A reader of my book has asked, “What is your favorite story about the James family?” I answered as follows:
I have countless favorite stories, including many more that don’t appear in this first volume of Jesse James Soul Liberty, and others yet to appear in the future volumes.
From this first volume, however, I think my favorite would be the story of Daniel Lewis James Jr. It’s my favorite because Dan’s story synthesizes both the fundamental character and personality shared among the James family . Dan typifies the James family’s bent for social integration, progress, equality, and personal liberty, combined with pro-active championing that is intent on bringing about social change. Dan’s story also demonstrates that no matter how good the intentions of a James family member may be, social persecution will follow.
Based on Dan’s chapter in my book, a play by an award-winning Hispanic playwright, Carlos Murillo, was commissioned By Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater, and a production now waits. Also, a book now is being written about him by one of Dan’s former Hispanic protégé. I’ve even had calls from a Hollywood production company about doing a television series about Dan’s life.
My next volume will show how this shared character among the James family showed itself in Frank & Jesse’s grandfather, John M. James, in the period between the American Revolution and leading up to the establishment of the U.S. banking system. The anti-bank sentiment of Frank & Jesse James did not just magically appear to national effect. It was born in the genes of the outlaw brothers.