No Spark of Malice: The Murder of Martin Begnaudby William Arceneaux
On April 22, 1896, the forty-five-year-old Begnaud was brutally murdered in his general store in
No Spark of Malice is the riveting tale of the impact Martin Begnaud's murder and the ensuing trial had on his large and prominent family, on the Acadians--or "Cajuns"--of southwest Louisiana, and on the village of Scott Station at the end of the nineteenth century.
On April 22, 1896, the forty-five-year-old Begnaud was brutally murdered in his general store in rural Scott Station, Louisiana. He was bound, gagged, blindfolded, stabbed more than fifty times, and robbed of several thousand dollars. Such sensational events were not supposed to occur in hamlets like Scott Station, and word of the gruesome crime circulated quickly through the largely Acadian parish and all of south Louisiana.
Two men were soon arrested for the killing. But the evidence against them was purely circumstantial, and as the suspects insisted on their innocence through months of harsh treatment, some observers began to believe the true murderers were still at large. Ten months after Begnaud's death, the initial widespread shock and hysteria reemerged when the teenage Blanc brothers, Ernest and Alexis, were arrested for the crime. Polite, educated, and popular, the Blancs were orphans from France who had worked on a local plantation.
To relate vividly the effects of this defining event, William Arceneaux sets the story against the back-drop of Acadian history from the 1604 establishment of a French colony in the Canadian maritime provinces to le Grand Derangement, the ruthless expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia during the French and Indian War. He also examines the arrival of the Acadian diaspora in the then-Spanish colony of Louisiana and the eventual creation of a "New Acadia" among its swamps, marshes, river valleys, and prairies.
The aftermath of the murder of Martin Begnaud resulted in one of the most electrifying trials in the history of the American South. There was high courtroom drama, frontier-style, with a cast of unforgettable characters, and the fate of the Blanc brothers received international attention. By intertwining a suspenseful account of a murder and its repercussions with a thorough analysis of the history of the citizens the crime most affected, No Spark of Malice provides insight into a fascinating yet overlooked people, place, and era.
- Louisiana State University Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.46(w) x 9.44(h) x 1.19(d)
Meet the Author
William Arceneaux is president of the Louisiana Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and author of Acadian General Alfred Mouton and the Civil War, winner of the Jefferson Davis Medal. He lives in Baton Rouge.
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Excellent story of late 1800's in Cajun Louisiana. Ties in with wonderful history of the area and how the Cajun people came to be in Southwestern Louisiana. Intrigue is woven with actual truth and history of the BEGNAUD family. But also relates to what goes on with our youth of today and how they think murder is so insignificant for profit and gain. Human nature NEVER changes.