Joyce, you're making a whole lot of assumptions and judgments here that are based upon conclusions that frankly were not possible for most people on the ground at the time. I certainly am not prepared to say that he was "not a true servant of God," or that his sincerity and opinions must be questioned any more than any other eyewitness. Who has said that his position as a clergyman entitles him to more weight as an observer? He was young, privileged, educated, and in a new environment. He gravitated toward those people who welcomed him and helped him to build a church (and frankly toward people with whom he had more in common in terms of education and privilege). That does not make him either a fraud or a hypocrit. In fact, I'd say that makes him very normal as a human being and as a clergyman. All I know for sure is that he lived a dedicated life of service and brought a hard-nosed sense of responsibility to a distinguished career teaching young men to become leaders. He wasn't Mother Theresa, but he was a person who made a difference.
I would suggest that you are questioning his spirituality and his sincerity because what he thought and said are inconvenient and messy for your point of view. You line up your witnesses and rate them according to where they stand on the position you've already taken. You have to look for reasons to find fault with Peabody. I see plenty of evidence in his diary that he was uncomfortable with what was going on, that he was conflicted and troubled by it. People are rarely insincere in their diaries. They may be misinformed or emotional, but that merely reveals their humanity.
I don't understand your point "that Peabody's viewpoint was likely more built on the views of the company he kept rather than first hand knowledge and experience." If you mean that he was not in the saloon when Morgan was killed or that he wasn't in on the vendetta ride, then of course you're right, but he WAS in Tombstone and he did have the pulse of the community with which he worked. Virtually all of the people in Tombstone other than the Earps themselves and the Clantons and their friends had viewpoints "built on the views of the company [they] kept." There is a difference between eyewitness testimony and first hand knowledge. What contemporary sources meet your criteria for reliability? What is your standard?
Peabody arrived in Tombstone in January 1882. He takes a room in the Grand Hotel. He sees the men in the street. He hears the rumors. He listens to the people he meets. Judge Stilwell gives him a history of what has happened--the cowboy problem, the street fight, and the assassination attempt on the life of Virgil Earp. He hangs out with people who support the former marshal and his brothers. He's there in Tombstone when Morgan is assassinated. He listens to his friends talk about what is going on. He's troubled by the violence. He's troubled by reports of what the Earps do. He believes they should leave Arizona. What in that is hard to understand? It seems to me that Peabody's opinions were formed in the self-same way that everybody else's opinions are formed.
"True justice?" Who was the arbiter of true justice in Tombstone? The backshooters who gunned down Virgil Earp in the dead of night from hiding? The murderers who killed Morgan Earp and tried to kill Wyatt through the back-door windows once more in the dead of night? Ike Clanton, whose "code" you "understand?" I don't get it. Reverend Peabody knew about those "brave" acts on the part of the cowboys. He also was there when Breakenridge's posse shot it out with Grounds and Hunt. He was there at the time of the Peel murder. He knew the mood of the town. He felt the tension in the street.
I submit that these things constituted an ample and reasonable basis for Peabody to conside "cowboy criminality" the greater threat. And while Peabody did not approve of the Earps' course and even chided his friends for contributing to their cause, given what had happened, he understood both their motivation and the reasons the Earps were supported by others.
You're willing to excuse Ike for not accepting Wyatt's offer to end the troubles, ignore the effort that Wyatt made to resign as deputy U. S. marshal, and the plain fact that Behan's relationship with the cowboys was a contemporary issue. Given the history of what had happened in Tombstone since the street fight, what truly fair-minded peace officer would have picked John Ringo and Phin Clanton as possemen? Is that any more responsible than choosing Sherm McMaster and Texas Jack as possemen? If, at this point, Earp's purposes were mainly personal, as I'm inclined to believe, then shouldn't Behan have maintained a higher standard to show that his purposes weren't?
The criticism of Behan rested upon more than "some petty thing." Why did Sylvester Comstock have his name removed from Behan's bond as sheriff? Why was he not reelected as Sheriff? Peabody came to share the contempt that the men he knew felt for Behan. Behan might have been the hero in the Tombstone story if he had taken the high ground. He didn't. He became a partisan, plain and simple. Nothing more. He chose to take a side rather than to take a stand.
But I digress. The criticisms you make of Peabody you can make of any contemporary witness. Their opinions were all the products of their associations, relationships, attitudes, and experiences. They were no different than us. Certainly the fact that Peabody was a latecomer to Tombstone, certainly the fact that he associated with bankers and businessmen and Republicans, certainly the fact that he was an Easterner somewhat infatuated with the idea of the "West," and certainly his own sense of right and wrong, his version of "muscular Christianity" shaped how he responded to Tombstone. You may disagree with his opinions if you choose, but you don't have to attack his character and his standing as "a true servant of God" to do that.
You seem to have a need to discredit everyone who disagrees with you. I'm not sure what Peabody could have done (other than damning the Earps to hell and disassociating himself from all of his friends) that would satisfy you. But where does this need to judge Peabody as a person come from? There's no reason in the world why you can't simply accept that he was what he was, an observer who was there at the time, an observer who reflected the point of view of one prominent group in Tombstone. That's all you need to do. You can point out the limitations of his comments without making him a hypocrit and fraud, IF you have the evidence to make your case on the merits. In fact, that this good man held the views he held helps to explain the situation in Tombstone, whether you agree with his observations or not.
You're overlooking the plain fact that Peabody's comments did not constitute a blanket endorsement of the Earps. If I accepted your views, I would choose, rather, to point out that Peabody's comments reflected a growing sentiment that the Earps should leave because the violence was getting out of hand. I would argue that such views by a man who, in principle, had supported the Earps in a stand against "cowboy criminality" and assassination, could not stomach the vendetta. For me, that is a more powerful argument of your case than to have to make Peabody a a weak-kneed hypocrit, "a little short of the requirements that would make him a true servant of God." That is a judgment I'd leave to God. Best! Gary
Hello Gary, There's a great deal of merit in what you say and much I have to agree with. But you do make my point that Peabody's viewpoint was likely more built on the views of the company he kept... more
What price judgment? Gary Roberts,Mon Jul 21 08:32
Most will agree that Soapy Smith was not one of the "good" guys...yet in my research there are at least two priests that had good things to say about the man...and not so good things about lawmen.... more
I think that we are all forgetting that my comments and critical evaluations are based on and should be contained in the context of a discussion on the opening post from Tucson Bernie. Here Peabody,... more
in your posts you didn't disagree with Cindy and suggest that she overstated the case; you attacked Peabody. That led inevitably to the rest. And I fail to see what in Peabody's behavior in Tombstone ... more