The Criminal: Daniel M’Naghten
The Year: 1843
The Place: London, England
The Verdict: Acquitted
“To establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or, if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.” – The M’Naghten Rules
It’s late April. For me, this means only one thing: it’s research season.
At the heart of the case of Josephine McCarty is an inescapable contradiction: in January 1872 Mrs. McCarty shot and killed a man in broad daylight, on a streetcar full of passengers, and by June she was acquitted, free once again to ride the streetcar like any other Utican, to travel at will, and to go about her business as though nothing happened.
It’s Election Day 2016, and in my city of Rochester, New York, eyes are turning to Mount Hope Cemetery and the grave of Susan B. Anthony.
Recently I wrote up a story from Josephine’s very early medical career for the history blog NursingClio. The post is here, and includes plenty of pictures of angry women.