Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017
- Dec 21, 2015
‘Temporarily insane’: A congressman, a sensational killing and a new legal defense
The affair began, Teresa Sickles remembered, in the spring of 1858.
She was the 23-year-old wife of first-term New York Democratic congressman Daniel Edgar Sickles. Her lover, Philip Barton Key II, was the district attorney for Washington and the son of Francis Scott Key, who wrote the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The couple would rendezvous not far from the Sickles home on Lafayette Square, where they lived just steps from the White House, at an unoccupied house on 15th Street. There, as Teresa put it in a written confession demanded by her husband after he learned of the affair, they engaged in “intimacy of an improper kind.”
More colorfully, she put it another way: “I did what is usual for a wicked woman to do.”
Teresa Sickles as seen in Harper’s Weekly. (Library of Congress)
Then, as now, extramarital dalliance was not uncommon among the men and women who moved in the capital’s social and political circles. Rep. David Outlaw, a North Carolina Whig who served in Congress during the late 1840s and early 1850s, filled letters to his wife with details of “congressmen going home with married ladies, women sending married men valentines, and even a senator producing a child out of wedlock with a boardinghouse owner,” historian Rachel A. Shelden has written.
Outlaw discreetly declined to share this gossip with the press, Shelden notes. But the affair between Sickles and Key took a violent turn on Feb. 27, 1859, that made it national news.
More Here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...d-a-new-legal-defense/?utm_term=.5bcc784ab595