Posts Tagged ‘Frank Walworth’

Murder and Scandal in the Gilded Age

September 10th, 2010 No comments

51R1KKsoqCL._SL160_Library of America editor in chief Geoffrey O’Brien mines a trove of historical records and documents to illustrate the real-life events surrounding the 1873 murder of Mansfield Walworth in The Fall of the House of Walworth: A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age America (Henry Holt, 337 pgs). During the summer of 1873, Mansfield was shot by his 18-year old son, Frank, in a hotel room in New York city. Frank immediately surrendered to police and a murder trial followed amid a flurry of media attention. The burning interest of the press was stoked by the prominence of the Walworth family in the city of Saratoga Springs, NY. Mansfield’s father, Judge Walworth, had built his fortune and cemented the family’s elite status in the courtroom, but Mansfield’s erratic and violent behavior towards his wife and children, and the homicidal actions of his son tarnished the family name. Mansfield had long abused his wife, Ellen, and even after they divorced, wrote her letters threatening physical harm and even death. O’Brien argues that Frank killed his father in order to protect his mother from further harm.
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