Fall River Outrage: Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England

Fall River Outrage: Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England

Fall River Outrage: Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England

Fall River Outrage: Life, Murder, and Justice in Early Industrial New England

Synopsis

Fall River Outrage recounts one of the most sensational and widely reported murder cases in early nineteenth-century America. When, in 1832, a pregnant mill worker was found hanged, the investigation implicated a prominent Methodist minister. Fearing adverse publicity, both the industrialists of Fall River and the New England Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church engaged in energetic campaigns to obtain a favorable verdict. It was also one of the earliest attempts by American lawyers to prove their client innocent by assassinating the moral character of the female victim. Fall River Outrage provides insight in American social, legal, and labor history and women's studies.

Excerpt

At nine o'clock on Friday morning, December 21, 1832, John Durfee took his team from the barn and headed down through the sloping fields of his father's farm toward Mount Hope Bay. the weather of the past few days had been unusually bitter, and the fog -- last year's uncut grass -- snapped under his boots and his horses' hooves whenever they strayed from the well-worn paths. As Durfee directed his animals across the stack yard where his winter's supply of hay was stored, he noticed an unfamiliar shape huddled against one of the poles supporting the movable roof of the haystack. Suspended from a cord was the cold body of a young woman, her cheek pressed against the rough wood, her toes resting on the ground, and her knees partially bent as though she were frozen in the act of kneeling for prayer.

Momentarily forgetting his team, Durfee ran to the body. the dead woman's hair was wildly disheveled, and the young farmer had to brush it aside to view her face. Relieved to discover she was a stranger, Durfee looked up the hill toward his home for aid. From the stack yard only three vacant windows of the house were visible. Fortunately, Durfee's father, Richard, was standing in the doorway and heard his son's urgent shouts. Hurrying toward the sound, the older man reached the haystack in the company of Benjamin Negus . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.