Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America

Star Spangled Scandal: Sex, Murder, and the Trial that Changed America

by Chris DeRose


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"True crime fans will relish this thoughtful look at a murder and its aftermath that riveted a nation."

Publisher's Weekly book review

"There may be no two more addicting topics to people right now than politics and true crime. Star Spangled Scandal delves into both of these—with a heavy dose of sex added in."

— NPR book review

“… and sir I do assure you he has as much the use of your wife as you have.”

— From an anonymous note delivered to Congressman Daniel Sickles on February 24, 1859

It is two years before the Civil War, and Congressman Daniel Sickles and his lovely wife Teresa are popular fixtures in Washington, D.C. society. Their house sits on Lafayette Square across from White House grounds, and the president himself is godfather to the Sickles’ six-year-old daughter. Because Congressman Sickles is frequently out of town, he trusts his friend, U.S. Attorney Philip Barton Key—son of Francis Scott Key—to escort the beautiful Mrs. Sickles to parties in his absence. Revelers in D.C. are accustomed to the sight of the congressman’s wife with the tall, Apollo-like Philip Barton Key, who is considered “the handsomest man in all Washington society… foremost among the popular men of the capital.”

Then one day an anonymous note sets into motion a tragic course of events that culminates in a shocking murder in broad daylight in Lafayette Square.

This is the riveting true story of the murder and trial that sparked a national debate on madness, male honor, female virtue, fidelity, and the rule of law. Bestselling author Chris DeRose (The Presidents’ War) uses diary entries, letters, newspaper accounts, and eyewitness testimonies to bring the characters to thrilling life in this antebellum true crime history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621578055
Publisher: Regnery History
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 468,253
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Chris DeRose is a bestselling author, former law professor, and a public official in Arizona, currently serving as Maricopa County Clerk of the Superior Court. He is the author of Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill or Rights, and the Election that Saved a Nation, The Presidents’ War, and Congressman Lincoln: The Making of America’s Greatest President.

Table of Contents

Overture-Opening Night xi

Act I The Washington Tragedy xiii

Chapter 1 A Reckless Galety 1

Chapter 2 "A Skeleton Sketch of My Life" 9

Chapter 3 Teresa 17

Chapter 4 Men of Force and Originality 21

Chapter 5 A Key of the Keys of Maryland 29

Chapter 6 A Violent Year 37

Chapter 7 The President's Park 45

Chapter 8 The Investigation 49

Chapter 9 New Latitudes 55

Chapter 10 Vile Calumnies 59

Chapter 11 The Last Dance 63

Chapter 12 No. 383 15th Street 69

Chapter 13 An Improper Interview 75

Chapter 14 Sunday in Lafayette Square 81

Intermezzo 95

Chapter 15 Special by Magnetic Telegraph 97

Chapter 16 The Day After 107

Chapter 17 For the Defense, Part 1 111

Chapter 18 Funeral Rites 115

Chapter 19 Teresa, Part 2 119

Chapter 20 Revenge of the Keys 121

Chapter 21 Beekman Returns 125

Chapter 22 Sickles in the Pulpit 129

Chapter 23 Aria 133

Chapter 24 Seeing the News 139

Chapter 25 Another Sickles Affair 143

Chapter 26 Deliberations of the Grand Jury 147

Chapter 27 A Life for Sale 153

Chapter 28 For the Defense, Part 2 157

Act II The Trial of Daniel E. Sickles for the Murder of Philip Barton Key 163

Chapter 29 Twelve Dispassionate Men 165

Chapter 30 A Carnival of Blood 177

Chapter 31 The Implements of Death 187

Chapter 32 The Atonement of John Graham 191

Chapter 33 The Queen Against Daniel M'Naghten 199

Chapter 34 The Libertine Punished 203

Chapter 35 A Thrilling Scene 213

Chapter 36 The Confession 219

Chapter 37 Give Vent to Your Tears 225

Chapter 38 An Intense and Sudden Excitement 233

Chapter 39 "John B. Haskin, Salad and Champagne" 241

Chapter 40 "Revelations Respecting the Intercourse Between Key and Mrs. Sickles" 249

Chapter 41 "Conclusion of the Evidence for the Defense" 255

Chapter 42 "Curious Anonymous Letters Received by the Counsel and Jury" 261

Chapter 43 "The Case Drawing to a Close" 269

Chapter 44 "The Testimony Closed" 273

Chapter 45 "Address of Mr. James T. Brady for the Defence" 279

Chapter 46 Recalled to Life 285

Chapter 47 An Appropriate Finale to the Sickles Tragedy 295

Chapter 48 Excelsior 301

Chapter 49 The Unwritten Law 305

Epilogue: Ghosts of New York 319

Acknowledgments 323

Notes 327

Index 347

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