Did you ever learn this ditty when you were a kid?
Lizzie Borden took an ax,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
It's a grim rhyme, no? In case you're not familiar with it, the melody refers to Lizzie Borden, a young woman of late 19th century Massachusetts who was accused of murdering her parents with a ax. She was put on trial and spent nearly a year in prison before eventually being acquitted of the murders. The event might slip off into the lower range of headlines were it to happen today, but in 1892 the trial was sensational with Borden pilloried as a cold, heartless murderer.
While Borden was exonerated, she was assuredly elevated into the psyche of American folklore. Far beyond the dark nursery rhyme above, Borden has also been immortalized with a bed and breakfast, a museum, and a play, to name a few. Most of her lore is predicated on the fact that she was ostracized after her acquittal due to widespread disbelief that she didn't kill her parents. Additionally, no culprit was ever named as the author of the murders.
History may have painted her in cold, remorseless hues but new evidence from her trial lawyer, including the ax that she was accused of using on her parents, have been uncovered that could add some sympathetic depth to Borden. According to ABC news, the Fall River Historical Society received the journals of belonging to Borden's attorney, Andrew Jackson Jennings. The journals include some that letters reveal, contrary to prior belief that Borden's father was a ax-deserving villain, he was actually a caring father who Lizzie Borden cared for deeply.
The man who received the journals, Michael Martins, said, "There was a tremendous outpouring of grief in the letters, and that's a new side to the story." The journals are incredibly aged and fragile, he said, and while he was only able to read portions of it he doesn't believe that the proverbial smoking gun showing Lizzie Borden did in fact murder her parents will be located with their pages.
While the familial ties between Lizzie Borden and her father may turn out to be not as frayed as once believed, the new evidence will likely do nothing in the way of disspelling the haunting legend that encompasses this small moment in history.
Over on ze Twitterz, people were stirring about the news of the journals' discovery.
lizzie borden research paper....... not so fun anymore.
http://t.co/sGHUk9dW She was wacky. Get it? Wacky!Journals of Lizzie Borden's lawyer discovered:
I wish I had been alive in the 1890s to marry a girl like Lizzie Borden. About as sane as most chicks I've met.