May 21, 2015

A Deadly Affair

Alexis Coe on the first successful use of the insanity defense in U.S. law, by a U.S. Congressman, no less, after he stood trial for murdering his wife's lover. Read her account here of Daniel Sickles' killing of Philip Barton Key (son of Francis Scott Key) in Lapham's Quarterly. More about the case here at the website Murder by Gaslight.

The lady in question: Teresa Bagioli Sickles (1836-1867). Her mother was the daughter of librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. She and General Sickles married when she was a teenager and he was in his early thirties.

Selected bibliography:

Brandt, Nat,  The Congressman Who Got Away With Murder (Syracuse: University of Syracuse Press, 1991).

Keneally, Thomas,  American Scoundrel: The Life of the Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickles (NY: Doubleday, 2002).

Also see:

Extended bibliography available here.

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