Crime History, Feb. 27, 1859: Congressman kills D.C. district attorney over affair with wife

Daniel Sickles

Daniel Sickles

On this day, Feb. 27, in 1859, Congressman Daniel Sickles shot and killed his wife’s lover, the district attorney for the District of Columbia, Philip Barton Key, son of Francis Scott Key.

Key and Sickles’ wife, Teresa, frequently rendezvoused in Lafayette Square near the White House.

After learning of their affair, Sickles forced his wife to write a signed confession. The nexd day, Sickles looked out of his home in Lafayette Park and saw Key waiting outside.

Sickles rushed outside shot and killed Key in the park. He immediately admitted his guilt.

Newspapers declared Sickles a hero for saving women from Key, a known lecher.

Sickles’ attorney, Edwin M. Stanton, later President Lincoln’s secretary of war, successfully argued that Sickles had been driven insane by his wife’s infidelity.

Sickles was acquitted, the first time temporary insanity was successfully used in a murder trial.

The colorful congressman later became a Union general during the Civil War and lost his leg to cannon fire at Gettysburg. His leg bones remain on display at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The leg even made a cameo appearance during the 2012 movie Lincoln.

— Scott McCabe

Daniel Sickles' leg, along with a cannonball similar to the one that shattered it at Gettysburg, is on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring.

Daniel Sickles’ leg, along with a cannonball similar to the one that shattered it at Gettysburg, is on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring.

Advertisements

Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.com.

Leave a Reply - We reserve the right to remove hate speech. Use your big-people words.

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: