February 8, 2013
Is David Barton Now Getting His 'History' From Louis L'Amour Novels?
By Chris Rodda
Is David Barton now getting his 'history' from Louis L'Amour novels? A story about students carrying guns to school in the 1800s, which he presented on Glenn Beck's web-based TV show as real history, appears to have come from L'Amour's novel "Bendigo Shafter."
::::::::Thanks to an astute commenter on my post from last week, "A Debunking of Pseudo-Historian David Barton's Book on the Second Amendment," we may now know the source of one of the tales that Barton has been telling to promote the idea that not just teachers -- but students -- should be armed in schools.
I began my post with a few quotes from Barton, one of which was a story he told on Glenn Beck's web-based TV show about a classroom full of gun-toting elementary school children in the 1850s saving their teacher's life by whipping out their guns to stop a gunman who came to their school.
This was the 'historical' account related by Barton told on Beck's show on January 15:
I assumed that Barton was either exaggerating a real story or just making the whole thing up, but since he didn't give any source for the story or enough specifics to fact check it, I thought it would be impossible to find out whether or not there was any truth to it. I didn't even consider that it might have come from a novel, but when a commenter on my previous post noted the striking similarity between Barton's story and a story from the Louis L'Amour novel Bendigo Shafter, I downloaded the Kindle version of the novel and checked it out.
I wasn't about to read an entire Louis L'Amour novel, but read enough to get the gist of the story:
The teacher in L'Amour's novel was Drake Morrell, a gambler and gunfighter who had killed five men. Morrell was sentenced to be hanged in San Francisco, but somehow escaped and ended up in a town in Wyoming, where he became a respected citizen and, of course, the school teacher. But he was still being pursued by a character named Stacy Follett. Years earlier, Morrell had exposed that Follett and his friends were cheating at cards. Two of Follett's friends had confronted Morrell with guns, and Morrell had shot and killed them. Follett caught up with Morrell and went to the school where he was teaching to kill the now respectable school teacher, who was defended by his gun-toting students.
Here's how the character Follett recounted the incident at the school to another character in the book when asked if he had killed Morrell:
Remarkably similar to the story Barton told on Beck's show, isn't it?
So, did Barton get his piece of 'history' from Bendigo Shafter? Only Barton can prove that he didn't. I therefore challenge David Barton to provide a source for the story he told on Beck's show, and have sent the following email to Barton's WallBuilders "research department" to give him the opportunity to do so:
Authors Website: http://www.liarsforjesus.com
Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.