Lizzie Borden - Preface

Lizzie Borden (Illustration) Famous Historical Events Film Social Studies Nineteenth Century Life American History Famous People Trials

Photograph of Lizzie Borden taken in 1889.  Image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lizzie Borden took an axe
Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one

So goes the rhyme many of us learned as school kids. BUT - what was Lizzie really doing on August 4, 1892? Did she viciously kill her father with an axe? (The murder weapon was actually a hatchet.) Did she brutally shatter her stepmother's body?

Her jury didn't think so. Even though the prosecution presented an overwhelming case of circumstantial evidence, Lizzie's jury of twelve men (women couldn't serve as jurors back then) acquitted her.

Some folks think Lizzie's verdict was an early case of "jury nullification" - when the jury ignores plain evidence to reach a result they think is fair. It was said at the time the jury didn't believe a Christian young woman (who taught Sunday School in Fall River, Massachusetts) could have killed her father in such a heinous way.

Other folks think differently. They think Lizzie didn't do it, and the verdict was exactly right. There's even talk Lizzie took the fall for a rumored illegitimate brother.

What do you think? The evidence in this story (including crime scene photos, maps and Lizzie's inquest testimony) will help you answer that question.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: Apr 28, 2015

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"Lizzie Borden" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. May 31, 2020.
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