't picture him at this era so who made these false teeth and what were they made out of and all that? did you learn all that? >> i do go into that in the book because it is a fascinating part. the once are shown today, the ones from mount vernon that have the metal, the upper teeth are cowal and horse teeth and the bottom were human teeth but probably not george. the others were carved out of hippopotamus ivory. it was common in the 18th
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century for poor people to sell their teeth and there were dentists who made false teeth, and washington have several pairs of dentures throughout his lifetime, and he was probably buried with one set and so those three that i showed are not the only dentures' he ever had. but there is no question about those. there was quite a bit of dentistry going on far more than i ever would have dreamed before doing this book and with vose teeth and the fact that he lost teeth was a huge part of recreating these figures and that told that she put his face and his shawls which made huge difference to. he's not the only one in his day that didn't have a lot of teeth
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so to be in the public eye as he was and to have dentures like that when he. he had a lot of pain with his teeth it was difficult to. thank you very much for coming to see this presentation tonight and it's been an honor and a privilege. thank you. [applause] now more from little rock. book tv visited the city with the help of our local cable partner comcast of central arkansas. >> nine different people from arkansas they were not all born here but they moved here and they are part of the story of arkansas.
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for the simple, sydney wallace it is fascinating because they're three different interpretations of it in three different ways of explaining it. he lived about 100 miles upstream from the river in a city called clarksville and he was 12-years-old during the civil war when his father vincent wallace had visitors in the last day of the year 1863 and nobody knows what they said the tape shot and killed his father. his mother is now raising him and his brothers along with the help of their former slave there's still servants and according to one version of the story, they just ran wild after the war and it was still western arkansas and they would just basic outlaw scum and there was a traveling salesman outside and his companion came into town and he said was the wallace blaze again, so they went out and said he is the one they picked up and
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brought into town to charged with shooting of the attempted robbery and at that point the jail had been burned down in the war so they were in the second floor of a downtown building and he kicked out the window on the roof of a shed and escapes to and that is when they started in clarksville. the county judge was shot dead and everybody around town was saying it's the wallace blaze again that there were no witnesses. finally they stepped forward and said i saw an ambush waiting for the constables of a went to arrest him again and surrounded the house outside of town and according to the legend the state under the skirts of the family servant and the finally ran him down and captured him to another town and brought him to clarksville and convicted him of the earlier shooting of the salesman, and while said he was in prison and the case was under appeal there was monday that he was up in the second floor and by this time the head of the
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armed guards watching over him. he saw the one man that testified she was waiting in ambush said he grabbed one of his guards and went about the window and shot the man that testified against him and killed him dead in the city streets. sydney and that in the state penitentiary in little rock with the case was under appeal and went to the state supreme court and the governor didn't want to pardon him until march 1874 he was finally hanged for those murders. the legend grows from there because some people say he was an outlaw scum he was hunting down the man who killed his father because they say that the service and he couldn't see the killer people that killed his father. she wasn't going to tell them he was unconscious 21-years-old so nine years later that is when the shooting starts and people say that all he a

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