Miss Lizzie A. Borden is Acquitted.
Decision Reached on First Ballot.
Judge's Charge a Plea For the Innocent.
Knowlton Hurt Case By a Comparison.
Howard Pictures the Scene in the Court.
Spectacle When the Verdict Was Announced.
Bench, Bar, Press, Everybody Express Opinions.

NEW BEDFORD. June 20-“I want to go home: take me straight home tonight.”


"Yes, tonight, I want to see the old place and settle down at once."

That Lizzie Borden should throw her hands upon the rail, her face upon her hands, and indulge in hearty sobs after the ordeal facing her hand uplifted above her head, the foreman of the jury as he pronounced the words. "Not guilty," was to have been expected.

Nothing else?

Well, yes.  If she were an ordinary woman she would have cried and cried, perhaps fainted, then smiled and in effective pose reasserted the habitudes of her sex.

The difficulty is she is not an ordinary woman she is a puzzle psycho logic.

Presumed by the law to be innocent, and as it now appears, Judged by the law of the land so to be, she has lived in the broad glare of red-hot publicity nearly a year.

Every great newspaper in the land has had its reporters, its staff correspondents, its artists and its pests, male and female; watching, searching, studying, analyzing, photographing, sketching, picturing, and if possible interviewing her.

They found texts for columns in her looks, her hearing, her method of speech, her personal habits, her ability to sleep, her fattening process, her approaching trial and everything connected with her.

The great Beecher used to say that a public man could not blow his nose on his own doorsteps without its report being echoed throughout the entire city, and so it has been with Lizzie Borden, whether she washed her face, wiped her eyes, blew her nose, puckered her mouth or raised her hand, whatever she did, wherever she went, she was an object of curiosity and unmitigated assault by the gossips of the time.

During all this period, to use a vulgarism, she has not given herself away once, by which means she has done nothing which might reasonably have been expected from an ordinary woman in her trying and embarrassing circumstances.

She is an abnormality, but she does not look it nor would one have the right to so judge her, were nothing known of her beyond the simple Christian life she led down  to the moment of her arrest.

In works of good repute she passed her time.  A member of the band of Christian Endeavor she visited those in prison and comforted her kind in trouble.  A manager of the Fall River hospital she visited the sick, and gave not only words of cheer and cups of cold water, but her presence and individual interest to her brothers and sisters of low degree.

The bible class, the Sunday school and the prayer meeting were about the most exciting of her pleasures and she grew to woman's estate the favorite of a hard natured, close fisted, money saving, but daughter loving New England miser.

Womanly traits and Christian qualities were the only developments of Miss Lizzie Borden's character, save such petulance’s and outbursts of temper as are natural enough in every household in the land and might well be looked for in a home where a father of the Borden type had taken to himself a second wife, thereby furnishing to his daughters a stepmother of the Mrs. Borden type.

Who says all this?  Not the police, not the state detectives, not madam rumor or dame gossip.

But who does tell it?

First the jury, her sister and her uncle.  Next the pastor of her church and the city missionary, to whom she often went with contributions of money and that which sometimes costs us more than money, personal presence and individual interest.  Then come the neighbors and the church folk.

Just here a point.  It would have done you women who read this story, heart good to have seen the women of Fall River on the stand for the first time in their lives testifying to their love and confidence for and admiration of this young Christian woman, flesh of their flesh in the church bone of their bone in the good works which as one good old lady naively expressed it, “naturally interest our young people."

No one could have studied, as I did, The contrast afforded by the witnesses for the prosecution, and the men and women called by the defense, leaving out of consideration obviously the experts whose testimony was negative, if not almost entirely substantiating the claims of the defense.

Police marshals, police captains who had been promoted from patrolmen through the year, police medical examiners, and Policemen of every possible grade furnished the contradictory evidence for the prosecution, handicapping the climax with the matron of the station house.

In all my experience, which includes attendance upon the chief criminal trials since the famous Burdell murder, somewhere in the later 50’s, I have never seen  a prosecution so handicapped,  first by the crime, abnormal and extraordinary in its character: second, by the absolute barrenness of direct proof: third, by the contradictions of its own witnesses and fourth, by the utter impassiveness and stolid self reliance of the accused party herself.

The opening of Dist. Atty. Moody was not only in ingenious, but clean-cut, admirable in delivery and effective, while the closing plea of Dist. Atty. Hosea M. Knowlton entitles him to rank with the ablest advocates of the day.

It is fair to remember that it is much easier to assault than to defend and in forming an estimate of ex Gov. Robinson's interesting and convincing plea for the defense, it must be remembered that after he had re-exposed the police officers in their great act of tumbling one over the other, of riddling the matron because of her unnecessary and ridiculous story, there really was little left for him to do beyond those glittering generalities of which Rufus Choate, the master of pyrotechnic oratory was so fond.

Now and the during the somewhat unnecessary details indulged in by her own counsel Lizzie Borden shed a furtive tear and when Chief Justice Mason, to whom she looked almost hoping against hope for exclusion of the inquest testimony sustained the position taken by ex Gov. Robinson, overcome by joy and recognizing the full horizoned significance of the aid her case had received, she broke down, and for two or three minutes indulged in the luxury of a first-class cry.

With these exceptions the defendant has sat as motionless, as expressionless and apparently as uninterested as a wooden Indian.

Therefore I say she is, as counsel on both sides have characterized, woman of extraordinary mentality and unusual self-control.

In view of her life, as pictured by the solid men and women of the city of her residence, all this seems strange.  Yet the fact is she was always peculiar in her ways, as was shown by her selection of old Mrs. Russell, for instance, as an intimate, and the further fact that she never cared at all for the society of men, old or young.

Yesterday was a corker.  Today knocks sunspots out of it.

I never suffered so much from literal heat as I did in the courtroom today, although appropriately clad and provided with all the creature comforts that a freely spent fortune could procure.

The jury were on their mettle.  They had listened courteously to ex Gov. Robinson and to Dist Atty. Knowlton the day before, but by the exercise of a God-given intuition they felt in their bones that this day was their last, and bore themselves in their best bibs and tuckers like men and brethren conscious of the heavy responsibility resting upon them. Libby was very pale, but self-contained, as usual, and having riveted her eyes upon Dist Atty. Knowlton accepted every blow without a flinch and endured to the very end like a. woman of pluck and grit and tremendous self-reliance.

Mr. Knowlton has had a tough time in various ways the past month.  He has had severe and dangerous sickness at home: he has held the laboring oar in this great case. He has seen, little by little, how unstable and unsatisfactory were the men and women upon whom he depended. He felt, right or wrong, that the dress handed to him from the Borden house was not the gown he wanted. and he knew that a great wave of popular disgust with a verdict obtained by circumstantial evidence in New York in the cases of Carlyle Harris and Dr Buchanan had swept thoroughly over the entire country as to affect very seriously the chances for conviction.

I never in my life was so impressed with the outrageous point to which modern habit has brought the state's attorney in his desire for conviction as in this admirably managed trial. In other days, when accused persons were not defended by paid counsel of their own choosing they were safe in the hands of the lawyers of the commonwealth, and his sole idea was to ascertain truth, and nothing but the truth.

The modern practice which enables wealthy people to hire lawyers for their defense and leave courts to assign lawyers to defend people too poor to hire them for themselves is responsible for the feeling which district attorneys now invariably have, that no verdict against the prisoner is a victory for them, while a resultant not guilty is a defeat for the county or the common wealth.

This was noticeably shown in the present instance, and with the same pride of bearing, the same pride of bearing, the same earnestness of purpose, the same tremendous potentially which we find displayed in the engine No. 999 on its 20-hour trip from New York to Chicago was superbly developed in that magnificent specimen of God's handiwork. Hosea M. Knowlton, today.

Ordinary men like you and me can understand how nerve pure and unadulterated could enable a guilty man or even woman to bear up with defiance against any accusation. Here, however, was a young woman, short and, although stouter than she was a year ago, fragile and delicate, who never flinched nor quailed but looked her accuser and her assailant straight in his flashing eyes.

Mr. Knowlton ridiculed the Story of the barn and her being in the hay loft on a brutal day in August and made unquestionably a good point when he asked: "Where is the bit of iron with which to fix the door: where is the sinker with which to go a-fishing"

I was not pleased with Mr. Knowlton's frequent iterations of his desire to remember at all times that the defendant was a woman, his desire to be truthful and his appeal to heaven to do something dreadful to his, arm and seriously embarrass his tongue if he were to be in any sense unfair or prejudiced in the conduct of his case.  In other words, be protested too much, a fault most grievous when viewed in the light of his otherwise magnificent work.

He appeared chagrined and mortified to find that he had been fooled by the defense or misled by the police about the dress that Miss Lizzie wore on the fatal day.

He was evidently convinced that she wore the Bedford cord and subsequently burned it, and in accounting for the fact that the police did not find the dress at the time of their thorough search, he said they were not especially careful, because they believed they had the dress they wanted in their possession.

He thought no one would hesitate a moment as between Lizzie Borden and Alicia Russell, insisting with great show of earnestness that Miss Russell was a woman with a conscience, and when with great impressiveness he said, turning to the jury, "You saw her.” A smile ran through the courtroom and one irreverent member of the bald-headed club remarked. “We did."

Mr. Knowlton hurt his case seriously by drawing unnecessarily a contrast between Lizzie Borden and Bridgett Sullivan, the rich and the poor, the mistress and the maid, the educated and the uninformed.

It was unnecessary, because Lizzie Borden has no better friend than Bridgett Sullivan, and no witness on the stand did so much as Bridgett to help the cause of the defense, who sought to persuade the jury that the house was not the home of hate and malice, when she testified that in all her term of service she heard no quarrels and witnessed no disagreement.

During the recess a large pile of letters were banded to Lizzie by Sheriff Wright, some of which she read smelling bottle and fan in hand.

It was uphill work for the able district attorney, and sweltering spectators regarded him with curious interest, such as is manifested when a strong man bursts chains that are bound about the muscles of his arm or a thousand pound weight is lifted by the teeth by the woman of the iron jaw.

His contention that the story told by the matron was told in Lizzie's interest was so manifestly grotesque as to make even the police officers smile.  Mrs. Reagan did not care a rap for Lizzie or any body, else; what she was thinking of was her own bread and butter.

The ax and hatchet theory was then exploited, and he took them up one by one, literally, as he subsequently did the skulls metaphorically, protesting with a weakness of voice that it disturbed his sensitive nature to be compelled by the strict mandate of sternest duty to talk of such horrid thugs in the presence of a real born lady.

He made a strong analysis of the story of the note, its non-confirmation and importance to the case, and closed with an eloquent peroration praising the evidence produced by the prosecution as all array of impregnable facts.

It was an extraordinary spectacle. That Lizzie Borden sat on the edge of her chair leaning forward and listening with breathless anxiety, you may well believe.

The judge's charge was remarkable; it was a plea for the innocent. Had he been the senior counsel for the defense making the closing plea in behalf of the defendant, he could not have more absolutely pointed out the folly of depending upon circumstantial evidence alone. With matchless clearness he set up the case of the prosecution point by point and in the gentlest and most ingenious manner possible knocked it down. He started with a definition pronounced and emphatic of the defendant's position before the law, an. innocent woman with every inference in her favor, showed the value of her exceptional Christian character and unmasked the absurdity of her pretending that her stepmother had received a note if she had not received one, embarrassing herself with an unnecessary and burdensome lie. He assumed that it was not impossible for some one other than Lizzie to have committed the murder, and then instructed them that they had no right to pronounce an accused prisoner guilty on circumstantial evidence unless they were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that she did the deed and that no one else could have done it.

The dear old fellow went on in this strain for an hour, until I began to fear that there would be another side to it presently, which would put a very different face on the matter, but I was mistaken, for like the saints he continued to the end, throwing bombs of disheartenment into the ranks of the prosecution, and causing smiles of joy to play about the lips of Lizzie's friends.

And hers too?

Not a smile.  Not a tear.

Simply sat she there, giving every evidence of intelligent observation, but not a sign that indicated either joy or apprehension.

I doubt if ever there was such a charge before.  On the other hand there was never such a case before.  There was never a prosecution so handicapped before.  There never was such a defendant, and so far as I know there never was such a day of brutal discomfort as this now verging on the midnight hour.

To make a long story short lets get at once to the end.  The jury had been out one hour and a half, but so confident were the people of a verdict that very few of the spectators retired.

Word was brought to the sheriff that a verdict had been reached.  The judges took their seats, the jury stood before them.

Clerk Borden-Lizzie Andrew Borden, stand up.

The little woman in black obeyed the mandate of the court and every eye was fastened upon her.

Clerk Borden-Hold up your right hand, look upon the foreman; foreman, look upon the prisoner.  Have you found a verdict?”

Foreman-We have.

The clerk then handed a document to the court and it was handed back to the clerk, who restored it to the foreman.

All this time Lizzie stood there a monument of patience, a pillar of self-reliance, her eye fastened upon the foreman.

Clerk Borden-What Is your verdict?

Foreman-Not guilty.

At once there rose so wild a yell that every prisoner in his cell could hear it.

Lizzie sank into a chair, rested her hands upon the rail, her face upon them, and cried her second cry of joy.

She was no longer friendless. Her sister, her counsel, the women in the courtroom, all the men from everywhere rushed to greet her, and burying her head in her sister's arms, she said: "Now take me home, I want to go to the old place and go at once tonight."

I had a brief conversation of congratulation and satisfaction, but it was such a talk as would only naturally pass between a woman relieved but a moment before from a terrific strain and one who felt it to be the privilege and duty of a man to congratulate her on the changed condition of affairs.

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