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Murder of Philip Barton Key, an early report...



Item # 575877

March 4, 1859

WILMINGTON JOURNAL, North Carolina, March 4, 1859  Page 2 has an historic first report of the famous Sickles-Key murder with a column headed: "Terrific Tragedy at Washington--Philip Barton Key Shot Dead by Hon. Daniel E. Sickles". The coverage is extensive with other heads: "Alleged Cause of the Tragedy" "The Sickles & Key Tragedy" "The Lafayette Square Tragedy" "The Tragedy in Washington" and "Latest of the Sickles Tragedy". See the photos for portions of the reports.
Daniel Sickles' murder of Philip Barton Key was the kind of crime that piqued the interest of many, captivating the nation's press. Not even the most high-browed Victorian could ignore a killing that occurred in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon on the sidewalk surrounding Lafayette Park, literally so near the White House it could have been witnessed from its front windows.
The accused, Dan Sickles, was a prominent and well-connected Congressman from New York with a hair-trigger temper and a reputation as a ladies' man. The victim, Barton Key, was not only a close friend of his killer, but he also was the son of Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star Spangled Banner". He was described as "the handsomest man in all Washington society" by the city's most prominent hostess and biggest gossip, Mrs. Clement Clay. But it was the motive that added the most spice to the story. Sickles gunned Key down after discovering that he and the beautiful 22-year-old Mrs. Sickles had been having an affair, at times carrying on in the front library of the Sickles home. The trial was also noteworthy for being the first case to use the temporary insanity plea.
Four pages, very nice condition. Several runaway slave reward ads as well.

Category: Pre-Civil War

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