Billy the Kid By William Zhang

Billy the Kid was a notorious gun-slinging teenager of the wild west. Born as Henry McCarty on November twenty-third of 1959/60, the youngster abandoned his home at an early age and reputedly murdered twenty-seven people before being gunned down at the age of twenty-one. After his death, he has been immortalized in media and films as the image of the wild west gunfighting cowboy.

The perspective offered by Billy's friends contradicts the popular view of Billy as a cool vigilante against the encroachment of civilization. According to Charles L. Ballard, one of Kid's friends, Kid was "not an outlaw in manners - was quiet, but good company always doing something interesting. That was why he had so many friends." In the picture above, Billy (left) is seen playing croquet with a friend (right). In his travels as an outlaw, many of Kid's friends helped him avoid the law and elude capture. However, many others who were not so close thought of Billy as more ruthless. When he broke out of prison, a passerby stated, "...at a call from Billy the Kid, [the guard] looked up and received a volley of shots from his own gun..."

Billy started his infamous career small; at the age of sixteen, he found himself in trouble for the theft of food. six months later, He was arrested and imprisoned for the theft of clothes and firearms. Two days after that, he had escaped from his New Mexico County jail cell and started his life on the run. Around two years later, he had a heated argument with a blacksmith, who would become his first victim.
In 1878, when Billy was just nineteen years old, his boss, John Tunstall, was shot and killed. Billy swore revenge against his murderers. during a massive shootout in Lincoln County, dubbed the "Battle of Lincoln", many of Billy's allies were killed. After the battle, Billy was charged with the murder of three men, captured, and brought to court.
Billy was sentenced to hang, and brought to the Lincoln County Jail. However, he would not give up easily. Before his execution date, he carried out his legendary escape from prison and killed two guards along the way. It wasn't until months later that Sheriff Pat Garrett finally shot and killed Billy the Kid.

Kid was relatively unknown during his lifetime, but tales of his legend exploded upon the publication of his killer's book, The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid. Billy's legacy lasts until this day. His life has been romanticized and inspired many to move and settle West, a place which was viewed as a lawless expanse of opportune land. He has been portrayed in many books, films, and songs as the face of the American Old West. Living at the forefront of the Western frontier, Kid lived a life of an outlaw, running from sheriffs and bounty hunters, and brought a new perspective to outsiders about life in the Wild West.

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