In August of 1892, Andrew and Abigail Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Substantial evidence pointed to Andrew’s daughter Lizzie as the likely murderer; and yet at the time, many simply refused to believe that she could have done it. How could Lizzie Borden have been acquitted, despite the lack of any credible alternative to the prosecution’s theory of her guilt? 130 years later, the question remains puzzling. In this presentation, we will look again at the evidence, and try to pose some answers.
Lizzie Borden on Trial, by Joseph A. Conforti
The Trial of Lizzie Borden, by Cara Robertson
1) The Bordens were probably killed by someone wielding a hatchet. How does the particularly violent nature of that assault help explain why so many residents of Fall River had trouble believing that someone like Lizzie could have been the assailant?
2) Consider Lizzie Borden’s social status: a middle-class, Protestant woman. Is there reason to think that the outcome of the trial might have been different if she had been a servant, or of different ancestry?