Cathy, first let me say that this sort of discussion is what I have wanted for so long. Soapy deserves it as his history is so far more interesting than most of the historical old west characters of his time.
My book contains several chapters on the shootout on Juneau Wharf, including most of the different versions of how it took place and who shot who. In the end my conclusion follows the reasonable evidence that Murphy shot Soapy while he was down on the ground, wounded and unarmed.
While you seem to want to concentrate on the legend (what people wrote that wasn't true), and why it came to be, I am more interested in the actual historical facts, that which is true. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the legendary stories and report them on my blog. However, I don't let them influence the facts.
Regarding a previous discussion about who you believe killed Soapy I mentioned that make it clear that you believe Reid did. Here's what I am referring to,
"According to The Skaguay News, dated July 8, 1898, city surveyor Frand[sic] Reid did. The newspaper repeated that story, word for word in their next issue on July 15, 1898, adding only updates on what had occurred in the days since, including the results of the coroner's inquest. The nine-man jury of leading citizens found that Smith died of a bullet wound to the heart, "the result of a pistol shot by one Frank H. Reid." These court-appointed jurists interviewed eye-witnesses and made their decisions under an oath of law.
Note: This makes it official. Reid killed Smith, according to a legal finding by a duly established court of law. Second-guessing by anyone outside a court of law over a hundred years later is an academic excercise[sic]."
I believe that after reading the above anyone would logically come to the conclusion that you believe Frank Reid killed Soapy Smith. If this is incorrect then perhaps you might want to rewrite this.
In regards to the legal term of murder little has changed since 1898. I too have discussed the issue with the police and legal representatives. Then as now, shooting a wounded unarmed man who is on the ground is considered murder. Soapy was on the ground and wounded. Once Murphy took Soapy's rifle away he ended the threat to himself and others. Therefore shooting him was technically murder. I'm not saying Murphy would have been convicted. Certainly there are varying degrees of murder considering the situation, however, then, as now, Murphy should have been arrested and held, possibly even made to appear on charges. Those legal details were to be decided by the courts, not the vigilantes.
"He was also not in the same league as the big-time "gamblers" in Skagway, such as George Rice, Lee Guthrie, and Frank Clancy, all of whom owned large gambling houses throughout the North, and all of whom gave their customers a chance of winning. Soapy's operation concentrated on con games and shills along the trails and in the streets. His skill was in the sure-thing games and protection of his gang."
This clearly shows me that you do not understand Soapy Smith and how he and his world operated. Nor do you understand how Rice, Guthrie and the Clancy brothers operated. As I have said to you before, you need to read ALL of my book in order to fully comprehend who Soapy Smith was and how he built his empires. I can understand why you believe as you do because you have only read the Skagway sections of my book. That is a great mistake. You believe, just as many who saw Soapy for the first time in Skagway, that he looked like a common businessman. That was always Soapy's persona. His world was behind the scenes, as a fixer. There are no minutes or records kept in those behind closed doors sessions. They weren't published in the newspapers, except for some of their outcomes. Simply put, you underestimate Soapy.
Okay, its a complicated subject that takes up more than a chapter in my book, but here's a quick preview. Remember, you asked for it. I review both versions of what happened: the theory that Frank... more
Murphy is murderer Jeff Smith,Sat Oct 29 11:19pm
I am interested in legend because I am an anthropologist before I am a historian. I understand that myth influences popular understanding of fact and can so warp the way people "remember" events that ... more
You wrote, "I understand that myth influences popular understanding of fact and can so warp the way people "remember" events that fact and legend very quickly become merged. The bigger the legend,... more
Ah, maybe now I'm beginning to understand some of the basic roots of our inability to speak the same language. You see facts and history as identical: facts being the puzzle pieces that create the... more
Cathy, I don't believe you understand me as much as you think you do. I do not, as you say, see facts and history as identical. In our conversations we are discussing Skagway and Soapy Smith history. ... more
Ah, yes, I think you may deliberately either gloss over or deliberately miss my point. I do NOT use the dictionary definitions of myth and legend in my book. As I said before, I use definitions taken ... more
Hi, Cathy. You wrote, "Ah, yes, I think you may deliberately either gloss over or deliberately miss my point. I do NOT use the dictionary definitions of myth and legend in my book. As I said before,... more
It looks like my earlier answer to your inquiry about an electronic copy of my Chris Shea piece got lost in that long answer I wrote early this morning that disappeared in the ethernet. I don't have... more
Point 1: Academic discussions. I got a Doctorate in Philosophy with a specialty in Anthropology. One of the things such a degree confirms upon its recipient is give one license to engage in academic... more
I congratulate you on obtaining your degree. I do not disrespect that, however, your degree does not come with the right to change definitions form the acclaimed Oxford dictionary. In the long run... more