Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was born this day… in 1848. A ruthless self-promoter, Earp lived long enough to see his legend cemented in popular culture. Much of the story was laid out in his ghost-written biography, “Wyatt Earp; Frontier Marshall”
Words associated with the Earp legend… justice, law, honor, peacemaker….are difficult to remove from popular culture; History is not nearly as flattering. Earp was first and foremost a capitalist, looking for new and more efficient ways to manipulate frontier economic conditions. Earp and his extended family were masters at separating miners, cowboys, and settlers from their hard-earned western cash. Wearing the badge shielded Earp and his brothers from scrutiny as they eliminated competition to their gambling, saloon, and prostitution enterprises.
There is no doubt that Wyatt Earp was a man of action… accounts from contemporaries like Bat Masterson, Luke Short, Charlie Bassett, and John Clum all indicate a fearless individual who never shied from a confrontation. But does this no-nonsense attitude amount to true heroism?