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...”)
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.
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