On August 4, 1892, a prominent man in Fall River, Massachusetts, was hacked to death in his home, along with his wife. You probably know his daughter’s name: Lizzie Borden.

This reminder comes courtesy of the New York Times’ Times Machine:

Of course, attention quickly turned to Lizzie, the “spinster” daughter. And while she was ultimately acquitted (right or wrong) in a court of law, everybody knows how she fared in the court of public opinion. (“Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother forty wacks...”)

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And frankly, knowing the date probably says something about why she became such a national phenomenon. Sure, sure, a shocking crime against a well-to-do man and a narrative that offended every possible nineteenth-century American sensibility about women. But there’s also fuck-all news in August, and heat makes people restless. Her trial also commenced almost a year later, in June. Nothing catches the eye quite like a really sensational summertime murder, unless it’s a sensational summertime court case.


Contact the author at kelly@jezebel.com.

Photo via AP Images.

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