Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Redhead of the Week

Lizzie Andrew Borden (1860 - 1927) is remembered chiefly as the subject of this anonymous American nursery rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

On August 4, 1892, Lizzie and Bridget Sullivan, the maid of the household, discovered the corpses of Mr. Andrew J. Borden and Abby Gray Borden, Lizzie's father and his second wife. Both had been slain by multiple axe blows. The Bordens were one of the wealthiest and most prominent families of Fall River, Massachusetts.

A circumstantial case against Lizzie was made, without any identification of a murder weapon and no incriminating physical evidence such as bloodstained clothes. The case against Lizzie was based mostly on the testimony of a pharmacist that said that Lizzie had attempted to purchase prussic acid, a form of cyanide, and that a neighbour had seen her burning a dress.

Borden's trial occurred in June of 1893. It took two weeks, a quite long time for the period. On June 20, 1893, after ninety minutes of deliberation, the jury acquitted Lizzie of the crime.

Although acquitted of the crime, many people believed that she had done it and ostracized her. Later in life, Lizzie changed her name to Lizbeth and became somewhat eccentric. She died of complications from gall bladder surgery in 1927, at the age of sixty-six.

Thanks to Lizzie, her mean father, and INDOPEDIA


Dr. Stef said...

According to Lizzie's passport application, her hair color was not red as some have said. It was "light brown." Sorry to say, the redhead idea is apocryphal.

Since you don't mention her hair color anywhere other than your title, perhaps you are just poking fun at the photo you include and not referring to her actual hair color?

Austin Carr said...

Gee, Doc, are you sure? We found Lizzie on the Famous Redheads website. Maybe she dyed her hair for the passport application.

We have a great fondness for the truth, so thanks for raising doubts. Our readers (Hi Mom!) needed to hear this, but in the future, could you leave out the big words? I hate having to look stuff up.