From anger to jealousy: explaining domestic homicide in antebellum America.
Abstract: This essay argues that in the sensational 1859 trial of Daniel Sickles for the murder of his wife's lover, Philip Barton Key, jealousy appeared, for the first time, as a normative masculine emotion and as instinct--as, moreover, integral to marital love and as a legitimate explanation for domestic violence. Although Sickles' lawyers presented their client's jealous rage as thoroughly understandable--indeed, inevitable--their narrative represented a break with legal precedent, with case after case of domestic homicide in which jealousy was either absent or was present only to be condemned as a vicious passion. Instead, through the first few decades of the nineteenth century, anger, not jealousy, routinely appeared as the principal cause of troubled relations between husbands and wives. In articulating the legal pre-history of the Sickles trial this essay discloses that jealousy, purportedly innate within men, was absent: earlier cases reveal that in fact jealousy was not a shared property of men and hardly ever a motive of domestic homicide. Cases prior to Sickles are also bereft of romantic love and of apotheosized domestic life, twinned ideals that formed an integral part of the emergence of jealousy as inevitable and excusable in Daniel Sickles' trial.
Article Type: Essay
Subject: Family violence (Psychological aspects)
Homicide (Analysis)
Crimes of passion (Psychological aspects)
Jealousy (Analysis)
Marriage (Psychological aspects)
Author: Keetley, Dawn
Pub Date: 12/22/2008
Publication: Name: Journal of Social History Publisher: Journal of Social History Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: History; Sociology and social work Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Journal of Social History ISSN: 0022-4529
Issue: Date: Winter, 2008 Source Volume: 42 Source Issue: 2
Product: Product Code: 9101226 Domestic Violence (Families) NAICS Code: 92219 Other Justice, Public Order, and Safety Activities
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 191688756
Full Text: In 1859, on a peaceful Sunday in the nation's capital and in front of numerous shocked witnesses, New York Congressman Daniel Sickles shot and killed United States District Attorney Philip Barton Key. Sickles had just learned of Key's longstanding affair with his wife, Teresa, and, in a moment of supreme had timing, the unlucky paramour walked in front of their house trying to signal her. The subsequent trial was one of the most sensational of the antebellum period--and, in the end, against all odds and the letter of the written Law, Sickles' numerous creative lawyers managed to get him acquitted. They did so by offering up to thousands of avid onlookers and readers the radical new idea that jealousy, even violent jealousy, was an instinct--seeded in man by God and irrevocably a part of his human nature. Because instinct lay by definition outside of reason's domain, a man could not be held accountable for following its dictates: "Man in his animal instincts," lawyer James Brady proclaimed, "is no more capable of controlling within him the laws which the Almighty has planted there than the inferior animals." "Jealousy is the rage of a man," Sickles' lawyers repeated throughout the trial, and, because by this logic their client acted as any man would on discovering his wife's infidelity, he could not be condemned. (1)

Historians who have discussed the Sickles trial have scanted the importance of jealousy, arguing instead that the trial was important either for its adumbration of masculine honor (according to Hendrik Hartog) or (in Robert Ireland's view) of antebellum concepts of insanity. (2) What has not been discussed is that in this trial, for the first time, jealousy was inscribed as a shared masculine emotion and as instinct--and it was, moreover, cast as integral, rather than opposed, to marital love; it was also offered as a compelling explanation for domestic violence. Before Sickles killed Key, jealousy was certainly considered a potential cause of violence but it came up rarely and never as either normative or instinctual--always as a vicious passion that men should control, incited mostly by dereliction of religious duty or alcohol. And it was anger, not jealousy, which routinely appeared as the predominant cause of troubled and even violent relations between husbands and wives. If the Sickles trial defined the new centrality, by 1859, of jealousy to both marriage and domestic homicide, the 1806 case of John Banks exemplified earlier conceptions of marital violence: Banks was tried for killing his wife in an outburst of anger because she refused to cook him eggs and peanuts--because she flouted, in his eyes, her wifely duty. (3) The claims of Sickles' lawyers for the innateness of jealousy were belied, moreover, not only by that emotion's absence in earlier trials, but also by the rather transparent dependence of those claims on an idealized social and cultural construction: before Sickles could be insanely jealous of his wife and devastated by the loss of her and his family, both wife and family had to be rendered sacred--their love framed as fundamental to his happiness, his inner peace, and, indeed, his very self.

The narrative that explained Sickles' violence--a narrative of an instinctive masculine jealousy bound to love and home--embodies a fantasy that is repeated after 1859 and that pretends to a persistence through time that is in fact absent. Joan Scott has usefully described what she calls the fantasy scenario, which "substitutes (or stands in) for historical change." The repetition of fantasy, she continues, "replaces history (or is conflated with it)"--substituting the reiteration of an unchanging story for the messy changeability of history. (4) Historians, in particular, should be ever mindful of the human tendency to shape fantasies and then to misconstrue them as history. Resisting the seductions of powerful recurrent fantasies, scholars of the past, Scott insists, should explore the "tension between the temporality of historical narrative (which carries with it notions of irreducible difference in time) and its condensation in recurring scenarios (which seem to deny that difference)." (5) Indeed, the righteously and violently jealous man, a narrative told often after the Sickles trial, hides the fact that the story it tells has not always been true in exactly the same way; it hides, in other words, its own uneven history. Scott claims that fantasy's condensations contain precisely such a "temporal inexactness" as they work "to conceal or minimize difference through repetition." (6) When his lawyers insisted that Sickles acted out of a jealousy that was, according to Proverbs, "the rage of a man," they were attempting to show how Sickles' emotions and actions were timeless iterations of a divinely ordained law of necessity. (7) But their words promote fantasy rather than articulate historical truth--for the history of what Sickles felt and did was not a rehearsal of a timeless scenario. Instead, what he did was embedded in a real and discontinuous history.

Stories shaped around a central emotion are particularly liable to be rendered as what Scott calls fantasy, because emotions are so often considered immutable--not bound by the exigencies of history, which, as Scott reminds us, "carries with it notions of irreducible difference in time." (8) Indeed, the efforts of Sickles' lawyers to cast jealousy as instinct is an explicit effort to make it, and the actions it generates, unchanging--inevitable. When Sickles' lawyers likened humans to other animals, all animated by the same instinct, they heralded a notion of jealousy that not only influenced other nineteenth-century murder trials but that continues to hold sway today. In his recent The Dangerous Passion: Why jealousy is as Necessary as Love and Sex, for instance, evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss argues that jealousy is a highly useful adaptation, "a coping device passed down over millennia," that enables men to ward off numerous threats to their survival--notably rivals for both their mate's affection and the paternity of their children. (9) Buss describes jealousy as timeless instinctual knowledge, as "emotional wisdom, not consciously articulated, passed down to us over millions of years by our successful forebears"; jealousy, he continues, is "a form of ancestral wisdom." Aligning the unconscious motives of prehistorical and contemporary man, Buss echoes the claims of Sickles' lawyer, James Brady, about jealousy's being "an instinct which the Almighty has implanted in every animal or creature that crawls the earth." Each of them denies difference in time and instead creates a narrative about the repetition of the same--about the perpetual recurrence of the wisdom of jealousy through millenia. (10) This essay will interrogate the fantasy of instinctual jealous violence promoted in the Sickles trial (and subsequently), arguing for the countervailing view that emotions have histories. Emotions are not, as Joel Pfister eloquently puts it, "timeless givens which sprout from the soil of an eternal 'inner self " but are "culturally structured experiences, interpretations, and performances of the self." (11) Emotions are inextricable from the narratives told about them--and those narratives are historically contingent.

As well as articulating a particular slice of the history of emotion in the U.S., this essay confirms the findings of many historians that by the early nineteenth century, Americans had come to put a much greater premium on powerful romantic love as the cornerstone of marriage. But far from love's driving a less violent society, as one might perhaps expect, this fundamental change in the family seemed to augur more violence within the home's sacred walls. (12) The emergence of jealousy as defined by the Sickles trial--instinctual, an immutable and shared possession of men, bound to love, and a spur to men's involuntary violence--is crucial to the paradoxically twinned progression of romantic love and familial violence in the nineteenth century and beyond: it became conceivable that a man could and would kill out of love, not only out of anger. (13) While the Sickles trial strove to naturalize an intertwined love and violent jealousy, projecting both back to the very onset of human life, this essay argues that the marriage of love, jealousy, and violence has a history--that marital bonds were not inevitably founded on great love, that love and jealousy appeared as inevitably intertwined only as love became increasingly integral to marriage, and that violence was bound up with love only as the latter emotion became a more critical aspect of men's sense of self. In the end, it is difficult to say whether the vision of jealousy articulated in the Sickles trial meant that men were actually feeling more intense and violent jealousy as the nineteenth century progressed, but its presence in high profile criminal cases certainly worked effectively to rationalize the contradiction confronted by a culture that increasingly valued love while increasingly experiencing its violent culmination. (14) And, indeed, Scott has argued that a principal function of the fantasy scenario is to reconcile contradictions: "fantasy has a double structure, which at once reproduces and masks conflict, antagonism, or contradiction." (15) While playing out the violence of love, the Sickles trial enacted the perfect synthesis of violence and love.

This essay will describe the fantasy staged by the trial of Daniel Sickles, showing, specifically, how it created jealousy as instinct and as normative emotion--how jealousy became the possession of all men and distinctly not a reprehensible passion reserved for a vitiated few. But 1 will also argue that the Sickles trial was not enacting the timeless scenario it claimed it was; the trial in fact represented an abrupt break from its legal precedents, in which jealousy was either almost completely absent or was present only to be condemned as a passion that should and could he restrained. In first elaborating the legal pre-history of the Sickles trial, this essay reveals the absence of that jealousy said to be innate within men and also of the sacred, conjugal love that was inseparable from jealousy's emergence as universal masculine emotion. Earlier cases reveal that jealousy was not a shared property of all men and hardly ever a motive of domestic homicide. They also reveal that the absence of jealousy came in tandem with an absence of romantic love and of apotheosized domestic life. In short, looking beyond the Sickles trial itself makes manifest a contradictory history that the trial's central fantasy scenario Sickles' overwhelming, instinctual, violent jealousy--thoroughly effaces.

"An angry man is an outrageous and desperate creature"

What is striking about early U.S. publications about wife murder is precisely the lack of any idealisation of marriage; there is no evidence that men loved their wives, let alone passionately, and virtually no mention of jealousy as an overpowering emotion that could end in violence. There is certainly no mention of jealousy as a normative masculine emotion. The one history of jealousy in the United States, by Peter Stearns, confirms that "colonial Americans do not seem to have been much bothered by problems of romantic jealousy." (16) While Steams goes on to add that "[f]ew crimes of jealousy surfaced in colonial society," I have found no evidence of such crimes before 1762. (17) Karen Halttunen also finds that early American murder narratives "paid no particular attention to crimes of domestic murder" and that, more specifically, "sex was not cited as a motive." (18) From the late eighteenth through the early nineteenth century, accounts of married life in sermons, confessions, biographies, and trial reports are surprisingly sparse and prosaic. Not surprisingly, given that they end in murder, they are routinely brutal. They depict marriages that are at best merely peaceable, with both parties doing their respective and well-defined jobs. At worst they are arenas of recrimination and abuse--of failed duty and explosive anger.

Cases of domestic homicide from around 1800 to 1830 that resulted in a separate publication include sermons about Matthias Gotleib (1796) and Samuel Leonard (1826); confessions by Edward Donnelly (1808), Thomas Qua (1808), and Peter Lung (1816); and trial transcripts about John Graham (1804), John Banks (1806), Barent Becker (1815), Abraham Casler (1817), Medad M'Kay (1821), Samuel Perry (1826), John Boies (1829), and James Ransom (1832). In all of these cases, the violence was precipitated by what appeared to be a husband's simple anger at a wife's failure to perform her duties. (19) The causes of violence that materialize within these early pamphlets are shocking in their mundaneness. In the brief account of the crime that prefaces the sermon upon Matthias Gotleib's execution, the writer notes, presumably describing the crime's compelling motive, that he "returned home intoxicated; his wife being displeased to see him in that situation, began to find fault with his conduct." He then stabbed her with his knife. John Banks routinely beat his wife, demanded money from her, and called her a whore. Finally he killed her because, as he explained to a man who then testified at his trial, "he had bought some eggs and peanuts in the morning and wanted her to cook them, instead of which she dashed them against the wall when they got a quarrelling." Edward Donnelly, in his confession, talks about his uncontrollable anger when his wife first sends water rather than whiskey to the field where he is working, and then brings the whiskey to the wrong place, so he has to walk to get it. This sets off a period of drunkenness and anger that culminates in his beating her to death for not telling him who rode a horse through the oats. The similarly unprepossessing Peter Lung had a clearly stormy relationship with the wife he murdered: both of them apparently drank and fought endlessly. In a letter to his mother-in-law that disclaims responsibility for his wife's death, Lung singles out some details of the marriage that contributed to its violence--and they are mostly, as in the other cases, disputes over daily domestic matters. Lung recounts one instance when his wife asked him to dig some potatoes for dinner; he told her to dig them herself, and she refused. She finally declared she would no longer cook for him at all and went to lie down. Still insisting she get potatoes for dinner, Lung followed her into the bedroom and kicked and pushed her. Lung was particularly aggrieved that his wife had earlier cooked meat for a friend in exchange for brandy, but that she refused to cook for him. It was these events that ultimately precipitated his fatal violence. (20) Together, these publications represent a portrait of marriage in which the acme of happiness seemed to lie in husbands and wives soberly performing their respective and very material duties--the work of labor for subsistence (on the part of the man) and of labor within the household (on the part of the woman), There were no higher ideals articulated here: a happy marriage was one in which men got their whiskey, potatoes, eggs, and peanuts on demand. (21)

With their emphasis on duty, these publications never mention love; indeed, with the exception of rather simple anger, all emotion is absent. John Banks' explanation for the murder of his wife, for instance, is of the thinnest kind. After she refused his demand that she cook for him, he claimed that his wife abused him "until he got angry" and killed her. Edward Donnelly, whose wife made him walk to get his whiskey, attributes his beating his wife to death to his being "angry," "in a great passion," and "in a great rage." In the brief narrative of Samuel Leonard's life, appended to a lengthy sermon, the writer notes that Leonard consistently treated his wife with "cruelty" and "great barbarity" and that "without any apparent cause, unless it were the increasing interest which she manifested in religion [in defiance of his wishes], his anger toward her seemed to rise into fury." James Ransom wrote a poem to his children a few days before his execution in which he attributed his murder of his wife to alcohol and anger: "Your father, in anger, struck her on the head,--/She bled, groan'd and languished, but now she Is dead." (22) The anger in most of these publications seems not only sparsely developed but also rather unexceptional--immanent in the marital relation. Historians Carol and Peter Stearns argue in their book devoted to the emotion that anger was treated as both common and acceptable prior to the eighteenth century, sustaining hierarchies of age, gender, and class within the patriarchal family; men's anger, in other words, served to control wives, children, and servants. The Stearnses' go on to argue, though, that by the eighteenth century, "writings on the family evinced a new belief that anger was inappropriate in the domestic context," adding the caveat that this emotional transformation marked the upper classes more than the lower class. Trials of men who killed their wives, however, which perhaps lead us closer to the emotional lives of at least some real families than do the advice books that the Stearnses study, show that anger has certainly not disappeared, even by the early nineteenth century, as an integral part of family life. Neither has anger yet been displaced by the romantic love with which it is purportedly incompatible, thus also qualifying the Stearnses' claim that by the eighteenth century there was a "new valuation of love for spouse and children [which] carried with it the belief that anger must be controlled." (23) There is still a sense, in these publications, that anger is a more abiding presence in marriage than love. As the defense lawyer put it in the 1821 trial of Medad M'Kay for killing his wife (apparently because they "lived unhappily together"): "I must say, that if you were to hang every scolding wife in this county, and every husband who should be obliged to put his hand on his wife's mouth to stop her scolding, I strongly suspect that you would greatly thin the population of Allegany." (24) Men's anger becomes particularly evident when their will is defied and when what they see as their justifiable demands are not fulfilled by their wives. Duty and anger, not love, seem to be what binds partners into their appropriately gendered marital roles. (25)

Of course, the very fact that these particular trials of unrestrained and fatal anger were considered important enough to be published does also confirm the claim of Carol and Peter Stearns and other historians that by the early nineteenth century, even if anger was still endemic within many families, it nevertheless "must be controlled." (26) Indeed, the very publications of these trials and confessions mark both the real persistence of anger within marriage and the real pressure to eradicate it. The 1816 pamphlet about Peter Lung is the most clear about both the fact that anger precipitated his crime and that he should have governed his emotion. Lung identifies the numerous times he was "angry," in a "violent passion" and a "violent rage" with his wife. Even though he disavows responsibility for intentionally killing his wife, he does admit: "I know I was in the most violent rage, and did not govern my passions as 1 ought to have done," and he laments that his lack of self-governance has brought him to an "ignominious death." In a letter to his son before his execution, Lung penned the "solemn warning" that he should be careful to "keep your passions under, and never let them carry you beyond your reason." While Lung had apparently internalized dictates about self-control, in many of the pamphlets strictures about self-governance come explicitly from the arbiters of middle-class values--ministers, lawyers, judges, publishers. At the end of the sermon delivered upon Matthias Gotleib's execution, the minister warns his listeners to "avoid particularly, the rising of your passions--an angry man is an outrageous and desperate creature." In his pamphlet about Samuel Perry, the writer claims that by his example "an awful lesson is taught concerning human nature, when by anger or other means, the usual restraints are dissolved." In the case of John Boies, whose trial revealed persistent and brutal abuse, Boies's own lawyer insists on a distinction between himself and the defendant when it comes to the propriety of violence as a form of control. A witness claimed at trial that Boies said "he had a right to whip [his wife] when and as much as he pleased," to which his lawyer responded that he "did not come to justify the general conduct of the accused, for he held in abhorrence violence toward a woman." And then later still he repeats that he "did not contend that a man had a right to beat his wife for misconduct in this country, notwithstanding the barbarous common law doctrine in England respecting such a right in the husband." Indeed, Boies's lawyer seemed so appalled by the defendant's routine violent abuse of his wife--evident not least in testimony about her broken, bruised and stabbed body--that at one point he said that while his client clearly didn't kill his wife with an axe (as the prosecution argued), if he did kill her "it has been by a general course of severe and brutal conduct, by beating her and by neglect of her." Not surprisingly, given such a lukewarm defense, Boies was speedily convicted and sentenced to death. (27) In this case the sharp divergence between the virtue of self-restraint and the competing right of the husband to lash out in anger at a wayward wife was explicitly played out by a middle-class lawyer and his immigrant, working-class client--two people who should, at least for the duration of the trial, have been on the same side, and yet who were divided by class-bound expectations about anger and its governance.

The repeated warning that anger must be governed came from a particular view of human nature as sinful and of the passions as manifestations of that sin--inherent in humans since the fall of Adam and Eve. As sin, not natural instinct, passion had to be controlled. The publisher of John Banks' trial proclaimed: "From the entry of sin into the world, men became vicious and naturally inclined to evil." Like the children of "our first parents," all children are "born in sin" and only "a true love for religion, and a fear of punishment, can keep them honest." Similarly, the sermon on Gotleib's execution intones that "men have given themselves up to blood-shed and murder, ever since the seduction of our first parents." An exemplary elaboration of human proneness to violent passions as inherently sinful is laid out in the sermon for Samuel Leonard, who killed his wife and then himself. One common path to depravity, the minister warns, is "the indulgence of angry and malignant passion." He then goes on to anticipate and vehemently refute what will become dominant in later years--the idea that passion is acceptable because implanted by God: "The sentiment which we sometimes hear, that our Maker, in the very constitution of our nature, has established the dominion of passion over us, is as unreasonable, as it is impious. He has given us no passions, which, with proper care, we may not keep in subjection." He insists that "whenever passion is allowed habitually to have the ascendancy, the result will almost certainly be a sad depravation of moral character," going on to add that "the very existence of these violent feelings ... is sin" and that "these angry and malicious desires, could not fail to excite the displeasure of the searcher of hearts." (28) While God may have instilled passion, then, we are eminently capable of and morally responsible for governing those passions and thus overcoming sin.

The ability to control vicious passion, however, seemed increasingly in the antebellum period to be a class-bound ability--circumscribed within that middle-class of which the ministers who propounded such restraint were obviously an integral part. And to the extent that publications about domestic violence dramatically enact the failure to control culpable anger, they consistently insinuate that such failure is confined to certain classes--to the laboring poor and immigrant classes--for the defendants in these cases of wife murder were almost all immigrant laborers and farmers. Matthias Gotleib was born in Prussia and the only occupation mentioned was that of soldier; he was "remarkable," apparently, only for "deserting his post." John Banks was bom in Flanders and "brought up to a seafaring life"; he was designated as a "laborer" in the trial record, and during the course of the trial it was revealed that his wife worked in other people's houses as a servant. Edward Donnelly arrived in the U.S. from Ireland and became a farmer of relatively small means: he was raking rye in his field, for instance, with the help of only his seven-year-old son and one woman of color. Like Donnelly, Thomas Qua came to the U.S. from Ireland, and while he achieved some property, which he farmed, he lost it through his intemperance. Samuel Perry was also an Irish immigrant who began life in the U.S. as a trader and merchant but who drank himself into economic misfortunes. John Boies came form Ireland also and worked at a copper foundry. Barent Becker's background or occupation is not mentioned, but he apparently told witnesses he could not afford his family. Peter Lung worked only as an occasional laborer. (29) John Graham, the only man to be acquitted, is also the only man who managed to rise above a hand-to-mouth existence. Like many other defendants, Graham arrived in the U.S. indigent. His lawyer makes a point of explaining, however, that he exerted himself to such a degree that he became fully self-supporting: "By his daily and unremitting efforts be acquired a handsome competency." Graham is also unusual in that he is represented as having emotions other than anger, as well as the ability to restrain anger even as he was bound to a wife who, in her drunkenness, thwarted his every effort to rise in the world. His lawyer argues that Graham's feelings toward his wife were nothing but "tender," and that he showed her "peculiar care" as she recklessly drank and destroyed his industry and his economic self-sufficiency. Despite the crime of which he was accused, Graham had a "native goodness." (30) The juxtaposition of Graham's virtue with the other defendants' failure to govern their anger suggests that these publications explicitly functioned to bolster the emerging middle-class notion of restraint. As Jacqueline Miller has argued, "Learning to govern one's passions lay at the heart of a bourgeois domestic life." (31) While anger seethed in these marriages--flatly contravening ideas of emotional control and marital tenderness--the wives and husbands they featured were marked as poor and working class, thus consigning sinful uncontrollable passions elsewhere than the middle-class man and the middle-class marriage.

"Jealousy, is a fiend"

Virtually absent until 1830, toward the mid-nineteenth century jealousy began to appear much more frequently as a motive in domestic violence. (32) Sharply diverging from the early cases of explosive anger, jealousy emerged alongside the increasingly prevalent ideal that marriage is held together by love. In these early instances, though, jealousy--like anger--remains a vicious passion that destroys love and must be governed. As one who himself suffered from the emotion warned, "Jealousy, is a fiend which destroys the happiness of [men] more than any passion to which the human family is liable." (33) Unlike the monolithic representation of anger in earlier cases, however, the view of jealousy as sin, as one that virtuous men were able and morally bound to control, competed with a different notion of jealousy, one that was, in virtually every instance, bound up will) the changing legal defense of insanity. (34) In this account, jealousy was an emotion that was less sinful than natural, particularly given the new and equally "natural" importance to men of love. When love was thwarted or lost it could overwhelm a man's reason; it could divest him of the ability to control his feelings and his actions; it could drive him against his will not to sin but to acts which his will did not intend, his reason could not control, and for which he was not responsible. Three exemplary trials between 1817 and 1833, the very earliest trials to invoke jealousy as an explanation, demonstrate this shift, a shift that leads directly to the view of jealousy that finally held sway at the Sickles trial--of jealousy as instinctual and of violence done in its name as inevitable and excusable.

William M'Donnough was tried for killing his wife before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1817. His lawyers, Benjamin Rand and Samuel L. Knapp, offered a compelling insanity defense, one that the celebtated U.S. expert in medical jurisprudence, Isaac Ray, would reference twenty years later in his groundbreaking treatise on criminal insanity. (35) Central to M'Donnough's claim of insanity was an injury he suffered to his brain some years before. M'Donnough's insanity was not about a brain injury alone, however: two stimulants acted upon it, causing him to behave in ways he could not control. As Knapp sums it up in his closing: because of the injury done to the brain, "[t]he patient is then extremely susceptible of irritation, either by slight stimulants or mental agitation; and a few drops of liquor, or any sudden impression of joy, fear or anger, or jealousy produces a paroxysm of insanity." (36) Alcohol and jealousy, in this case, so affected M'Donnough's injured and volatile brain that it precipitated an action he was powerless to prevent and incapable of governing.

Debate ensued in the courtroom about the moral nature of alcohol and jealousy, and, in the process, the two became analogized: did the influence of either absolve a person from responsibility for a crime? Or did voluntarily engaging in either drink or passion make one more responsible? M'Donnough's lawyers explicitly argued that, because of the damage to the brain, "just a few drops of liquor" produced a "paroxysm of insanity." The prosecution countered with the standard claim that drunkenness only makes a criminal still more debased; far from excusing, intoxication is "in law, an aggravation of the offence." (37) To this argument, Knapp proffered the point that when a man with a head injury imbibes only a small amount of liquor, it was akin to someone unwittingly taking a drink of liquor laced with opium. M'Donnough, in other words, simply did not know--could not foresee--the effects his drinking would have, and his drinking had such dire effects because of a deep-seated physiological injury that he could not change. When Isaac Ray discussed the case in his Treatise on the Medical jurisprudence of Insanity, he expressed outrage that M'Donnough was "virtually convicted for the consequences of a bodily infirmity," claiming that the conviction was an unfair result of the moral opprobrium attached to alcohol, which blinded people to the mitigating fact of M'Donnough's brain injury. (38) Ray did not mention jealousy in his discussion of the M'Donnough case, but perhaps he would have agreed that jealousy was considered in the same jaundiced light by the public as drunkenness. Jealousy exerted what antebellum Americans called a moral and not a directly physiological influence on the brain, and thus it was with difficulty tied to a biological model of insanity, of a diseased or injured brain, of which lay people and jurists alike were so much more easily persuaded. M'Donnough's lawyers, though, did attribute to jealousy at least as much of a causative role in their client's madness as to alcohol; indeed, by equating the effects of alcohol and jealousy they attempted to insinuate the latter's virtually physiological impact. (39) There was a fair amount of witness testimony about Elizabeth M'Donnough's possible infidelity: two witnesses claimed that M'Donnough often cried about her conduct; one man described how he had told M'Donnough "he had horns upon his head" and chat "there was a man in his house who did not do as he ought"; and another witness intriguingly testified that he put Elizabeth M'Donnough in the work-house "for bad behavior." Knapp argues that "If M'Donnough had cause for jealousy, would not that alone be sufficient in an ardent disposition, with such a shattered head, to have produced insanity ...?" This claim supports the lawyers' framing argument--that an intense emotion stimulated a brain "more than ordinarily susceptible of passion," and thus caused M'Donnough's madness. (40)

To the defense claim that jealousy could cause insanity and thus excuse, the prosecution predictably countered that, like drunkenness, jealousy was something in which M'Donnough voluntarily and culpably indulged and for the consequences of which he was entirely responsible. The prosecutor asks why they should even look to insanity as an explanation with "the controlling passion of jealousy rankling in his breast." He continues that the "person who indulges in the exercise of these passions, and voluntarily uses stimulants which will probably incite them into action, must he answerable for the consequences." (41) Thus jealousy, like anger in the earlier trials, emerged as a vicious passion that rational men have a moral responsibility to restrain. And, indeed, even the defense essentially agreed with the prosecution's representation of jealousy as a negative passion that should have been governed. They simply argued that in M'Donnough's exceptional case, he was unable to check his passion because of his head wound. At this point in time, jealousy alone was allowed neither to cause insanity nor to excuse crime: there must be a mediating bodily injury, and even with such an injury, the argument of M'Donnough's lawyers convinced neither judge nor jury.

The 1822 trial of John Lechler presents the same competing views of jealousy as the M'Donnough case; again, the notion of jealousy as a voluntary and sinful action plays alongside a narrative of jealousy's ability to prostrate reason. In the case of Lechler, though, the latter narrative is not tied to a brain injury. As a result, Lechler's insanity does not become a part of the narrative told at trial: the ability of jealousy, alone, to incite insanity was a story not yet able to be told in the courtroom. Precisely because it is not yet legally viable, however, jealousy's ability to destroy reason is not framed, as it was in the M'Donnough case, as a distinctly aberrant state tied to irremediable brain trauma. This trial moves closer to the prevailing vision of the Sickles trial in that it suggests that Lechler's brand of incipient insanity would be the state of any man, not just one with a brain injury, when confronted with the moral trauma of his wife's adultery with his closest friend. The reason the Lechler trial effects this shift is that, in this case, Live appears newly centra! to marriage. In the M'Donnough case, we ate told only (by a witness) that the defendant "always treated his wife well when in his right mind, and had regard for her." (42) But in the case of John Lechler, five years later, it is because of the nature of love, not because of a brain injury, that jealousy can understandably overwhelm a man's reason and responsibility.

John Lechler was sentenced to die in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for killing his wife Mary, and attempting to kill his closest friend Bernhart Haag, after finding that his wife and friend had committed adultery. While jealousy, not anger, is the predominant emotion in this case, the main thrust of the pamphlet containing Lechler's confession, like those about men's anger, condemns unruly emotion. The publisher of the pamphlet includes a preface which damns jealousy as a "direful" passion that contaminates "every virtuous principle"--insisting that it is destructive alike to "domestic happiness and public tranquillity." He goes on to proclaim at length that jealousy will utterly destroy a marriage:

This paean to a sanctified family life is the first of its kind in the publications about men who kill their wives, and the Lechler trial certainly represents a change from the typical portrait of men and women who do their duty toward each other, who provide and cook food and try to quell excessive anger. In this case, though, jealousy is presented as antithetical to the domestic ideal. It is far from an emotion that will shore up and protect marriage, a function it will, counter intuitively, come to serve in later years. Reading the language of even this overt condemnation of jealousy, though, discloses seeds of arguments to come. The writer significantly claims that, for a man, his wife's purity is like his own blood: it is the thing that flows in his veins and "animates his system," keeping him alive. Not only his marriage but also the very existence of the husband depends on his wife's constant love. From this premise, it is not far to the argument that killing the adulterer or the adulterous wife is fundamentally a form of instinctual self-defense, and that jealousy is a passion that serves to shore up a man's very being.

In the confession that forms the bulk of this pamphlet, Lechler acquiesces to the moral set up in the preface and condemns his own iniquity. He concludes rather conventionally that he hopes his story "may have a tendency to prevent many, after witnessing my dreadful end, from being plunged into perdition by the too free indulgence of the wayward, malignant passions of the human heart." (44) However, slightly earlier, in a statement that rings truer, perhaps because it conforms less to the publisher's preface and more to Lechler's quite detailed account of his state of mind before and after the killing, Lechler is less clear about the primary sin in his story:

Lechler begins this exhortation in typical fashion by holding himself up as the exemplary sinner, warning his readers against the inroads of iniquitous jealousy. However, by the third sentence, the sin and sinner have changed: from this point on, Lechler devotes himself to the sin of adultery and to the evils of his former friend who destroyed both Lechler himself and his wife, Adultery, not jealousy, is the crime "of the blackest dye," and jealousy, far from being a sin, is instead an emotion for which there is ample cause in the world.

Indeed, throughout his confession, Lechler hints that he did what any man would have done. In a brief address to the court, for instance, immediately after his sentencing, he insists that "Bernhart Haag is the cause of my death"--that Haag's seduction of his wife "is the cause of all that has happened." (46) Perhaps, not yet as contrite as he will be when facing imminent execution, Lechler sees himself as wronged more than wrong. Lechler's confession also reveals how deeply troubled he was that Haag received no punishment for his crime: Lechler had initially been prevented from shooting his friend by the promise of money, and when Haag refused to pay up, Lechler tried to find satisfaction in a suit for seduction that either went nowhere or just did not satisfy him. The fact that a civil suit was a husband's only legal recourse against an adulterer was raised frequently in later unwritten law cases as a justification for a man's taking the law into his own hands. John Graham, in defense of Daniel Sickles thirty-seven years later, will claim that the absence of criminal laws against adultery served the express purpose of signaling punishment not only as a man's private responsibility, but as an act sanctioned by God and nature. Graham will also argue that for a husband to pursue the paltry rights granted by human law, seeking monetary compensation for infidelity, was tantamount to turning his house into a brothel. The logic of this aspect of the justification argument is evident in Lechler's inability to feel satisfied with the prospect of monetary damages, and in his inability to shake the feeling that he must kill Haag to have any peace at all.

Lechler's confession also anticipates what will become the excuse strand of subsequent unwritten law trials, for he is profoundly disturbed by his wife's and his friend's betrayal--so overcome at the moment of discovery that he fainted. His description of his state of mind anticipates the language of insanity: the thought of his wife as Haag's mistress "nearly made me distracted" and "was too much for me to bear"; he was "ungovernable and did not know what to do." Quite unlike William M'Donnough, Lechler's profound emotional distress is rooted in his great love for his wife: he says that at the time he married his wife he "was passionately fond of her--indeed to excess," continuing that, "from my extreme love for her, I was induced to do anything for her." Indeed, part of the cause of the tragedy is that after he finds his wife with Haag, he comes to realize that "I loved her too well to turn her away; to live with her was impossible." (47) This is the first formulation of what will become a cliche in cases of jealous men killing women they claim passionately to love (they can live neither with them nor without them). (48) But the notion that a man's love for his wife could reasonably lead to insanity and violence is simply absent in U.S. murder trials before the Lechler case.

In the 1833 trial of Joel Clough, what made John Lechler merely "distracted" and "ungovernable" rendered Clough, according to his lawyers, insane. This trial begins to articulate the idea that while passions certainly needed to be restrained, an intertwined love and jealousy could not. always be controlled even by the most virtuous of men. It also moves closer to the notion that love and jealousy could spur insanity and violence in the most rational of men. Clough was tried at Mount Holly, New Jersey, for murdering a woman for whom he had nurtured a passionate but unrequited love. When Mary Hamilton made it clear that she would not marry him, Clough stabbed her in the chest. In his insightful essay on the trial, Ed Hatton lays out the competing conceptions of the defendant presented to the jury: in the by-now familiar prosecutorial narrative, Clough was a lustful, jealous, and vengeful man, driven by debased emotions when he should instead have governed them. In the defense story, on the other hand, Clough was the victim of a sacred love, which, when denied, led to the dethroning of his reason. This second argument, which had only been suggested in the trial of John Lechler, is what is important about the Clough case. As Hatton describes the argument for the defense: "On the fatal day, [his lawyers] argued, 'the passion of love' had 'rendered it impossible' for him 'to control or regulate his conduct, and [it] as much destroyed his mind as if he were a maniac.'" (49) In this formulation, love, combined with jealousy, can quite simply make a man mad, not accountable for his actions in the eyes of the law.

The radical claim that passion and insanity were not opposed hut linked was stated so unambiguously by Clough's defense that the judge, in his lengthy charge to the jury, obviously felt compelled to take up directly the question of whether passion (of love, of jealousy) was indeed tantamount to excusable insanity. Chief Justice Homblower admitted that a man who killed the woman in "whose life and happiness, his own was bound up in unconquerable affection" may seem veritably mad, and he went on to say that "Phrenzy and passion are nearly allied to--nay, they are a partial insanity." But after having gone so far, Horn-blower turned back, qualifying his aligning of passion and madness by saying that the insanity that is affiliated with passion "is sometimes such an insanity as increases rather than diminishes moral turpitude--as proves its existence rather than its absence." The judge allowed that love is such an intense emotion that it can overcome reason, but he then insisted that it nevertheless urges its sufferer on "to crimes of deepest die." He offered a fundamentally dichotomized view of love, illustrating how "closely allied are our virtues and our vices," for love may he "pure and virtuous," but it can also be "vicious," becoming "the burning lust of unhallowed and undisciplined passions." (50) Clearly trying to present a balanced view to the jury, Justice Hornblower would not directly apply to Clough the extended view he had just mapped out of how undisciplined passion leads to malicious crime and, indeed, he proffered the defense narrative again, once more linking passion and excusable insanity and proclaiming that Clough's love for Mary Hamilton "may have been as pure and holy as ever glowed in the bosom of a mortal being. It may have burnt and blazed too strong for the physical powers of his mind to endure; and the lamp of reason itself may have gone out, or but glimmered in its socket, under the influence of [love's] all-absorbing power." If such was the case, Hornblower concluded, Clough was a crazy man "hut not a guilty one." (51) Pure love can lead to an exculpatory insanity in Hornblower's formulation. The jury, however, did not find the argument persuasive, choosing instead the alternative, more traditional story of debased and ungoverned passion leading to quite purposeful crime. Condemned for his reprehensible passion, Clough was executed.

"Obedience to the will of nature"

The complex interconnection of love, jealousy, insanity, and excusable murder is not an unvarying natural phenomenon but was created within a particular legal and cultural arena. The seeds planted in the cases of William M'Donnough, JohnLechler, and Joel Clough came to fruition in 1859 when Daniel Sickles was tried for killing his wife's lover. According to Sickles' lawyers, jealousy as both righteous, albeit unsettling, passion and as instinct was immanent in all men. Moreover, jealousy was a passion and an instinct that could drive any man to excusable violence and was thus firmly--and convincingly, in this case--allied with legal notions of insanity. But jealousy was not therefore a necessarily deviant state. To the contrary. To kill in the name of jealousy was merely, as one of Sickles' lawyers put it, "obedience to the will of nature." (52)

The trial of Daniel Sickles for the murder of Philip Barton Key was one of the most vehemently contested trials in nineteenth-century America. From the beginning, it was clear that it was going to be, above all else, a pitched battle between the many talented lawyers involved. Sickles was represented by no fewer than seven lawyers, two of them virtual celebrities in New York: James T Brady and John Graham. Both Brady and Graham were, like Sickles, prominent Democrats. Both would also go on to make virtual careers out of the "unwritten law" defense--taking on the other famous clients who shot and killed adulterers (Brady represented George Cole in 1867 and Graham was attorney for Daniel McFarland in 1870). The primary source of contention at the trial, since nobody-questioned that Sickles did in fact shoot Key, was the admissibility of evidence of Philip Barton Key's and Teresa Sickles' affair and of the effect of this betrayal by wife and friend on Sickles' state of mind. As the first major "unwritten law" trial, the defense launched a radical attempt to mix the typically distinct defenses of provocation, temporary insanity, and justification--and they did so successfully, for Sickles was acquitted. In its blending of ostensibly irreconcilable defenses, Daniel Sickles' trial enacted a powerful and contradictory scenario that was only tenuously sustained by the letter of the law. Confronted by his wife's adultery, Sickles purportedly became gripped by emotions he could not govern--by overwhelming love, grief, and jealousy. These emotions, according to his lawyers, rendered him not responsible for his actions. At the same time, though, Sickles' emotions also legitimated that violence, making it the right thing to do. That the scenario staged at Sickles' trial is a fantasy is signaled not least by this fusing of deeply contradictory elements: Sickles was irrational and rational, not responsible for what he did and yet justified in his actions. (53) The principal way in which Sickles' defense lawyers evaded the deeply contradictory nature of the narrative they told at trial was to stress the central role of emotion, specifically of jealousy, in Sickles' killing of Key--and in this Sickles' lawyers followed the trajectory begun in the trials of M'Donnough, Lechler, and Clough. (54) Jealousy was the powerfully destabilizing emotion that led to Sickles' temporary insanity; indeed, his jealousy was so imbricated with madness that where passion ended and frenzy began was impossible to tell. Jealousy was also the indubitably righteous and divinely-granted instinct that both prompted and legitimized the slaying. (55) In the trial of Daniel Sickles, jealousy became an unsettling, motivating, sanctifying, and, most importantly, an inherent masculine crait. Jealousy was the critical component of the fantasy scenario staged at Sickles' trial, serving to ground and to fuse antagonistic insanity and justification arguments, as well as to excuse a man for killing in its name.

The first of two principal ways in which Sickles' lawyers shaped jealousy as tantamount to insanity and as a normative emotion, not an exceptional deviant state, was by drawing on the kinds of arguments articulated at the trials of William M'Donnough, John Lechler, and Joel Clough: they argued that Sickles was driven to a "passion" akin if not equivalent to "frenzy" by the affair of his wife with Key, thus dissolving the crucial legal distinction between frenzy (characteristic of excusable insanity) and passion (a culpable impulse that should be restrained). Doing more than any other contemporary case to erode this legal distinction, the defense tried to constitute passion (jealous passion in particular) as involuntary, in the process constituting jealousy as an emotion (not a deviant state of frenzy) that would excuse. This act of revisionary definition was obviously part of the defense lawyers' overall strategy to convince the jurors that Sickles only did what any man would have done in the same circumstances because he felt what any man would have felt in those circumstances. As John Graham argued: "We need no books here to tell you with what affections the human mind is endowed; that is a matter which can be as well passed upon in the verdict you may render on your own innate feelings as it can be passed upon by you, after any enlightenment which I might be able to throw upon it." (56) There could be no clearer statement of the defense's strategy of appealing to a shared emotion rather than to law and precedent, both of which mandated that insanity should be by definition aberrant, not rooted in "innate feelings."

In his opening speech, John Graham did at first effect the obligatory separation of temporary insanity (which would excuse) from a vicious passion, say, of anger and revenge (which would condemn). He explicitly says that the law demands that a distinction be made between "pardonable or excusable unsoundness of mind" and "wanton or ungovernable passion." He even goes on later to say that the defense lawyers "denied that this case presents an instance of ungovernable passion" and, still later, that he "denied and spurned the idea that Mr. Sickles' mind was in a mere state of passion." Indeed, he argued, "when the mind is in a state of frenzy it is capable of no passion." (57) These claims all assent to a sedimented case law which insists that insanity is a state of mind different from everyday passion. (58) At the same time, however, these claims deny the "commonsense" notion, covertly proffered by Sickles' lawyers, that of course a man would be in a passion akin to frenzy when he discovered his wife in the arms of another man. The official legal argument that Sickles should be acquitted, in other words, with its denial of passion and its separation of passion from insanity, also forbids the very grounds on which jurors might be most persuaded to acquit him--that is, that Sickles was overcome by a passion any man would feel at sexual betrayal. Indeed, in a later verbal scuffle with the Attorney General, defense lawyer Philip Phillips claimed that he was "grieved to see that the counsel for the prosecution had laid down the proposition that when the prisoner had knowledge of the faithlessness of his wife, there was no cause for passion." (59) So, while denial of Sickles' passion met the technical exigencies of the insanity defense (he was insane, not in a state of passion), the inevitability of that same passion in any man in Sickles' position formed the basis of the defense's actual appeal to the emotions of the men on the jury. The defense sailed uneasily around the rocks of this rather glaring legal contradiction by virtue of the fact that they were arguing, alongside the excuse of temporary insanity, a mitigation of the killing on the grounds that Sickles was provoked to passion by Key's perfidy. As Phillips laid out this defense: "We propose to prove the passion, and the provocation which led to the passion." (60) In his opening, John Graham brilliantly weaves together the separate defenses of provocation and insanity. While insanity excused completely, it was a disease of the brain and a more or less permanent and abnormal state of mind; provocation, on the other hand, only reduced the crime to manslaughter, presuming a more common transitory-passion. Graham, however, made the case both for a temporary insanity that was rooted in provoked passion and also for a provoked passion that should acquit completely. As he put it: "The question which I present to your mind is this:--Whether when a man receives provocation which excites in him an amount of frenzy which he cannot control, he is responsible for what he does under the influence of that frenzy?" A little later, he says that a man incurs only a nominal criminality if he kills another for adultery, "under the passion then excited, and when it is uncontrollable." He says, finally, that when an act is committed under such provocation, as to lead to an uncontrollable passion akin to frenzy, it should be "equivalent or tantamount to an acquittal." (61) In these statements, Graham successfully blurs frenzy and passion, thus allowing the jurors to consider Sickles as a man subject to the fundamentally destabilizing emotion that any man would feel on discovering his wife's adultery. They are discouraged from viewing him as a deviant mad man, although they are encouraged to acquit him on precisely that ground.

Graham transported this argument to at least one subsequent trial, becoming still more explicit about his rendering of jealousy and insanity as virtual synonyms. In his 1870 defense of Daniel McFarland for the slaying of his wife's lover, Albert Richardson, he proclaimed: "Jealousy, which defies and bears down all restraint, whether it be what we technically call insanity or not, is akin to it. It enslaves the injured husband and ends itself in one result which seems to be inevitable and unavoidable. Where jealousy--what the scripture calls jealousy, which is what we call insanity for the purpose of this trial--takes possession of a man's breast, he will not spare in the day of vengeance; that is, he cannot spare; for the Deity did not make him strong enough to stand a provocation like that. If provoked, the end cannot be averted." (62) Graham here insists that any distinction between jealousy and insanity is a mere legal technicality, irrelevant when it comes to the reality of necessary human emotions.

The second strategy by which Sickles' lawyers framed jealousy as akin to insanity (and thus excusable) and also as a fundamentally shared masculine emotion is a truly radical departure from precedent and, unlike the conflation of passion and frenzy, it is not anticipated in prior trials. Sickles' lawyers made the concept of "irresistible insanity," central to nineteenth-century formulations of


moral insanity, synonymous with an "instinct" that inhered in every man and that was a shared inheritance with the animals. (63) James Brady's passionate closing argument is crucially about jealousy as instinct and warrants lengthy quotation:

Brady stakes out the claim, through this speech, that jealousy is an instinct that men hold in common with other animals. Although he balks at speculating about the emotional life of worms, he freely proclaims that birds and lions are captive to the same love and the same jealousy as men. Conversely, man, with his "animal instincts" is no more able to control his vengeful jealousy than birds and lions. To kill the seducer is equally the natural instinct of bird, lion, and man. Jealousy is an instinct, Brady claims, that God has "implanted in every animal or creature that crawls the earth" and, again, Brady rather redundantly refers to man's "animal instincts," which he is as incapable of controlling as the "inferior animals." (65) Jealousy as instinct, Brady intones, originates in nature and God: it is an uncontrollable "animal instinct" (even birds and lions are driven by jealousy); it is also, however, implanted by God, prompting men to a legitimate defense of another emotion God implanted--that is, marital love.

The defense makes the jealousy-as-instinct strand of their argument clear from the beginning. In his opening, Graham addresses the controversial fact that adultery was not punished by the law, on the face of it a reason why Sickles should be punished for killing Key (after all, why should Sickles be allowed to punish something the law did not). The most the (civil) law might have demanded of Key would have been monetary compensation. At best, then, Sickles exacted a wildly disproportionate payment in taking Key's life; at worst, the punishment he doled out was not warranted at all. What Graham did to overcome the potential problem of Sickles' having done something the law did not authorize was to create an extra-legal explanation that mixed instinct, nature, and God, and that sanctioned what Sickles did even if (especially if) human law did not. As Graham put it: the fact that adultery isn't punished by law "throws you on the law of your heart--there is the repertory of your instincts; go by them and you reflect the will of Heaven." And later, he repeats that the effect of human law's inability to touch the adulterer "was simply to turn us over to our instincts, as regulated by the law of nature." Men operate, then, by what Graham persistently calls the "law of human nature and instinct" when they kill the adulterer--and at the center of this law of nature and instinct is a shared jealousy, a jealousy manifest by Sickles and, Graham suggests, by any man who might find himself in Sickles' position. (66) This argument eschews all the typical legal premises of provocation and justification--that the act the defendant punishes he one that the law itself would punish and that the punishment exacted be proportionate to the crime. Instead, to kill the adulterer becomes a natural right founded on an intertwined emotion and instinct. (67)

If jealousy as instinct finally served to ground the argument that the husband had a right to kill the adulterer, thus shaping the justification argument in new ways, it also grounded the insanity strand of the defense argument. One of Sickles' lawyers articulated this point best in the middle of the trial: when a man learns of the adultery of his wife, he "is so frenzied by these instincts, which are a parr of him, as that he could not resist being driven on to the result that is inevitably placed before him, he thus becomes an involuntary instrument in the execution of a judgment for which, and the execution of which, he was intended by nature to be an instrument." A bit later, he repeats that when "the husband slays under the influence of frenzy, he slays in obedience to the will of nature." And, still later, that "the slaying of Mr. Key was just as involuntary as though [Sickles] was hurried on by the violence of a mob; but instead of being an instrument in the hands of the mob, he was an instrument in the hands of his instinct, and went forward in the commission of the act." (68) The language of insanity structures these claims: "frenzied," "driven," "involuntary instrument"; in fact, the word "instrument" is used four times in just these few sentences. What is different from typical insanity arguments, though, is that it is not a diseased or damaged brain and consequently disordered reason or will that renders Sickles a mere instrument of his own uncontrollable frenzy. Instead, it is "the will of nature" or his "instincts" that impel him. This strategy, as with the conflation of passion and madness, replaces the traditional notion of insanity as an anomalous state with a formulation of insanity as a normative state--a response based on instincts shared by all men, a necessary state founded in nature. Because of this distinctly masculine instinct, the slaying of the seducer was both right and inevitable--was a legitimate response that the betrayed husband had no choice hut to make.

While Sickles' defense lawyers energetically constructed an unprecedented legal defense that was founded on the twinned construction of jealousy as innate frenzied passion and irresistible instinct, they also consistently presumed a very particular marital and familial configuration within which jealousy became inevitable. As much as James Brady, for instance, in his closing speech, claims to be deducing universal animal instinct from his great knowledge of various fauna, he is instead rather obviously projecting onto animals preconceived notions of what is natural. That he does so is clear from the way he anthropomorphizes the bird and the lion in his closing speech. The bird, according to Brady, kills the stranger that "invades his nest" and that seeks to take from him the love that God "formed him to enjoy"--images that rather obviously describe the nineteenth-century domestic ideal more than they do the bird's nest. Still more egregiously, Brady avers that the lioness can prove "wanton" and can have "seduction ... applied to her" by a lion not her mate--thus imposing onto the animal world a gendered vision of sexuality that transparently reflects human morality. (69) Indeed, Sickles' lawyers repeatedly asserted that the marital bond is the most important of all familial ties, a claim that founds the very idea that a man can commit violence with impunity to protect it. A large part of Graham's opening argument that the adulterer should be punished, and that Sickles was not acting maliciously but was in a "frenzy," depends on inflating the sanctity of the marital bond: "Would any jury say there were any such feelings of purity in this case as those which attach to a wife? It was of the essence of human nature to love woman with a tenderness which does not identify itself with any other passion. This forms the most enthusiastic, the most maddening passion which clusters around woman and invests her with hex claims to protection." (70) Defense attorney Edwin Stanton makes the same point in the closing argument, constructing a hierarchy of family relations in which husband and wife are preeminent: "In a general sense the family may embrace various degrees of affinity, more or less near; but in a strictly legal sense it embraces the relations of husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister. The first and most sacred tie, however, is the nuptial bond." Stanton then goes on to reinforce this latter point with a quotation from an unspecified "moralist," thus drawing his argument about the sacredness of marriage from both the law and general "moral" dicta. In a rather startling argument that defending marriage was of greater importance than refraining from killing, Stanton insists that "[t]he very existence of civil society depends, not on human life, but on the family relations." (71) The sanctity of marriage is self-evidently presumed to trump the sanctity of human life itself.

In the defense narrative, then, the argument that Daniel Sickles finally had no choice but to kill Philip Barton Key is dependent on a preexisting assumption that marriage and family--specifically a "pure" wife devoted only to husband and hallowed home--form the cornerstone of a man's very being. Indeed, it is only because of the prior construction of this domestic ideal that Sickles' fatal response to its shattering can be both justified and excused. The defense worked hard to naturalize what Sickles felt, not least by their unprecedented use of "instinct" as that which drove him. But their case nevertheless rests on still one more paradox: despite James Brady's valiant attempt to analogize the bird in its nest and the lion in the jungle to the antebellum home, Sickles' act was not "natural," for he was prompted by ideals of love and domesticity that were fundamentally cultural and historical products. In an interesting moment in the 1867 trial of George Cole for killing his wife's lover, the prosecution directly challenged the ways in which the defense (including Brady himself) presented certain notions of love, marriage, family, and home as "natural." "Where would George W. Cole stand under the law of nature?" the prosecutor asks. "Under this law, neither wife, family, nor children, could he recognized. Under the law of force, all are as the beasts of the forest." (72) While this lawyer is, perhaps equally problematically, aligning the law of nature with the law of force, his point that "nature" and "instinct" were concepts that were being mobilized in very particular and historically contingent ways is extremely pertinent. Early U.S. cases of domestic murder, moreover, belie the arguments of Sickles' and Cole's lawyers about man's instinctual jealousy and instinctual defense of an idealized marriage and home. For in these cases, the supposedly immanent instinct of jealousy, along with the ideals of love and home with which it became intertwined in the antebellum years, were demonstrably absent. The Sickles case, along with trials that came before it, demonstrate that "instinctive" jealousy was not inevitably there all along; instead, it emerged hand-in-hand with the ideology of romantic love and hallowed domesticity.

The fantasy scenario of the instinctual and normative passion of jealousy constructed within the Sickles trial not least, then, effaces the history that forms the very ground of that scenario's possibility--a history of the development of the romantic ideal, companionate marriage, and the isolated nuclear family bound more and more by the voluntary bonds of love and less and less by the often involuntary interests of duty and economics. This history is buried within the Sickles trial itself, but is made manifest when one looks beyond the trial to other trials that preceded it, that form precisely the history it will not acknowledge. In the end, despite the ways in which the trial of Daniel Sickles rendered jealousy as immanent, as natural, there is little that is stable about the emotion of jealousy and about the meanings it accrues in different times and places. In the early decades of the nineteenth-century U.S., jealousy slowly and unevenly emerged as a violent yet increasingly understandable, even excusable, response to sexual betrayal and the loss of love. It became, finally, a seemingly taken-for-granted response, although the proclaimed inevitability of jealousy is contradicted by its absence from colonial America and from extant domestic murder trials of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Whereas violence had earlier been precipitated by a husband's anger, often at his wife's failure to perform her expected duties, violence came only gradually in the antebellum era to be linked with love and a corollary jealousy. This emergence is mostly tied to the contemporaneous emergence of romantic love, companionate marriage, and the domestic ideal--along with evolving and more complex notions of what contituted legal insanity. These aspects of history--the early history of domestic violence in which jealousy is utterly absent, and the developments in the early nineteenth century of understandings of love and marriage--are all effaced in the fantasy narrative, timeless and universal, which Daniel Sickles' lawyers created at his 1859 trial.

Department of English and American Studies Bethlehem, PA 18015


(1.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles for Shooting Philip Barton Key (New York, [1859]), p. 97.

(2.) Hendrik Hartog, "Lawyering, Husbands' Rights, and 'the Unwritten Law' in Nineteenth-Century America," The Journal of American History 84 (1997): 67-96; Robert M. Ireland, "Insanity and the Unwritten Law," The. American Journal of Legal History 32 (1988): 157-72.

(3.) An Authentic Account of the Trial of John Banks ... Held in and for the City and County of New-York, the 29th Day of May, 1806 ([n.p., n.d]), p. 14

(4.) Joan W. Scott, "Fantasy Echo: History and the Construction of Identity," Critical Inquiry 27 (2001): 290.

(5.) Scott, "Fantasy Echo," p. 290.

(6.) Scott, "Fantasy Echo," p. 292.

(7.) The lawyers in the Sickles trial imported to other trials this decree from Proverbs to add the heft of Biblical injunction and seemingly timeless legitimacy to their arguments about the excusabilty of violence committed in the name of jealousy. John Graham, in the trial of Daniel McFarland in 1870, quotes from the Bible that "Jealousy is the rage of a man; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance," and then goes on to add that this is the way it will inevitably be "until human nature is formed anew, and different feelings and impulses are bestowed upon us." See Trial of Daniel McFarland for the Shooting of Albert D. Richardson, the Alleged Seducer of His Wife (New York, [1870]), p. 178. Graham reiterates the Biblical quotation as the last line of his lengthy summing up of the defense argument. See Trial of Daniel McFarland, P. 209.

(8.) Scott, "Fantasy Echo," p. 290.

(9.) David Buss, The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is as Necessary as Love and Sex (NewYork, 2000), p. 5,7.

(10.) Buss, The Dangerous Passion, p. 6, 8. Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 97. Buss is a little imprecise about the origins of jealousy, writing that it began "long before capitalism, long before agriculture and cash economies, long before writing and recorded history, and long before humans fanned out and colonized every habitable continent." The Dangerous Passion, p. 9.

(11.) Joel Pfister, "On Conceptualising the Cultural History of Emotional and Psychological Life in America," Inventing the Psychological; Toward a Cultural History of Emotional Life in America, ed. Joel Pfister and Nancy Schnog (New Haven, 1997): 17. For more on the history of emotion, see two important survey essays, Peter N. Stearns with Carol Z. Stearns, "Emotionology: Clarifying the History of Emotions and Emotional Standards," The American Historical Review 90 (1985); and Peter N. Stearns, "Social History Update: Sociology of Emotion," Journal of Social History 22 (1989). See also Rom Harre, ed. The Social Construction of Emotions (New York, 1986), esp. 2-14.

(12.) Rates of domestic violence in early America are notoriously difficult to uncover and interpret, but what evidence there is suggests a rise in marital violence after 1800. In a recent essay on spousal murder in northern New England, Randolph Roth notes that "Lethal marital violence increased from the late 1820s through the Civil War." More specifically, he finds "a tenfold increase in wife murder" between 1848 and 1865. Making a point that supports my argument about the increasing expectations of marital love generating more marital violence, Roth claims that one of the causes of this increase is "the rising expectations of a northern New northern New England society"--specifically, a man had to be "a person of sentiment: sympathetic, affectionate, and compassionate, especially toward members of his family." Rising expectations necessarily produced "the sense of failure that gripped many husbands." See "Spousal Murder in Northern New England, 1776-1865," Over the Threshold: Intimate Violence in Early America, ed. Christine Daniels and Michael V. Kennedy (New York, 1999): 65, p. 67, p. 81, p. 86. Elizabeth Pleck has also found that while the family murder rate was "quite low both in sixteenth-century England and the New England colonies," it began to '"rise gradually in the nineteenth century." Pleck goes on to elaborate: "Victorian marriage appears to have been fraught with stress and jealousy. Alcohol consumption was also quite high. The ideal of romantic love arose, leading to hopes of intimacy, sharing, and companionship which could not always be satisfied. Dashed expectations for marital bliss may have caused some murders. Whatever the reason, spousal murder accounted for an ever-growing share of family murder in the nineteenth century." Domestic Tyranny: The Making of Social Policy against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present (New York, 1987), p. 218, 222. Other historians have discussed the complex connections between increasing romantic expectations and increasing violence in the nineteenth century. Daniel A. Cohen has pointed out the tension involved in the increasing value placed both on sell-restraint and on a romantic love that was purportedly irrational and overwhelming. See Pillars of Salt, Monuments of Grace: New England Crime Literature and the Origins of American Popular Culture, 1674--I860 (New York, 1993), p. 169. Cohen's fascinating discussion of the 1801 case of Jason Fairbanks illustrates this paradox. See pp. 167-94. Also, Peter N. Stearns with Carol Z. Stearns points out that while at one level, the increasing romantic emphasis in the nineteenth century coincided (discursively at least) with decreased anger, at another level, a less discursive level, "it is surely possible that growing emotional intensity brought both anger and love in its wake." "Emotionology," p. 822. This claim is certainly supported by the findings of Roth and Pleck.

(13.) Again, David Buss articulates one contemporary version of this paradoxical pairing of violent jealousy and love. He traces jealousy's origins back to the "emergence of long-term love" in the shadows of prehistory. Jealousy evolved, he argues, precisely to guard the bond of love: "Love and jealousy are intertwined passions. They deepen each other and feed on each other." Jealousy is "an inevitable consequence of true love." In Buss's account, love poses a fundamental problem: how to save it from those who would encroach on it and from those who would stray from it. Jealousy is the solution to this problem--and the two are bound in a "co-evolutionary spiral." Despite an obligatory condemnation of violence, the thrust of his book is to rationalize even pathological jealousy, showing how in cease alter case of apparently delusional jealousy, the object of a man's jealousy was indeed straying, thus putting his very survival at risk. Indeed, it is not hard at all to read Buss's book as a legitimization of violence committed in the name of jealousy. After all, "modern men carry with them the dangerous passion that led to their forebears' reproductive success." The Dangerous Passion, p. 9, 14, 27, 45, 7, my italics.

(14.) Peter Stearns and Carol Stearns offer an extended discussion of the important difference between studying the history of emotions and of emotionology. They define the latter as "the collective emotional standards of a society"--which is to be distinguished from the actual experience of an emotion. "Emotionology," p. 813.

(15.) Scott, "Fantasy Echo," p. 288.

16. Peter N. Stearns, Jealousy: The Evolution of an Emotion in American History (New York, 1989), p. 24. Stearns explains the fact of colonial Americans being not much "bothered" by romantic jealousy in several ways: first, colonial Americans did not encourage "ardent passion as the primary foundation of marriage"; second, there were "institutional arrangements that had inhibited jealousy in the colonial era"--mostly close communal supervision along with laws and church rules against adultery; finally, Stearns notes that colonial society had "also seen jealousy as an emotion, that went beyond sex and marriage"--including concern about honor and zeal in public conduct. Jealousy, p. 24, 25. For an illuminating discussion of bow the meanings of jealousy, even through and beyond the Revolutionary period, were by no means confined to romantic love, see James H. Hutson, "The Origins of 'The Paranoid Style in American Polities': Public Jealousy from the Age of Walpole to the Age of Jackson," Saints and Revolutionaries: Essays on Early American History, ed. David D. Hall, John M. Murrin, and Thad W. Tate (New York, 1984): 332-72.

(17.) Stearns, Jealousy, p. 24. In her Breaking the Bonds: Martial Discord in Pennsylvania, 1730-1830 (New York, 1991), p. 113, Merril D. Smith cites only one case of jealousy in her survey of spousal violence over a century in Pennsylvania--and it is not even clear the extent to which jealousy caused the violence in this one case. The first case I have found that imputes jealousy as a motive for a husband's murder of his wife (and the only one before 1800) is that of John Lewis, who killed his wife in 1759, believing her unborn child was not his. However, Lewis also appeared deeply delusional, convinced that certain passages in Revelations dictated he should kill his wife. See A Narrative of the Life, Together with the Last Speech, Confession, and Solemn Declaration of John Lewis, who was Executed ... on Friday the 27th of June, Preceding (New-Haven, 1762), pp. 6-7.

(18.) Karen Halttunen, Murder Most Foul: The Killer and the American Gothic lmagination (Cambridge, MA, 1998), p. 136, 174- In short, Halttunen concludes that colonial Americans did not use execution sermons as an opportunity to "tell tales of family life" (137).

(19.) In an exhaustive study of crime in Pennsylvania through 1800, Jack I). Marietta and G. S. Rowe find that domestic homicides make up a surprisingly large proportion of homicides, and they also confirm the claim of this essay that a wife's perceived failure to perform her duties was often the cause: "Defense of ego and patriarchalism stimulated many of the men. Behavior that attacked the husband's ego or belittled bis status sparked his violence. It may have been a wife's infidelity, but it likely was more pedestrian behavior, like her failure or refusal to meet his domestic demands--in housekeeping, child-tearing, and the like. If she did not accommodate his criticisms and demands, or even worse, candidly challenged him, she might suffer more quickly or more grievously." Troubled Experiment: Crime and. Justice in Pennsylvania, 1682-1800 (Philadelphia, 2006V p. 110.

(20.) Sermon Preached at the Execution of Matthias Gotleib, for Murder, at Newton, October 28, 1796 (Newton, NJ, 1796), pp. 2-3; An Authentic Account of the Trial of John Banks, pp. 8-9, 14; The Confession of Edward Donnelly, Who Was Executed at Carlisle, on Monday the 8th of February, 1808. for the Savage Murder of His Wife Catharine Donnelly (Philadelphia, 1808), p. 5, 7-9; Brief Account of the life of Peter Lung (Hartford, 1816), pp. 6-7.

(21.) Even cases that were complicated by men's rather clear insanity--delusions of persecution by family members, neighbors, and Satan--often also involve a sense of aggrievement at a wife's failure to do her duty. John Lewis, for instance, recounts how his wife refused to lie next to him, so he jumped on her "in a furious Manner" and choked her. See A Narrative of the Life ... of John Lewis, p. 3. Robert Bush, who killed his wife in 1828, believed he was beset by the Devil, hut he also complained of his wife that "if she could not make shirts for him she ought not to for the Irishmen." See The Trial of Robert Bush for the Murder of Sally Bush, His Wife (Springfield, [CT], 1829), p. 7.

(22.) An Authentic Account of the Trial of John Banks, p. 17; The Confession of Edward Donnelly. p. 5. 7. 8; Wicked Men Ensnared by Themselves. A Sermon Preached, December 16, 1825, in the Second Parish of West Springfield, at the Interment of Samuel Leonard and Mrs. Harriet Leonard, His Wife (Springfield, |MA]. 1826), p. 38; Trail Sentence and Execution of James Ransom for the Murder of His Wife, Who Was Executed the 7th of January, 1832, in the Bellevue Prison Yard, N.Y. (New York, [n.d]), p. 18.

(23.) Carol Zisowitz Stearns and Peter N. Stearns, Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History (Chicago, 1986), pp. 26-7, 28,31, 28.

(24.) Trial of Medad M'Kay, for the Murder of His Wife, Before Chief Justice Spencer, 1820 (Albany, 1821), p. 83.

(25.) This conclusion is very similar to what Pamela Haag finds in the cases of workingclass violence she studies in New York City between 1860 and 1880, in "The 'Ill-Use of a Wife: Patterns of Working-Class Violence in Domestic and Public New York City, 1860-1880," Journal of Social History 25 (1992). Love is absent from these accounts of marriage and instead there are bursts of often deadly violence, precipitated largely, Haag finds, by economic disagreements and husbands' perceptions that their wives were not doing their dury: "Perceived laxity in the execution of household 'duties' precipitated several assaults," Haag writes. And, as I found earlier in the century, these failed duties often involve food preparation (467). Haag's conclusion after studying working-class men's domestic violence is that such men "invoked the language of property and the right to expropriate wives' labor services in committing and describing violence in the private realm" (471). Working-class men, in other words, clung to their right of property in women and women's labor and defended that right with anger and violence, just as they had done earlier in the century. Smith, Breaking the Bonds, pp. 1 13-14, also finds that anger pervades marriages, and that it is considered through the period she studies (1730-18 50) as a legitimate way for a man to enforce his wife's attention to her domestic duties.

(26.) Stearns and Stearns, Anger, p. 28.

(27.) A Brief Account of the Life of Peter Lung, p. 4, 6, 7, 8, 7, 22; A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Matthias Gotleib, p. 8; The 'Trial of Samuel Perry, Who Murdered His Wife on June 1, 1826 (Utica, 1826), p. 14; Report of the Trial of John Boies, for the Murder of his Wife, Jane Boies (Dedham, 1829), p. 9, 19, 28, 21.

(28.) An Authentic Account of the Trial of John Banks, p. 21 A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Matthias Gotleib, p. 4; Wicked Men Ensnared by Themselves, pp. 10-11.

(29.) A Sermon Preached at the Execution of Matthias Gotleib, p. 2; Authentic Account of the Trial of John Banks, p. 6, 8, 20; The Confession, of Edward Donnelly, p. 5; "Narrative of the Life of Thomas Qua, Who Was Executed at Salem (N.Y.) August 12th 1808, for the Murder of His Wife Margaret Qua," in The Trial of Rufus Hill for the Murder of Mary Sisson. May 30, 1808 ([n.p.], (n.d]), p. 17, 21; The Trial of Samuel Perry pp.l1- I 2: Report of the Trial of John Boies, p. 13, 18; Trial of Barent Becker, of Wayfield, in the County of Montgomery, (N.Y) For Murdering His Wife, by Poison ([n.p], 1815), p. 9, 12; A Brief Account of the Life of Peter Lung, p. 5.

(30.) Trial of John Graham at Baltimore County Criminal Court, on Tuesday August. 7, 1804 ([Baltimore], [1804]), p. 9,9-10, 8.

(31.) Jacqueline Miller, "Governing the Passions: The Eighteenth-Century Quest for Domestic Harmony in Philadelphia Middle-Class Households," Over the Threshold," p, 58. See also her "An 'Uncommon Tranquility of Mind'; Emotional Self-Control and the Construction of a Middle-Class Identity in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia, "Journal of Social History 30 (1996): 129-48. Stearns and Stearns also describe an emerging middle-class identity that emphasized restraint--what they call the "new valuation of love for spouse and children" and the belief that anger must he controlled." Anger, p. 28.

(32.) Most of these cases, from the 1.840s and 1850s concerned a distinctly pathological jealousy, in which a man's delusions of his wife's infidelity were bound up with much more wide-ranging delusions of persecution. Because of the exigencies of the law and medicine of insanity in the antebellum period, specifically the new designation of monomania, or insanity on a single topic, the varied paranoid symptoms of the defendants in these cases were often ignored as sexual jealousy became the focus--became the single topic on which they were alleged to be insane. Examples of these cases include--A Narrative of the Life ... of John Lewis; The Trial of Robert Bush; "The Case of Birdsell," Liberty Hall and Cincinnati Gazette, 30 July, 1829; The Life and Confession of John W. Cowan (Cincinnati, 1835); C W. Crozier, Life and Trial of Dr. Abner Baker, Jr. (A Monomaniac) (Louisville, 1846); Nathan Morgan, A Full Report of the Trial of Orrin Woodford, for the Murder of His Wife, Diana Woodford (Hartford, 1846); The Confession of Adam Horn, alias Andrew Hellman (Baltimore, 1843); Trial of Captain John Windsor for the Murder of His Wife ([n.p.], 1851); "Trial of Willard Clark, Indicted for the Murder of Richard W-Wight," The American Journal of Insanity (Janurary, 1856): 212-37. Although these cases do illustrate the increasing predominance of jealousy as a motive for domestic violence in the 1840s and 1850s, the embeddedness of jealousy within delusions of persecution, as well as what appears to be the defendants' very real insanity, makes them sufficiently distinct from the kinds of trials I consider here that 1 have not included them. They do bolster my argument here, though, in that in each case--and increasingly so as the decades progress--sexual and romantic jealousy is considered sufficient to overwhelm a man's reason and render him insane.

(33.) The Dying Confession of John Lechler, Who Was Convicted, for the Murder of His Wife, Mary Lechler, and Sentenced to be. Executed on the 25th Day of October, 1822 (Lancaster, PA, 1822), p. 15.

(34.) After 1800, definitions of legal insanity in both England and the U.S. became both more flexible and more conflicted, principally around the idea that a man need not be utterly mad to be legally insane: he could be partially mad, mad on only one subject--the victim of particular delusions that affected his knowledge of right and wrong in only one specific topic. The concept of moral insanity also began to gain ground--the concept that a man's "moral" or emotional and affective faculties might, be diseased as well as his intellect. For discussions of the changing and contested notions of legal insanity in the nineteenth century, see Norman Dain, Concepts of Insanity in the United States, 1789-1 865 (New Brunswick, 1964); Daniel N. Robinson, Wild Beasts and Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense, from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, MA, 1996), csp. pp. 141-82; and Lawrence B. Goodheart, "Murder and Madness: The Ambiguity of Moral Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Connecticut," Murder on Tried. 1620-2002 (Albany, 2005): 135-54.

(35.) Isaac Ray, A Treatise on the Medical jurisprudence of Insanity (1838; Cambridge, MA, 1962), pp. 320-22.

(36.) Trial of William M'Donnough, on an Indictment for the Murder of His Wife, Elizabeth M'Donnough, before the Hon. Supreme Judicial Court, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ... cm the Fourth Tuesday of November, 1817 (Boston, [1817]), p. 23.

(37.) Trial of William M'Donnough, p. 23, 28.

(38.) Ray, Treatise, 322.

(39.) In the trial of Daniel McFarland in 1870, one-of the defense lawyers shaped a similar analogy between alcohol consumption and jealousy, claiming that, certainly, drunkenness does not ordinarily excuse but "if his neighbor makes him drunk by force or contrivance," then it should, for it is then not a "sell-imposed madness" but a "forced or compelled madness"--just as it would he if another man forcibly subjected a man to the (act of his wife's infidelity. By 1870, though, the effects of jealousy are not merely akin to those of alcohol in their power to overwhelm reason (as they were in 1817); instead, they are much more devastating. "That which goes into a man's mouth and disorders his brain, is as nothing to that which goes into a man's mind and maddens the intellect." Trial of Daniel McFarland, pp. 182-83. The moral force of jealousy is here stronger than the merely chemical force of alcohol.

(40.) Trial of William M'Donnough, p. 14, 15,20,25,25,24.

(41.) Trial of William M'Donnough, p. 29.

(42.) Trial of William M'Donnough, p. 20.

(43.) Dying Confession of John Lechler, p, .3.

(44.) Dying Confession of John Lechler, p. 16.

(45.) Dying Confession of John Lechler, p. 15.

(46.) Dying Confession of John Lechler, p. 6.

(47.) Dying confession of John Lechler, p. 9, 9-10, 7, 9.

(48.) The next example of what would become a cliche appears in the trial of Samuel Perry four years later, in 1826. Perry apparently told a doctor that he was going to kill his wife because "he could not live with her nor without her." See The Tried of Samuel Perry. p. 7.

(49.) Ed Hatton, " 'He Murdered Her Because He Loved Her': Passion, Masculinity, and intimate Homicide in Antebellum America," Over the Threshold, p. 120.

(50.) Report of the Trial of Joel Cough on an Indictment for the Murder of Mrs. Mary W. Hamilton before Chief Justice Hornblower, and Four Associate Judges, at Mourn Holly, New Jersey, in June 1833 (Boston, 1833), p. 41.

(51.) Report of the Trial of Joel Clough, p. 42.

(52.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 62.

(53.) It was certainly not lost on commentators, both then and now, that the argument that a husband had a right to kill the seducer of his wife was close to irreconcilable with the argument that a husband temporarily lost his reason and killed without any clear sense of what he was doing. As Thomas Keneally puts it in his biography of Daniel Sick' les, "At least one newspaper later criticized Graham (Sickles' lead lawyer] for arguing that on the one hand Dan was too frenzied to behave calmly and with reason, and yet in the same breath claiming that the killing of the adulterer was right and just and admirable." American Scoundrel: The Life of the Notorious Civil War General Dan Sickle; (New York, 2002), pp. 174-75. The two principal historians who have discussed the Sickles case, and unwritten law cases in general, have each emphasized a different strand of the defense strategy, both implicitly responding to the deeply contradictory nature of the defense and attempting to make it more coherent. In "Insanity and the Unwritten Law," Robert Ireland downplays lawyers' arguments that unwritten law defendants were justified, focusing on the medical concepts consistently employed by the lawyers, including temporary insanity, irresistible impulse, moral insanity, and monomania. Taking a quite different approach in his "Lawyering, Husbands' Rights, and the 'Unwritten Law,'" Hendrik Hartog attenuates lawyers' arguments about insanity and underscores instead the rhetoric of a husband's rights--his right to his wife as property and his right to defend his marriage, his home, and his honor. While "frenzy" is the keystone of Ireland's argument, the concepts of "honor" and "rights" structure Hartog's essay.

(54.) One historian who does discuss the role of emotion in unwritten law cases is Melissa Ganz, in an article that focuses on the 1870 trial of Daniel McFarland for shooting his wife's lover Albert Richardson--a trial that closely recapitulates that of Darnel Sickles (indeed, one of Sickles' main lawyers, John Graham, also represented McFarland). In her essay, "Wicked Women and Veiled Ladies: Gendered Narratives of the McFarland Richardson Tragedy," Ganz takes issue with Hartog's focus on honor in this case and in other unwritten law cases: "Rather than claim that McFarland had a tight to kill Richardson, [his lawyers] argued that McFarland shot Richardson because his emotions overwhelmed his reason." Yale Journal of Law and Feminism 9 (1997): 266. Although she focuses on emotion, Ganz does not discuss jealousy at all; instead, the emotion Ganz emphasizes is a rather amorphous "sentiment"--both the overwhelming sentiment that overcame McFarland's reason and the sentiment that his lawyers tried to arouse in the jurors. Furthermore, Ganz claims that in stressing McFarland's emotions, his lawyers eroded his masculinity; they did not bolster it, as Hartog claims, with his stress on reasonable manly honor. Instead, Ganz argues that since emotions, particularly sentiment, were associated with women in the nineteenth century, McFarland's lawyers actively feminized him (266, 284). What Ganz's argument omits, however, is that such trials were a public venue for the very creation of a normative masculine emotion. It is finally simply too reductive to claim, as Ganz does, that in the nineteenth century men were urged toward self-government and women toward emotion. The particular emotion of jealousy, an emotion freighted with valences of uncontrollability, began to be posited as integral to male identity in the antebellum period--and unwritten law trials, beginning with Daniel Sickles, served as one very public arena in which this vision of a distinctly emotional masculinity was enacted.

(55.) In discussing the trial of Harry Thaw for the 1906 murder of Stanford White, Martha Merrill Umphrey has pointed out the deeply contradictory nature of the unwritten law defense as it intersected with insanity and also how particular ways of framing strong passions--"rage and obsession"--serve to resolve that, contradiction. See "Dialogics of Legal Meaning: Spectacular Trials, the Unwritten Law, and Narratives of Criminal Responsibility," Law and Society Review .33 (1 999): 412.

(56.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 32; my italics.

(57.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 37.

(58.) Prosecutors in such cases, likewise, kept trying to enforce the distinction between vicious and culpable passions and exculpable insanity--as does, for example, the lawyer for the state in the 1871 trial, in Cleveland, of Jay F. Galentine for the murder of William H. Jones. Here he quotes from Wharton and Stille's Medical Jurisprudence: " The mind is always greatly troubled when it is agitated by anger, tormented by an unfortunate love, bewildered by jealousy, overcome by despair, humbled by terror, or corrupted by an unconquerable desire for vengeance, &c. Then, as it is said, a man is no longer master of himself, his reason is affected, his ideas are in disorder, he is like a madman. But in all these cases a man does not lose his knowledge of the real relation of things: he may exaggerate his misfortune, but this misfortune is real, and if it carries his to commit a criminal act, this act is perfectly well motivated. Insanity is more or less independent of the cause that produces it; it exists of itself: the passions cease with their cause, jealousy disappears with the object that provoked it, anger lasts hut a few moments in the absence of the one who by a grievous injury gave it birth, etc. Violent passions cloud the judgment, but they do not produce those illusions which arc observable in insanity. They excite for a moment sentiments of cruelty, but they do not produce that deep moral perversion which influences the madman to sacrifice, without motive, the being he most cherishes.'" The Jones-Galantine Tragedy (Cleveland, 1871), p. 88. In an early case, this view of passion being completely distinct from insanity is perfectly illustrated. James Ransom himself, in 1832, in a short speech before his sentencing, argues that he must have been insane, not in a passion, when he killed his wife because he loved her and had no reason to kill her: "As God is my Judge, I don't know that I was there that day. ... It is not reasonable to think that 1 would kill the woman that I so loved:--against whom I never spoke and ill word." Trial, Sentence and Execution of James Ransom, p. 13. He was insane because he loved his wife and because he was not driven by passion, or any explicable motive. Cases like the Sickles trial present the opposite logic: that a man is as good as insane because he loved his wife and because he was driven by passion.

(59.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 60.

(60.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 58.

(61.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 30.

(62.) Trial of Daniel McFarland, p. 178.

(63.) The idea that men had animalistic tendencies was virtually non-existent in the antebellum era, emerging in force only at the end of the century. In his discussion of the Joel (lough trial, Ed Hatton mentions a new "ideal of manliness" emerging after 1820-the "masculine primitive," which "recognized physical strength, powerful instincts, and charisma as desirable in men." Hatton himself says that this ideal "was not widely accepted until the end of the nineteenth century." '"He Murdered Her Because He Loved Her,'" pp. 114-15. Indeed, historians have located "primitivism" as a complex of masculine traits that flourished after about 1880. See John Pettegrew, Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920 (Baltimore, 2007), esp. pp. 269-318. Studies of antebellum manhood focus much more on qualities such as self-restraint, piety, godliness, reason, and sympathy--as Hatton himself identifies. The Sickles trial is the first example I have found of a positive celebration of man's "animalistic" tendencies and instincts.

(64.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 97

(65.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 97.

(66.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 29, 32, 26.

(67.) John Graham also used this argument about men's instincts to great effect in the trial of Daniel McFarland eleven years after the Sickles trial. After quoting, again, from Proverbs about jealousy being the rage of a man, he continues, "... so it must, and so it will be, until human nature is formed anew, and different feelings and impulses are bestowed upon us." See The Trial of Daniel McFarland, p. 178. Man's instinct to defend his wife and family unto death also plays a very large part in the first trial of George W. Cole for the murder of L. Harris Hiscock in 1867. Defense lawyer William Hadley argues that even the adulterer "knew that the fabric of society was built upon that instinct of the human heart which ever impels the wronged husband to vindicate the sanctity of the marriage bed; he knew that the impulse which prompts the wronged husband to slay the seducer of his wife ... was implanted in the breast of every living man by the hand of God himself; and ... he knew that George W. Cole could no more resist this instinct of his nature, than he could change the stars in their courses, or arrest the whirlwind in its wrath." Sec "George W. Cole," Remarkable Trials of All Countries, vol. 2 (New York, 1882), p. 229; see also James Brady's closing speech, 337.

(68.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 61, 62, 63.

(69.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 97.

(70.) Trial of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, p. 33.

(71.) Trialof the Hon. Daniel E.Sickles, p. 90.

(72.) "George W. Cole," p. 348.

By Dawn Keetley

Lehigh University
The harmony of a man's family is the summit of human happiness, and
  its preservation should be the constant endeavour of every human
  being. Harmony and mutual confidence should ever subsist between
  husband and wife; for be their situation ever so comfortable, and
  their prospects in life ever so flattering, if Jealousy intrudes into
  their domiciliary, they must bid a lasting farewell to every
  semblance of happiness. Every wife should conduct herself in a manner
  which precludes even the possibility of suspicion; and every husband
  should cherish the idea of his wife's purity, as he cherishes that
  sanguine fluid which flows in his veins and animates his
  system. (43)

Ye votaries of vice take warning by the awful example now before you.
  Jealousy, is a fiend which destroys the happiness of more than any
  passion [sic] to which the human family is liable--but, alas! there
  is too much cause for its existence in this place! Take heed hardened
  sinner--by once more satiating your wicked designs, at the expense,
  perhaps, of a dear friend you may purchase the horrid death of poor
  Mary Lechler, for the victim of your seduction! or an ignominious
  death for your injured friend. Beware, 1 beseech you! Reflect--
  seriously reflect, on your past conduct--think that you have a soul--
  Oh, God! What will become of mine--to be saved--and recollect that
  adultery is a crime of the blackest dye--sinful in the eye of Heaven,
  and most fatal in its consequences among men. (45)

"Jealousy is the rage of a man;" it takes possession of his whole
  nature; no occupation or pursuit in life, no literary culture or
  enjoyment, no sweet society of friends in the brilliancy of sunlight,
  no whisper of hope or promise of the future, can for one moment keep
  out of his mind, his heart or his soul, the deep, ineffaceable
  consuming fire of jealousy. When once it has entered within his
  breast, he has yielded to an instinct which the Almighty has
  implanted in every animal or creature that crawls the earth. I cannot
  speak of the amours or jealousies of the worm; but when I enter the
  higher walk of nature, when I examine the characteristics of the
  birds that move about in the air, I find the jealousy of the bird
  incites him to inflict death upon the stranger that invades his nest,
  and seeks to take from him the love which the Creator has implanted
  in him, and formed him to enjoy.

  I read in the records of travellers who have penetrated the wilds of
  Africa, that the most deadly engagement that can occur, an engagement
  which never permits both to pass away with that life, occurs between
  two lions when the lioness has proved wanton, or seduction has been
  applied to her. Yet man in his animal instincts is no more capable of
  controlling within him the laws which the Almightly has planted there
  than the inferior animals to which I have referred.

  "Jealousy is the rage of a man," and although all the arguments that
  my learned opponents can bring, or that can be suggested, that a man
  must be cool and collected when he finds before him in full view, the
  adulterer of his wife, to the contrary notwithstanding, yet jealousy
  will be the rage of that man, and he will not spare in the day of
  vengeance. (64)
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.